Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has said it is a “dark day for local democracy” as Oxfordshire County Council voted in favour of taking over the local plan of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), if they are invited to do so by Whitehall.
Moran was offered a meeting with Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State responsible, and council leaders, although a date has not yet been offered. The MP said “getting everyone round the table is now urgent.”
Layla said that it “would be a great shame” if democratically-elected local councillors had the power to decide local housing policy taken away from them by another political party.
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.
At the vote during a meeting of the county council today, all Liberal Democrats and Greens voted against the motion.
Commenting, Layla said:
“This is a dark day for local democracy. Last month, on the floor of the House, I asked the Secretary of State to meet with me and council leaders to ensure we can develop a plan in everyone’s interest. I want to bring everyone round the table to come to a resolution, before this situation escalates any further.
“It would be a great shame if locally-elected councillors, voted in on a clear mandate by local people, found themselves overruled by a central government and councillors of a different party when it comes to local housing. I hope the Government and County Council are considering the ramifications of this very carefully indeed.
“I am very concerned that a political party can use mechanisms such as these to overrule the elected officials of another party if they disagree with them on local issues such as housing. We can do so much better than this.”