Tory councillors slam local plan delay

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Conservative councillors on High Peak Borough Council (HPBC) have slammed further delays to the local plan.

Members of the Conservative Group hit out at the Labour administration after discovering that the vital document will not be considered at the next meeting at the end of February as planned, but will instead be delayed to March.

The group said that in 2011, Conservative councillors proposed that £100,000 of the £1,250,000 underspend bequeathed by the previous Conservative administration should be used to buy-in expertise to help the local plan progress more quickly and protect the High Peak from speculative development, but their proposal was rejected.

Conservative Group leader Tony Ashton said: “We have tried very hard to work with the Labour Group. We made proposals three years ago but they voted them down due to political dogma. Now, after repeated delays and ignoring our warnings, Labour have vastly underestimated the feeling among High Peak residents, forcing them to introduce yet another delay.

“Only last month Labour tried to push part of the local plan through without giving councillors the full information. This forced us as a group into abstaining, as we cannot support something if we’ve not been shown all the information about it.

“The fact there’s yet another delay shows that the whole thing is a complete shambles. Our residents are the ones who have to endure the consequences of further delays, as more and more speculative planning applications get submitted.

“As leader of the council, Cllr (Caitlin) Bisknell must bear responsibility for her administration’s incompetence.”

Cllr Godfrey Claff, HPBC executive member for regeneration, said: “We have received 1,600 representations during the latest period of consultation and in order to make sure we are able to take full account of these comments officers have slightly delayed consideration of the local plan.

“This proposal was discussed with the leader of the Conservative group who agreed to move the meeting and that meeting will take place on March 11. The overall timetable will not be affected.”