Local Decision Making

A number of things have been happening recently in and around Droitwich that have made me reflect on what local decision making really means writes Peter Luff MP
The concern about development at Copcut approved by the district council and at Yew Tree Hill opposed by the same council, brings home to me the dilemmas facing councillors.

We do need more new houses. An aging population demands it. And its still far too difficult for young people to get on to the housing ladder. But its rare for a local community to welcome new house building in their area. A strictly local approach to deciding where new houses went would probably mean very few new houses indeed got built. But doing what the last government did and trying to dictate from the centre where houses should go is undemocratic.

So I think its right that Wychavon District Council should make the difficult judgment calls about where to put them. They are more in touch with local opinion than central government would ever be. But it will still mean some very local communities being dissatisfied.

It was a similar issue with the Hartlebury incinerator. Only just up the road from Droitwich, this huge structure that will burn the waste of two counties Worcestershire and Herefordshire was fought bravely by the Hartlebury community. I was proud to stand alongside them in their fight. Recently the government inspector appointed to look into the issue decided it should be allowed to go ahead. The people of Hartlebury are really disappointed.

I happen to believe, unlike new housing, that the incinerator is wrong in principle, but there is no getting away from the fact that no other Worcestershire community stood with Hartlebury their local interests were served by having this monstrosity somewhere else.

So localism is a difficult thing. I suppose the best we can achieve is making decisions as local as possible but someone is always going to feel theyve lost out.

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