Update (10 am WED) on replies to the challenge
by the “Green Belt Rally” to #Oxon DC candidates
to sign pledge to vote against
any proposal that involves building on green belt.
— 14 definite pledges, 2-3 reasoned answers; 3 letters ‘why it cant be done’
10 am WED May 1
We just received these pledges :
Nick COTTER – INDEPENDENT – Bicester South and Ambrosden
Anthony MORRIS – UKIP – Kidlington East
The longest written positive replies came from the Green Party:
(PLEDGES from GREENS:)
Jenny TAMBLYN – GREEN – CHERWELL, Fringford and Heyfords
Aaron BLISS – GREEN – CHERWELL, Deddington
Andrea POWELL – GREEN – SOUTH OXFORDshire, Benson and Crowmarsh
(i) Karl Kwiatkowski – Green – CHERWELL – Banbury Hardwick wrote:
– ALL Green party candidates will gladly sign this ( had we been sent it in time). I even considered driving there tonight to post it but your address does not tally with Google.
I can certainly say that I will oppose ANY green belt development. (You have gone to a lot of trouble to do this but the timing and organisation is wrong.)
(We agree the timing is wrong: we decided to help in spite of the timing – for the democ satisfaction of seeing answers)
(ii) – 10 pm TUEs, strong statement from Green Party’s Ian Middleton:
“I’m the leading Green candidate in Kidlington and have been campaigning on this issue for nearly 2 years.
I am totally opposed to the development plans on Green Belt in and around Kidlington, Yarnton and Begbroke. I’ve demonstrated this with sustained pressure on the district council and by spending 5 days at the public inquiry personally opposing plans to remove huge swathes of green belt from the area.
I note from his reply that Neil Prestidge [ (b) below ] also claims to be opposed to these plans. It’s a shame then that he didn’t bother to show up to the public inquiry to publicly demonstrate his opposition as I and many other local campaigners did.
It’s all very well to lay claim to opposition to such plans, but when you’re a member of the party responsible for them and you show no personal commitment to such a position beyond the initial vote, I’m not sure how anyone can expect to rely on him as a genuine representative of local feeling.
I’m very pleased to hear that Neil is opposed to the plans to build on Green Belt in Kidlington, but I think it speaks volumes that he continues to stand as a candidate for the party responsible for the plans in the first place. I note his opposition does not extend to standing down from his nomination for the Conservative Party.
For my part I am opposed to building on any green spaces in circumstances where the exceptional need to do so has not been reliably demonstrated. In the case of the plans in Kidlington, that threshold has not been reached and I remain personally committed to opposing them to the utmost of my ability.”
Summary of signatures
(a) Not fully identified: in SODC +/or the VALE:
(i) Andrew WILLIS signed but the RALLY campaign has not informed us of his ward or party.
(ii) Three illegible signatures signed (pictures below):
(b) Only one Conservative replied:
Neil PRESTIDGE Cons CHERWELL Kidlington East – wrote:
“ I will be signing and sending back – not sure I will hit the 30th April deadline. My voting record speaks for itself, I will continue to vote against inappropriate development in the green belt. ”
(We note the qualifier inappropriate).
(c) Numerous Labour candidates signed the pledge:
John MELROSE – Lab CHERWELL Bicester West
Judith WARDLE – Lab WEST OXF Eynsham&Cassington
Dave WESSON – Lab WOXF Carterton NWest
Councillor Sean WOODCOCK – Labour Leader (CHERWELL – Banbury Ruscote) wrote:
“the Labour Party pledge for this election is to ‘ Protect the Green Belt around Kidlington by properly exploring alternatives sites around the village for meeting Oxford’s Unmet Housing Need.’ ”
Candidate Joshua LAY – Labour – South Oxford) wrote that he
– would not sign the pledge as written, as there may be exceptions (e.g. farm buildings, renewable energy projects. “I can however promise the following: I, if elected to the district council in the elections on 2nd May, hereby pledge that I will vote against all proposals to build new housing developments on the Green Belt that come before the council during my period of office.”
IMPORTANT LEGAL POINT PROPOSED
(e) Three candidates > importantly > said it was legally impossible to sign:
Emily Smith LIBERAL DEMOCRAT – Leader, VALE of White Horse
Jackie Walker – LABOUR – Henley, SOUTH Oxon
and Nick Hards – LABOUR – Didcot West, SOUTH Oxon
all wrote that signing such a pledge would disbar a councillor from sitting on any planning committee deciding about any planning application to build on the green belt.
[CityVoice comment:] > The statement that a candidate cannot sign a planning policy pledge is surprising, as it appears to stifle candidates’ right to debate / freedom of speech PRIOR to the election. Could it be that this prohibition applies only to councillors stating a preformed opinion after their election ? ( We have not consulted a lawyer.) What if one writes a planning policy in a manifesto?? Is a councillor to be excluded from planning committee decisions just because of having signed off on a policy ? How can we do politics and planning at all on this basis ? What nutty aspect of the planning law is this? Cityvoice.co exists to encourage local involvement with planning knowledge and ideas – this claim sounds like a legal straitjacket prohibiting councillors from campaigning for their beliefs ! How can local democracy survive like this ?”
Written responses: Painstaking polite and lengthy from LIB DEM Leader EMILY SMITH (Vale of WH):
From Nick Hards :
We add the illegibles in case any want to identify: