Yesterday, the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, sent a letter to South Oxfordshire District Council directing the council to progress the plan through examination to be adopted by December this year, and for senior council officers to report monthly to MHCLG officials on progress of the plan, claiming that government powers in Section 27 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 gave him the authority to override SODC’s usual democratic decision making processes.
We find Jenrick’s letter to be incredible in the truest sense of the word.
Notwithstanding that the last five months delay is entirely due to Jenrick’s holding order and other disingenuities, it gives SODC ownership in name only of the Local Plan: they retain all responsibility and culpability whilst losing any authority and control over the plan. It is clearly setting SODC up as a scapegoat for any anger from betrayed voters.
Bullying now seems endemic, and perhaps agreed policy, of Johnson’s government – but we believe SODC should follow the example set at the weekend and stand up to Jenrick by refusing to comply with his instructions. If he attempts to remove Local Plan control from SODC we believe that they should seek a judicial review on Jenrick’s actions including a holding order on the plan and its examination in public until the review is complete. Any further delays would be therefore be entirely Jenrick’s fault as indeed the last five months delay was entirely at his hand.