Close the inquiry’ councillor tells MP
GOVERNMENT minister Hazel Blears has been warned that the only way she can keep credibility intact is by closing down the Mereham inquiry. The call came from Haddenham County Councillor, Bill Hunt, after Ms Blears gave assurances in Parliament that the pr
GOVERNMENT minister Hazel Blears has been warned that the only way she can keep credibility intact is by closing down the Mereham inquiry.
The call came from Haddenham County Councillor, Bill Hunt, after Ms Blears gave assurances in Parliament that the project for 5,000 new homes would be decided "in accordance with all the local plans".
"If she believes this is the case she should call a halt to this inquiry now and send everyone home," said Cllr Hunt.
"If she is to keep her credibility and that of her Labour Government she has no other choice.
"If she decides not to reject Mereham than her words have no value. Why doesn't she just instruct the inquiry to pack up and go home?"
Cllr Hunt's call for action came after South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice raised the issue in a Parliamentary question to Ms Blears, the secretary of state for communities and local government.
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He asked her whether she would consider the outcome of the Mereham inquiry after allowing for the views of local people or would she allow her desire for three million new homes to override local democracy?
Ms Blears will make the final judgement on the Mereham new town project when the planning inspector's recommendation lands on her desk.
She told MPs the decision will be made "entirely properly, in accordance with all the local plans and the most up-to-date planning rules."
But Mr Paice is not convinced and claims the fact that she is taking into account local plans does not mean she has to comply with them.
"My concern is that her housing figures will override," he said. "She has left herself plenty of wriggle room.
"If this appeal goes through there is nothing to stop all the other sites which were rejected a few years ago after and examination in public from trying again. What vestige of local decision making is left in planning would then be gone forever."
On Thursday, district councillor, Anna Bailey, called on Andy Macdonald, managing director of developer, Multiplex, to give up the fight.
She asked him during the planning inquiry whether he would like some help packing his bags after he acknowledged that he was aware of the overwhelming local opposition to the Mereham project and that he believed in democracy.
n A petition against Mereham has now reached 6,000 signatures and will be available to sign for the last time at Ely Market Place on Saturday.