Monday, November 19, 2012

Harborough District Council's deputy leader gets the sack

From the Leicester Mercury:
A council's deputy leader has been sacked over a disagreement about where hundreds of homes should be built in the future. 
Blake Pain was dismissed from the Conservative-run Harborough Council's executive today. 
Council leader Michael Rook said he and his deputy had "irreconcilable differences" over policy on allocating building land. 
Coun Pain, who represents the district's Lubenham ward, disagrees with plans to review the council's core strategy, adopted a year ago.
And the Harborough Mail has Blake Pain's full statement:
“I came into local politics because I believe in democracy, localism and public service. 
“I’m disappointed that the leader has taken the easy route by removing me. In doing so he has shut down the voice of residents who live in my division at executive level. 
“We have a core strategy that was adopted less than a year ago at a cost of about £500K of tax payers money. The proposal to replace that strategy and all its saved policies with a local plan is a political one. 
“This is a sledgehammer of a proposal which is being driven, by a few, to increase the number of houses built within the district. 
“Whilst it is not clear yet what the full impact of such a decision will have on the rest of the district, Lubenham ward has already been earmarked for a further 800 homes over and above the 1,000 accepted less than a year ago following an independent and public inspection. 
“I, like many members of the public cannot understand the logic behind where we are. In trying to make sense of the current situation, the public have researched past council papers and listened to recordings of previous meetings. 
“They have concluded that resolutions haven’t been kept, meetings have been conducted with elements of amnesia and there has been a distinct lack of relevant objective information amongst the verbal and written information offered. 
“To re-coin an infamous phrase the council is and has been 'economical'. 
“Executive committees at all councils have to make tough decisions for the benefit of the public they serve; that I do not disgree, but usually, there is an understandable logic behind those decisions. 
“When the public fails to understand the logic and their elected representative’s concerns are ignored, surely the correct democratic action isn’t to shoot the messenger.”
I suspect - and please correct me if I am wrong - that somewhere behind all this lie town vs. country tensions in the ruling Conservative group.

Harborough is a large rural district and the town of Market Harborough supplies only a minority of its councillors. More than that, Market Harborough is not well represented on the council's executive, though Pain's ward does stand next door to the town.

That executive recently voted to allow massive development on the edge of Market Harborough - a decision opposed by the local Liberal Democrats.

I suspect its rural majority reasons that if they build all the houses they can in Market Harborough then they will be able to keep their own villages from development and thus keep their voters happy.

Cllr Pain, because he speaks for residents close to Market Harborough and represents part of the town on the county too, was in the way of this plan and so had to be sacked.

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