Local plan and airport expansion top the bill as new council leader starts work

PUBLISHED: 08:33 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:36 09 May 2019

John Lodge, R4U leader, now leader of Uttlesford District Council. Picture: R4U

John Lodge, R4U leader, now leader of Uttlesford District Council. Picture: R4U

Archant

"I am thrilled, a little bit stunned," said Councillor John Lodge, leader of Residents for Uttlesford, which took overall control at the local elections, upping their seats from 11 to 26.

Cllr Lodge, now the new leader of Uttlesford District Council, said: "The scale has surprised us. We expected to take control but in co-operation with other parties. We took every seat we fully campaigned for.

"The result was not a Brexit backlash. They [the Conservatives] have bungled our local plan, wasted taxpayer money, and refused to listen to residents. This is resident power at work."

He pledged to share responsibly with opposition parties "choosing talent over party" but there is limited opposition to chose from. The Liberal Democrats have seven, the Conservatives four (losing 20 seats), and the independents just two.

But he does want to share. Cllr Lodge said: "We want to foster co-operation as opposed to public or private fighting. We shall include other parties in the administration, not everyone in the cabinet will be from R4U. We will choose the best talent, not limited to which party."

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Priorities for the new regime will be Stansted Airport - to ensure that section 106 agreements are adhered to in respect of community funding, and the local plan.

R4U will seek to have new developments overseen by a development corporation saying every new town since the war has been overseen thus.

"Uttlesford has built more homes (in proportion to its population of 80,000) than any other planning authority except Tower Hamlets. We don't want development to be controlled by the developers," he said.

"We will decide when the infrastructure is built. We want the roads, shopping centres and schools there before the houses."

R4U will also revisit where the new towns will go and how many new homes are needed. After Brexit he says an economic downturn may mean fewer people moving here.

"We have a massive job ahead. The Conservative administration submitted a flawed local plan for government inspection. They've left a mess with the proposed Stansted Airport expansion, and lost millions in their property arm. I met the UDC chief executive over the bank holiday weekend and we've already started work."

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