Who can speak up for all of us?

I am pleased that Cllr Bob Cartwright (Matlock Mercury, May 17) agrees that there are potential problems with housing development in Tansley and that councillors should listen to the people who elected them.

However, his claim that I have made interventions at district council planning meetings opposing development is totally fictitious. I have never made any such intervention. Is Cllr Cartwright confusing me with someone else?

For the record, I am in favour of small scale, infill and brownfield housing development. However, like most Tansley residents, I am opposed to greenfield development and to any extension of the settlement boundary.

Cllr Cartwright recognises “the potential problems of putting too many houses in Tansley” yet says the Local Plan, which would put more houses on Tansley’s green fields, is necessary for the good of the wider district. But why is Tansley the only village chosen for development in the local area? Villages such as Cromford, in Cllr Cartwright’s own constituency, have much better amenities and public transport services. Tansley has already had one spate of house building recently, planning conditions for which, incidentally, have still not been met more than a year after occupancy.

Cllr Cartwright clearly feels that the work of district councillors is not always recognised. That may well be the case, but surely we have the right to question councillors when they fail to represent local views? Cllr Cartwright cites “muddied waters” resulting from national directives as justification for how councillors vote with regard to housing development; I would argue that not all decisions taken at district level can be justified in the name of national planning policy.

The mud metaphor is a good one, though, seeing as nothing at all is clear at the moment. The Local Plan calls for 30 houses in Tansley outside the settlement boundary. Are we talking 30 houses on one site or on several sites? Where are these sites? Is the intention to build 30 houses in one fell swoop or one or two houses a year over the 2006-2028 time frame? Do houses already built count under the new plan adopted after the demise this year of the joint strategy with High Peak Borough Council? I do hope that the district council’s planning department will endeavour to enlighten us during the forthcoming consultation process.

At the district council meeting on April 26, only one of Tansley’s three district councillors spoke up in support of Tansley residents and sought answers to some of the questions above. The other two chose not to speak at all and voted, with the majority, in favour of developing our green fields. In so doing they disregarded the views of Tansley residents as expressed most recently in the results of a village survey organised by our Parish Council.

Cllr Cartwright asserts that councillors often have no opportunity to discuss options or influence planning decisions, and that there is no longer any way of scrutinising decisions taken. If this assertion is correct, what does that say about our planning authority and about local democracy? And who can we ask to speak up to try and improve matters if not our elected councillors?

Jane Flanagan