IT was with much amusement a colleague pointed out a letter from Liz Glaisher, (Western Gazette, October 3) in which she gets virtually every fact wrong, bringing a new meaning to her quote "very low calibre".
Firstly, she accuses me of "moaning" about the Liberal Democrats letting Barratt Homes off £13 million in s106 obligations, £325 for every man, woman and child in Yeovil without giving the councillors the facts needed to vote with the correct knowledge.
She goes on to say "my Government" gave developers the right to renegotiate s106 agreements, I think she will find it is a coalition Government and the fact that the coalition Government gave developers that right does in no way makes it right for Liberal Democrat run South Somerset District Council to cave in and hand a massive sum of money like that back to the developer.
In fact, the three Conservative councillors, Marcus Fysh, Nigel Gage and Gina Seaton, did not vote for the money to be handed back and queried why no facts and figures were given to them to enable councillors to make such an important decision.
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In my area when a similar, but smaller, application came before us we deferred the matter until the facts and figures could be presented, as they would be "sensitive" to the developer, we said they could be presented in closed session. This is what the Lib Dems should have done, not roll over and vote blind to hand a £13 million concession back without any evidence.
Next she states: "Local councils have no legal mechanisms of opposing Eric Pickles' dictats". I would point out that Mr Pickles' deputy in the coalition is Don Foster (Lib Dem, Bath) who is equally responsible for the dictats, and that there is a vast difference from developers being allowed to challenge a s106 agreement and councillors granting it with no facts or figures before them.
They should have been provided in closed session – as they are sensitive – to allow councillors to judge whether to give a concession or not. The Liberal Democrats voted blind on this issue with only the "advice" of one man – the district valuer – to follow, you don't allow a £13 million concession, which will seriously affect Yeovil, so lightly.
She then states we "moan" that taxpayers will have to pay £65,000 for the "review" of the soundness of the plan. Sadly, it will likely run into many hundreds of thousands of pounds and if subsequently dismissed again, millions. Then she suggests we bought this about by our nimbyism, from what I hear about her views on further building in Brympton, that's a bit rich.
I am flattered she thinks the Liberal Democrats' Local Plan was found unsound due to our arguments but I think she does the inspector, David Hoggar, a great disservice, he is an expert who was brought in to judge that plan, if I or my colleagues said anything wrong he would have disregarded it.
The simple fact is he, as the employed expert on Local Plans, examined the Liberal Democrats submission and declared it unfit for purpose, the Conservatives knew it was unfit for purpose and had been trying to warn the Liberal Democrats but they chose not to listen.
The next untruth is that if ribbon or necklace development takes place there will be no schools, no road improvements, nothing. This is complete nonsense, there would be s106 obligations on every one of those developments if they take place. Her final error in this catalogue of errors is when she states: "If their opposition of the setting of the budget last year is anything to go by".
Anyone who was there would have known we did not oppose the council's budget, we abstained and Martin Wale, the Conservative group leader said, quite rightly, that if we were in power our budget would have been somewhat different.
So there you have it, a Liberal Democrat council which is of such low calibre their Local Plan was declared not fit for purpose, a Liberal Democrat council that blindly waived through a £13 million concession to the detriment of every resident in Yeovil, and a Conservative opposition that correctly pointed out the Local Plan flaws and three Conservative councillors on area south who refused to vote for the £13 million concession to Barratt Homes without facts and figures which have never been provided.
It seems the Liberal Democrats' mistakes are being rumbled time and time again and they don't like it.
FIRSTLY, I must comment on the Western Gazette report of the Lib Dem-controlled district council letting highly profitable Barratt Homes out of £13 million of public obligations for facilities at Lyde Road in Yeovil – that's £300 for every resident of Yeovil for which hard working rate payers are now on the hook.
Conservatives on the council's area south committee, including myself, did not vote for this and protested strongly. Facts and figures were not given to us as requested as to why the developer might need a concession, contrary to the Lib Dem leader's claims.
Had the council pushed too hard to get affordable housing put up first, without thought for the consequences on community mix, infrastructure provision and profitability? The fact is the majority Lib Dem councillors on the committee voted to give this concession without scrutiny in the committee. Local Conservatives have plans for development that will make our area better not worse.
Secondly, I wish to thank J Stevens for a recent open letter in the Western Gazette to me as prospective MP for Yeovil. It included questions about welfare, tax, and what sort of person I am. I will have to come back to its points in more detail another time if the Western Gazette will allow me some column inches.
I am down to earth, family oriented and love helping our community. I support welfare reform because we have to spend less than we take in tax, or debt will ruin us, though I want to give people as much chance as possible to plan for change.
Strong Conservative leadership has helped us turn the corner but there's more to do. We must keep encouraging the earning "horse", as well as trimming the spending "cart", so steady progress can help the truly needy. We tried it the other way round as a nation under Labour, and almost broke down. To allow "Red Ed" to take us backwards now would be crazy.
I'm proud Conservatives have taken millions out of tax, created jobs and capped welfare. We must make our system simple and rewarding for all who want to work hard and get on. Only a Conservative majority will continue to deliver on changing the something for nothing culture.
I want a referendum on a renegotiated EU, not more of the same. There's progress getting immigration down, but we need more realistic limits on economic migration and services provided. In electing me, our area would get a strong, independent-minded voice with clear goals, not one automatically looking to coalition and horse trading of principles and promises. Anything else will deliver not progress, but uncertainty, weakness, higher taxes and mortgage rates.
I am seeking to be sent by the people of the Yeovil constituency to represent them at Westminster, on a fair, honest basis. I respect the trust people place in their politicians, having been simply an elector myself till the last few years of serving on the local councils.
Finally, I congratulate Cathy Bakewell on being appointed to the Lords, and acknowledge her long county council service. I must note, however, she chose not to stand in the county election I recently won convincingly in Coker, and her Lib Dem party, not the people, have appointed her.
The Conservative county council now has some very tough choices due to reduced national funding, approved by Lib Dems in cabinet including Mr Laws. That must not be forgotten, nor how much harder those decisions are because of the county debt that burgeoned under Mrs Bakewell's leadership.
I do hope the Lib Dems take a mature attitude, and support us in bringing the community together to deliver what it needs.
"LABOUR rapped for pledge over badger cull." Peter Kendall tells us that the cull in the Republic of Ireland has had a 50 per cent reduction. What he doesn't tell us is that culling is proactive in the Republic in that only infected farms have badger's culled round them.
Also in Northern Ireland, badgers are cage trapped and tested, infected animals are culled and non infected animals are vaccinated, Ireland is not England and this current cull here is not going according to plan, not many badgers accounted for, and all at great cost.
Good for Mary Creagh in speaking out and saying Labour would scrap this ridiculous exercise, Lord Krebs could have told them all that when he completed the last cull in the 70s.