DBC Cabinet meeting 17th Oct – A Personal Report

On Tuesday night the six councillors who make up the DBC Cabinet duly approved the Local Plan draft consultation documents which will go out for consultation between the 1st November and 13th December.

As democratic processes go it was hardly the most uplifting of spectacles.

Sure there was a much bigger audience than usual – though largely due to the weighty (in more ways than one) numbers of developers from London, Essex and probably further afield who presumably turned up to savour the first blow landed on our community.

BRAG decided not speak having had last month’s statement firmly ignored, but a representative from Grove Fields Residents Association did and as it happened his opening point was about democracy, or in his belief the lack of it within this process (as per the article in The Gazette 11th Oct). The Chair answered his points but when the GFRA representative asked if he could respond he was told firmly but politely (well we are British)…. NO

The lack of any democratic debate was a strong theme as Cabinet moved on to the business at hand, namely Item 7 : Local Plan Review.

To say the discussion was lightweight would accept that there was actually a discussion. Sure the councillors spoke – there were several ‘peacock’ statements made with the appropriate amount of passion.

One councillor wanted to make sure DBC Planning were going to pin posters on notice boards to advertise the process – James Doe (Assistant Director – Planning, Development and Regeneration) seemed to accept that was a capital idea. He went on to point out that they would also be all over social media, though in truth I’m pretty sure the councillor already knew that from the Gazette story (11th Oct) highlighting a DBC Planning Officer’s attempt to join (or should that be infiltrate?) a Tring Facebook group.

A second councillor wanted to know the difference between Green Field and Green Belt – boy, if they don’t know that by now then we are in trouble – while another suggested that she expected most of the responses to the consultation to be against the plan and that she is “behind those views”.

Good to know there will be at least one councillor willing to stand up for the community? Maybe not as her closing volley was basically: if not this plan then what else can we do? To me at least, that sounds more like have your say but we will go ahead regardless. Democracy indeed.

If all this seems a bit of a cynical view of what went on at Tuesday’s meeting, then I guess it is and it would be amusing within the framework of a Monty Python sketch, but it isn’t.

The Local Plan that goes for consultation on 1st November is potentially the most damaging document with respect to the future of Berkhamsted and Dacorum as a whole, and it is imperative that as many residents respond as possible.


Part of the Green Belt up for grabs in the proposed Local Plan


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