News and Updates
Now that the dust has begun to settle following the surprising Local Election results, it's worth reflecting on what the results might mean for the StopBAD campaign.
Due to the boundary changes that saw Bourn, Longstowe and Little Gransden incorporated into a new Caldecote Ward we had two StopBAD supporting District Councillors - Des O'Brien and Tumi Hawkins - competing for one seat on the council. That meant that, irrespective of the result, the campaign to stop 3,500 houses being built on Bourn Airfield would have a spokesperson on the council. In the event, Tumi Hawkins won the Caldecote seat by a comfortable margin and we have a very able councillor at the heart of a now Liberal Democrat-controlled District Council.
The Liberal Democrats - who voted against the Local Plan in 2014 - now have 30 seats while the Conservatives have been reduced to 11. The ousting of so many Conservative councillors - many of whom voted to keep Bourn Airfield in the Local Plan - could be very good news for the campaign.
The architects of our misguided, and much delayed, emerging Local Plan have now left the field: the councillors and officers who concocted the Local Plan have either retired, resigned, or been voted out of office. One would naturally think that the Plan would therefore need to be re-drafted. Unfortunately, that is unlikely and the Local Plan inspection process will continue to its conclusion (latest estimates for the Inspectors' Report is late summer).
The Liberal Democrats find themselves in a tricky position with respect to the Local Plan. While on the face of it a change of Council leadership would suggest a change of policy - such a policy change may not materialise. The Liberal Democrats will be reluctant to derail the Local Plan as it's the only game in town. However, if they defend the Plan as it stands, they are likely to face a significant backlash from their supporters and others who are worried about the glaringly obvious transport infrastructure weaknesses that undermine the Local Plan.
It will be important over the coming weeks and months for StopBAD to speak to the Liberal Democrat leadership and the new Liberal Democrat councillors, to re-iterate our case against BAD. Many of the new councillors are first time councillors and may not yet be fully briefed on the Local Plan. Some will not be aware of the StopBAD campaign and our arguments against the inclusion of Bourn Airfield in the Local Plan.
What the election results made clear was that local people were unhappy with the direction their local representatives were taking the District. This new council must be better at listening to local residents' concerns about the nature and scale of housing development and they must develop and communicate a vision for South Cambridgeshire's future in partnership with the people who live here.
StopBAD Chairman Des O'Brien ha been elected as the Conservative candidate for South Cambridgeshire District Council with 3,002 votes - a majority of a whopping 1,500 votes!
Thank you to all StopBAD supporters who helped to achieve this result. Look out for further news here as to the next steps in our campaign to stop the developments at Bourn Airfield and West Cambourne.
A personal message from our Chairman, Des O'Brien:
The whole of South Cambridgeshire faces enormous challenges: one of these challenges is managing the changes that come with economic growth so that the uniqueness of the area isn't squandered. It’s vital that sustainable and sensible plans are in place with respect to planning, transport and education as well as medical and social services provision. I believe that council representatives have lost touch with the people they are elected to represent and that they have begun to make decisions without fully engaging with the people who elected them. More than ever before, our elected representatives need to be people who understand the issues and can get things done.
Since learning of the District Council’s plans to site 5000 new houses in Bourn Ward, I have led the StopBAD campaign to demonstrate that Bourn Airfield development and West Cambourne are unsustainable because too little consideration had been given to the impact these new developments will have on traffic congestion. The major employment centres lie elsewhere in the county and the vast majority of people will be forced to drive to work. I have worked tirelessly to understand why these decisions were made and why the Council failed to fully engage with local people, or to take their views into consideration.
I have chosen to stand as the Conservative candidate for the Bourn Ward in the May election for 2 reasons. Firstly, I was courted and asked to stand by the Conservative leadership who are looking for capable, strong-minded and committed councillors to help improve the quality of local government and, secondly, because I believe that being inside the Council gives the StopBAD campaign a greater chance for success. I have learned a great deal over the last 2 years of the campaign and intend to be an active councillor who’ll continue to fight hard on behalf of all the people of Bourn Ward.
A vote for Des means a vote for active representation.
Vote for Des on May 7th