Councillor Spent Weeks Pouring Over Masterplan Documents

PUBLISHED: 15:42 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 May 2010

Cllr Ian Allen spent weeks poring over documents after he received the Masterplan documents. He said his search to find a flaw in the process was not borne out of spite or malice but a desire to protect local democracy. It s not about party politics, he

Cllr Ian Allen spent weeks poring over documents after he received the Masterplan documents. He said his search to find a flaw in the process was not borne out of spite or malice but a desire to protect local democracy.

"It's not about party politics," he insisted. "I don't care if Cllr Ashton stood to gain financially from Lisle Lane or not, the rules have not been followed. It's an abuse of local democracy."

"At Strategic Development [meeting in April] I asked Cllr James Palmer where the mandate for the Masterplan was. He said, We won the election. Yes, the Conservatives won the election, but they didn't win the election on the specific mandate to carry out a Masterplan. There is a mandate to go through open public consultation before the council moves forward, and in this case decisions have been made and altered well before anyone was consulted. Council members did not even receive a copy of the draft Masterplan before it was released to the press."

"It's an incredible shame that they shot the Masterplan down completely from the start as when they set up the steering group no one knew who was on it. Why wasn't there an Independent or a Lib Dem on that group?"

"The Masterplan is going to last for 20 years - that's five council terms. It was to become a legal document incorporated into the Local Development Framework. [government planning guidelines issued by every district council in the UK].

But the chief executive of East Cambridgeshire District Council, John Hill, insisted: "We have no reason to believe that these events have affected the actual content of the Masterplan, which was considered in public and approved of for public consultation. From the information available to us, we believe there is no allegation of dishonesty or secrecy relating to this process, rather inadvertent action but these are matters which the auditor will investigate."

The recently-announced Soham and Littleport masterplans, worth another £40,000 of public money also hang in the balance.

Cllr Fred Brown and Cllr James Palmer have been nominated to the steering group for Littleport and Soham masterplans respectively, but both own significant pieces of land in the areas up for discussion and may wish to revise their decision depending on the outcome of the council's own investigation and the standards board.

Thousands of district council magazines will now have to be withdrawn from circulation as the face of Brian Ashton, now ex-leader of the council, adorns the foreword, which talks about the Masterplan. Even if councillors vote not to scrap the Masterplan altogether, the district council faces a bill of thousands of pounds in wasted magazines.

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