An independent Potton councillor has slammed Central Bedfordshire Council after he says it published selected results from its public consultation on the Local Plan for housing.
Adam Zerny says the council (CBC) has given more publicity to its telephone survey than results from its consultation.
He says the consultation, carried out earlier this year, shows around 98% of those who responded opposed the plans for around 20-30,000 new homes in the borough.
A total of 1,222 people were questioned in the telephone survey. At the time there were some concerns the phone survey seemed to be encouraging people to approve of CBC’s housing plans by using positive language such as ‘attractive villages’ and ‘market towns’ he says.
The headline findings of the phone survey shows 84% of the respondents agreed with the council’s plans. It also says 80% of respondents were in favour of building new developments in the countryside and more than 60% agreed with large developments near Tempsford, Biggleswade, Cranford and Aspley.
With the main public consultation, CBC says 6,828 comments were made. 4,459 on CBC’s website with 1,780 emails and 589 letters and CBC provides the comments themselves on its Local Plan website.
Cllr Zerny who has studied the responses, said: “What CBC doesn’t say is that the vast majority of comments from the public were negative. 107 of 109 comments on the overview of the plan were against it and when it comes to residents of individual villages the vast majority also objected to the housing proposals. CBC needs to have a huge rethink.”
Most of the 124 comments in favour are from developers, surveyors and other planning consultants, he says
“There are 1,190 objections which amounts to 91% of those who offer a view one way or the other and means objections outnumber those in favour by 10:1.
“This becomes particularly clear in places like Tempsford where there were 123 people against the sites (98%) and 2 in favour. In Biggleswade 117 against (98%) and three in favour. In Potton 84 against (95%), four in favour. Millbrook 98 against (99%), one in favour, Everton 99 against (96%), four in favour, Campton, 106 against (99%), 1 in favour, Flitton 69 against (96%) and 3 against, Caddington 63 against (100%) and none in favour.”
Cllr Zerny said “This is hardly a reflection of the results of the phone survey where CBC claims more than 60% of respondents wanted to build near these locations.”
A spokesman for Central Bedfordshire Council said: “On a topic as important as the Local Plan, the Council wants to hear from as many members of the public as possible, which is why the consultation was open to everyone and was widely promoted.
“And we also want to hear the views of a representative cross-section of Central Bedfordshire residents that includes younger people as well as the older generation and from right across the area. That is why we sometimes run surveys to enable decision makers to understand the views of all residents alongside the results of the main formal public consultation. Both the survey results and all the comments made through the consultation will be considered and will be used to inform the next version of the Local Plan, which will be published for further consultation in January 2018.”