As a former Watford Borough Councillor I am dismayed at the Liberal Democrat decision not to raise concerns about the housing needs targets in their own local plan. Throughout the past year, the Liberal Democrats have repeatedly used the housing needs targets for headlines and leaflets, consistently criticising supposedly immovable housing targets. These targets were indeed movable.

Yet, when our local Conservative MP, Dean Russell, quite rightly raised a point of information to inform councillors of his question to the Secretary of State which indicated the local plan can be used to challenge targets, they still voted through the plan and instead of thanking Mr Russell, went on the attack.

Perhaps they could explain what the MP was supposed to do? Do they really think he shouldn’t have informed councillors what he had been told by the Secretary of State i.e. that housing needs targets were a ‘starting point for negotiation’? Should he have kept quiet that their local plan could be used to challenge the targets - despite their plan not raising any concerns with housing numbers?

Their response to the letter by Mr Russell says a lot about the local Lib Dems. If they really wanted to challenge the numbers they would have appreciated his intervention, instead they realise they had been rumbled and went on a personal, unacceptable attack.

As a former Conservative councillor myself I have been saying for a long time that the Watford Lib Dems are more focused on the polls than on the people of Watford. Monday’s vote proves it.

Just as we saw their complete disregard for local residents during lockdown when they delivered their leaflets (despite other political parties rightfully suspending campaigning) this debacle with the local plan has made their intentions crystal clear; the Lib Dems care more about headlines, leaflets and photo opportunities than our community. If they truly did care, the mayor would have, at bare minimum, included concerns about tall towers and over-development in his foreword of the local plan.

He has done none of this.

This failure just shows how much they have taken their eye off the ball. They have spent the last year crying wolf trying to blame the Government and our hard-working MP for their own decisions. Yet when it really counts, they vote through a local plan that doesn’t include any mention of issues with the housing numbers.

As always, the Lib Dems focus all their attention on leaflets, tweets, headlines and letters but when it comes to the crunch they can’t even be bothered to put concerns in their own official document. Let’s face it, that’s because they aren’t really concerned but know it will help win favour with voters if they pretend to be, just like the Chesham and Amersham by-election recently where they shamelessly campaigned against HS2 to win over voters whilst advocating for it in their manifesto and in Parliament!

For too long the Liberal Democrats have been given free rein over our town and sadly they have shown their true colours this week. They play politics with peoples lives and blame everyone else for their decisions. People have had enough and they need to be held to account.

Binita Mehta-Parmar

Deputy Chair, Watford Conservative Association