The latest update from Neil O’Brien, dated Friday 24th November 2023, is shown below. The decision is due to be made at the next HDC meeting on Monday 11th December 2023.
Council set to blow £2 million of taxpayers’ money on plan that will see a quarter more houses built in Harborough
I wanted to update you regarding the vote in our local council about whether to accept a quarter more houses from Leicester. When I last wrote, councillors had deferred the vote on signing the “Statement of Common Ground” for a second time, with the decision on signing up to the overspill housing now set to be taken at a meeting on 11thDecember.
Since then, the council have released details about how they intend to deliver this plan, including how much it will cost.
New documents were quietly published by the council late last Friday night. The documents show they are set to spend nearly two million pounds extra public money on paying expensive planning consultants, as part of a high-risk dash to try and write a new local plan in less than 18 months. To put that in context, the last time the council wrote a plan, it took seven years.
Despite the proposal to spend this huge sum on expensive consultants, the document also admits that all the extra money (which is on top of previously planned spending) “does not guarantee” that the council will even hit its target, because the process would be so rushed. The Cabinet of the council is due to sign off this extra spending on Monday 27thNovember.
The Councillor in charge, Simon Galton, has admitted that “It is absolutely true that the council legally doesn’t have to sign this document.”
Given this admission, such huge spending to push through something that local people clearly don’t want adds to my concerns about the council.
An extraordinary letter recently sent by unelected, taxpayer-funded officials of the council accused all those opposing the overspill housing plan of “exploiting public resentment at the thought of the district being ‘required’ to accept unmet housing need from the district of Leicester City.”
In reality, opposing this huge, unnecessary increase in our housing target isn’t ‘exploiting’ anything: it reflects huge local concern. Such an unfair and partisan statement is not the sort of thing that supposedly neutral officials should be writing. Disappointingly, the council’s interim Chief Executive is defending it.
What the council are proposing is a double whammy for Harborough residents. Choosing to go on what they are calling the “fast track” route means that Harborough would have to accept nearly a quarter more homes, and residents will end up paying nearly two million more in tax for the privilege.
Previously, the council leader Cllr Knowles, along with other councillors in the ruling group, have been telling residents they ‘haven’t made up their mind’.
But in voting to spend all this extra money on expensive consultants, the council have made it clearer than ever they intend to push this through, despite huge local opposition.
I’m worried that we are about to be locked into a much higher housebuilding target for many years to come.
Even though we have grown our housing stock nearly twice as fast as the city, we are now being asked to build even more, so that Leicester can build even less.
Instead of falling, as it otherwise would, our housebuilding target would go up by nearly a quarter, and would be the highest housebuilding target per head anywhere in the county.
How you can help stop this
You can still register your concerns at the meeting on 11th December:
1. Please ask a question at the council meeting. As a member of the public, you can ask councillors why they are embarking on this plan. There are many questions they are not answering. Please reply to this email and I can provide you with details with how to do this, and I can help by providing you with some of the questions they haven’t answered.
2. If you don’t want to ask a question, please email me if you can come along. Hopefully we can show councillors how strongly the Harborough community feels about this plan by turning up in force.
3. Please email your councillors to ask why they are voting to spend all this money if they really “haven’t made up their mind.” A list is below.
Many thanks for helping, together I hope we can still stop this.
Local councillors who are planning to vote for the increase by Ward:
Alan Birch – A.Birch@harborough.gov.uk
Jo Asher – J.Asher@harborough.gov.uk
Market Harborough Welland
Rose Forman – R.Forman@harborough.gov.uk
Lynne Taylor – L.Taylor@harborough.gov.uk
Darren Woodiwiss – D.Woodiwiss@haborough.gov.uk
Market Harborough Little Bowden
Stuart Finan – S.Finan@harborough.gov.uk
Peter James – P.James@harborough.gov.uk
Market Harborough Logan
Barbara Johnson – B.Johnson@harborough.gov.uk
Geraldine Whitmore – G.Whitmore@harborough.gov.uk
Great Bowden and Arden
Buddy Anderson – B.Anderson@harborough.gov.uk
Phil Knowles P.Knowles@harborough.gov.uk