Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has said the Government’s intervention in South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC)’s Local Plan is “authoritarian” and an “outrageous affront to local democracy”, as Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick ordered the council to adopt the plan by December.
In May 2019, Liberal Democrat and Green councillors on SODC were elected on a clear mandate to challenge the housing figures in the local plan and revise them.
Moran offered to meet with Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State responsible, and council leaders, although a date has still not yet been offered by Jenrick’s office, despite him accepting the MP's offer.
The Lib Dem MP also said that this episode “has huge and deeply worrying ramifications for planning decisions being taken across England.”
Commenting, Layla said:
“This is an outrageous affront to local democracy. What was the point of even holding local elections for the council, if a change in ruling parties cannot impact on the biggest decision it will make in the next few years?
“The election was fought over this issue – housing – and so for the Conservatives in Whitehall to seek to overrule locally elected councillors is utterly unacceptable. The new council has a clear mandate to look at this issue. This top-down approach to what is a local issue has wider implications for planning decisions being taken across England.
“I offered to meet with the Secretary of State, which he accepted, but he has since refused to even offer any dates for us to sit down with council leaders. I think that says it all.
“I would urge the Government to sit down with me and council leaders, and to let the democratically elected council make the decisions it has the mandate to make.”