Wycombe Labour today wondered why the Wycombe Council Leader hasn’t resigned from the Tory Party in view of his public and fundamental disagreement with the planning policies of his coalition Government. And would he like to join Labour?
Wycombe Labour also wondered why other Tory and Lib Dem Councillors on WDC who share his views haven’t quit.
Councillor Scott told a public meeting that WDC, which is considering releasing five reserve sites for development, had “done all it could to resist edicts from Westminster.” And that “the coalition Government has forced this on every council across the country.”
He said that he and other Council leaders had gone to see Pickles but had been told “to go away and get on with it”.
Ian Bates, Leader of the Labour Group on WDC, said “It’s no good Richard Scott wringing his hands and saying it is all the Government’s fault. It’s no good him crying crocodile tears and saying Mr Pickles is forcing him to do what he thinks is wrong.
If he and other Tory Councillors think the Government’s policies are wrong and they feel strongly about the effect of the Government’s policies on Wycombe, they would resign. If they stay in the Tory Party slavishly carrying out policies they disagree with, voters can draw their own conclusions.
Similarly it is no good Lib Dem Councillors leading rambles through the reserve sites while their Party centrally supports these policies to the hilt. If they think the Government’s policies are wrong and they care about the effects on Wycombe, they would resign from the Lib Dems.
If Cllr Scott resigns, he could join the Labour Party.
Can I reassure Councillor Scott that Hilary Benn, the shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, would not treat him and his fellow leaders like children, telling them to go away and do what they are told.
I’d like to reassure Councillor Scott that Ed Miliband doesn’t believe in knee-jerk reactions. He believes in listening to what people say and in having well-considered plans in place ready for when he wins the next election in 2015.
That is why Ed Miliband set up the Lyons Commission last year to advise the Labour Party how it could increase the supply of new homes in England above 200,000 a year by the end of the next Parliament.
I hope WDC has contributed to the Lyons Commission because the country is in the midst of the biggest housing crisis in a generation.
We are building less than half the number of homes we need to keep up with demand. This housing shortage plays a central part in the cost of living crisis, leaving millions of working people unable to afford the homes they want.
Finally, I can reassure Councillor Scott that the Labour Party is not drawing up planning policies similar to those of the current Government.
Unlike the current Tory – led Government, the Labour Party doesn’t believe that developers should be given the right to build houses where and when they want, riding roughshod over the wishes of local people and local authorities in order to make the maximum profit.
For example, the Labour Party is looking at ways to release brownfield land for building homes and not for “land banking” i.e. hoarding and speculating in land which has planning permission and is appreciating in value.
The Labour Party is looking at a “use it or lose it” power for local authorities to discourage land banking.
Perhaps Councillor Scott could let us know how much brownfield land is currently landbanked in the Wycombe district and whether he would support such a “use it or lose it” power?
Would he then like to join the Labour Party?”