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Oxted Parish Council has "let down the community"

We have received so many dismayed comments from residents about Oxted Parish Council's response to Tandridge Council's Local Plan Sites Consultation that we are posting some below. We have received no comments in support. Oxted Parish Council has 4 Councillors who are also Tandridge District Councillors.

There is widespread concern that Oxted Parish Council's response is highly inadequate and simply agrees with the documents produced by Tandridge District Council. There is no effort to make any independent or objective analysis nor any interest shown in protecting the local Green Belt.

To read Oxted Parish Council's response click here

You may want to compare it with the in-depth response from Limpsfield Parish Council which can be read on this link click here

All the other Parish Council responses we have seen so far provide a similarly robust defence of their Green Belt.

Oxted Parish Council has 4 Parish Councillors who are also Tandridge District Councillors. They are: Martin Fisher, the leader of Tandridge District Council; David Weightman, until recently chairman of Tandridge Council's Planning Policy Committee and who fronted the first Local Plan Consultation for Tandridge Council; Elizabeth Parker, Tandridge District Councillor for Oxted South; and Beverley Connolly, Tandridge District Councillor for Caterham's Harestone Ward.

We are worried by the clear conflict of interest with 4 Tandridge District Councillors also sitting on Oxted Parish Council - it means they are commenting on their own Local Plan proposals and so are, effectively, judge and jury.

Some comments from residents:

'The Oxted Parish Council appear to have let down those they have been elected to represent. If the spreadsheet really is the totality of the submission that is simply awful.'

'The difference in the quality of the two parish council responses beggars belief. I could have written the Oxted Parish Council response in about five minutes whereas the Limpsfield response is by contrast considered and comprehensive. Do you intend to seek a vote of no confidence in the Oxted Parish Council over this matter as they have clearly failed to do a proper job in responding to TDC and to act in the interests of their parishioners?'

'We were absolutely appalled to see the inadequacy of the response when compared to others but not surprised when noting that 4 of the councillors sit on both councils. This is absolutely a conflict of interest and potentially completely invalidates the response.'

'Limpsfield PC have obviously spent time examining the credentials of each site in the parish and have critically analysed these against established planning criteria. Oxted PC on the other hand have just regurgitated what is in the site consultation document with no critical examination whatsoever.'

'I reside within this Parish Council Area and the response DOES NOT represent the views of those I speak to in this area.'

'Why would they agree to building on Ellice rd car park when we have so little car parking for residents and it would be hugely detrimental to shops who already are going to be paying higher rates. Oxted parish council are not representing the interests of residents.'

'Extremely disappointed at the response of Oxted Parish Council'..Such an obvious disregard to the people that they are supposedly serving with a view to representing our interests.'

'The conflict of interest of the same people on both councils is worrying as is their dominance in the planning process. We want people who are prepared to represent local interests and question processes to ensure residents' priorities are included in the process.'

'..the quality of the response is very poor with no analysis or justification for the conclusions. I'm not familiar with Parish Councils but these people certainly don't represent me.'

'I've never been comfortable with individuals being both Parish and District Councillors - it can give a perception (perceptions, true or not are important) of conflict of interest, there could be a conflict and it dilutes any scrutiny of both councils, more of which is needed.'

'Well if these councillors are the people who have so very clearly made a mess of the plan we should get them voted out as soon as possible. It's unlikely there will be any due diligence or true representation while they are still there.'

'There is a concerning conflict of interest and a worrying sense that whilst the Parish Councillors are 'marking their own homework', we will never benefit from a clear and independent critique. Longer term, this can be solved by new and independent candidates running for Tandridge and Parish council seats (either one or the other, not both)'

'I think the document is a disgrace and no effort has gone into it.'

'The comments by OPC are totally inadequate and, as you comment, seem to be just agreeing with TDC. Blatant, very.'

'I looked at the issue that concerns me most ' the proposed development of Ellice Road car park. The parish council's note that they agree to its development but 'are concerned about the loss of the car park' is a wholly inadequate response and a complete abdication of responsibility.'

'All I can say is that it is so appalling it's beyond belief.'

'TDC's ambitions are so out of kilter with the views of the local population and their housing development plans so ambitious that the whole council should submit itself for re-election.'

'We are sure that OLRG will highlight the conflict of interest which is clearly evidenced in the 'slapdash' response and is a disgrace when compared with the measured and detailed response of Limpsfield PC''

'It is necessary to highlight to a wider audience in Tandridge the appalling inadequacy of the Oxted response.'