What happened to localism?

PUBLISHED: 12:20 11 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:57 04 May 2010

East Cambridgeshire residents fear that the planning Inspector has come to town but it may all be for nothing. Local people are forming an army to fight a proposal for a new town development of 5,000 homes known as Mereham in the rural heart of their dist

East Cambridgeshire residents fear that the planning Inspector has come to town but it may all be for nothing.

Local people are forming an army to fight a proposal for a new town development of 5,000 homes known as Mereham in the rural heart of their district.

Whilst local people have faith that they can prove their case against the proposal to the planning inspectorate they fear that, in the end, just one person will make the decision - the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears MP.

A recent decision in the neighbouring county of Bedfordshire by Mid Bedfordshire Council to turn down a planning application by Center Parcs to build a new holiday village on green belt land was underlined by the planning inspectorate when it was recommended by the inspector that the application be thrown out. This recommendation was overturned by Mrs Blears and work on the development is now due to begin in 2009. Local people, who will live with the result of Mrs Blears' decision, are outraged that in a democratic state, the system can allow this to happen.

Hazel Blears is a champion of the local agenda.

In a recent announcement at the Local Government Association Conference in July, she outlined her thoughts about the importance of localism.

Mrs Blears went on to say she believes councillors are the people to deliver the local agenda.

But she is not prepared to hand over planning to the communities.

Where are the Secretary of State's thoughts on giving back powers to the local people to shape their own environment and their own way of living?

Anna Bailey

Cambridge Road

Ely, Cambs

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