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Three Rivers District Councillors condemn proposals to change planning laws
Liberal Democrat councillors in Three Rivers joined Watford colleagues in condemning Coalition Government plans to allow home owners to extend their properties without planning permission.
The motion, put forward by council leader Ann Shaw, criticised Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles’ plan - warning it would leave the green belt vulnerable.
The motion was similar to one proposed by Watford Lib Dems earlier this month and was carried with 31 votes for and none against as all 13 members of the Conservative group present abstained from voting at last night’s (Tuesday) full council meeting.
During a heated discussion Councillor Shaw stressed the importance of planning to local residents, citing high attendance in planning committee meetings compared to other council functions.
She added: "This council has worked very hard for many years to protect the environment and I think we can be proud of what we have achieved."
But Conservative leader Chris Hayward accused the Lib Dems of seeing themselves as ‘Big Brother’ and not trusting local people to make decisions.
He said: "I do accept that the eight metre home extensions will inevitably attract controversy with as many against the freedom to build as will be for it.
"Perhaps legislation should have given some protection in the event of disputes but the reality is that it has not."
He added: "The reality too is that this motion passed by the administration’s block vote and maybe as Eric (Pickles) would say ‘their Labour chums’ will not of course cause the coalition government to reverse its proposals in any event."
The council will now write to the secretary of state stressing their opposition to the proposals and request they be withdrawn.
Councillor Shaw added: "Our message to the Government is - this is not Localism.
"We want the government to listen to local people who know their own district far better than ministers.
"We are stunned that the Three Rivers Conservatives refused to support us on this."