Planning Minister Nick Boles MP is under fire from a local councillor for “trivialising the fears of Ribble Valley residents and attempting to bribe them with hard cash”.
Clitheroe’s Deputy Mayor, Coun. Kevin Horkin, describes the Minister’s offer of cash fo communities which acceptnew housing development as “outrageous and out-of-touch”.
Speaking on a BBC Newsnight programme, Mr Bole announced that communities who embrace the idea of new housing will be rewarded with cash to spend as they wish. He even added, jokingly: “I wanted to call it the Boles bung”.
Coun. Horkin has now written to the Planning Minister inviting him to visit Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley to judge public opinion for himself.
“I want him to come here and face the music. We don’t want a bribe in exchange for turning a blind eye to housing development on our greenbelt, instead we want to be listened to,” said Coun. Horkin.
“This area has specific infrastructure problems; a lack of roads, schools, doctors and dentists surgeries, which means any large scale housing development will have a devastating impact.”
Speaking on the Newsnight programme, Mr Boles defended the idea of rewarding local communities with money if they supported housing development in their area, even referring to it himself as a “bribe”.
“I couldn’t believe my ears,” exclaimed Coun. Horkin. “How dare the Planning Minister be so trivial and cavalier about the whole thing? The Ribble Valley is at the centre of the kingdom and right now it is at the centre of monumental changes in planning and housing legislation.
“The quaint market town of Clitheroe and the surrounding area is being swamped with applications from developers who see it as the perfect place to build. Not surprisingly local people are extremely worried about the future and their concerns need to heard.”
Coun. Horkin said a senior Government Minister hasn’t paid a visit to the Ribble Valley for the past 20 years and the time has come to show the strength of public feeling.
“I accept that we need future housing provision, something Ribble Valley Borough Council is diligently working towards. We need a strategic plan which works, not outrageous and unhelpful comments from a Planning Minister who is clearly out of touch,” said Coun. Horkin.