WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 19th July 2023

Government procrastination

Delays and procrastination seem to be rife in the departments in Whitehall.

Is it because the civil servants are helping the ministers to avoid making decisions (similar to Yes Minister), or simply ministers wanting to avoid making any decisions on the grounds that they would be vote losers?

There was the public consultation on the Oxford Cambridge Arc in 2021 - the results of which have still not been published.

The project hasn’t been totally shelved but like a phoenix will re-emerge in different plumage so that they don’t have to tell us the result of the consultation.

Now the changes to the National Policy Planning Framework – the consultation was earlier this year and we were promised quick action and decisions in the Spring.

Now Mr Gove and his colleagues are saying that the Government received around 26,000 responses and any decisions will be delayed until at least September (and probably after the party conference season).

The proposed changes were significant and I guess that the construction industry (who contribute so much to the coffers of all political parties) have been lobbying hard to make sure that the changes favoured by many voters are quietly dropped in favour of things which increase their profitability.

I’m not sure how this will work with the next General Election having to take place before the end of 2024, but I’m sure that this will be something on the minds of many MPs.

It's not just the lack of decision making that is the problem, it’s the impact which this has on all planning activity.

If there are going to be major changes, then it will affect local plans and councils don’t want to finalise their plans under one set of rules to find out several months later that a new set of rules will take effect.

This will affect us here in the Vale of the White Horse, as the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ is one of the items under discussion.

This is currently the rule which requires us to build houses to meet the need of Oxford City as well as all of our own residents, but the proposal was to remove this rule and that would reduce the number of homes which would need to be built here.

We don’t want to have a local plan developed this year which could have thousands fewer homes under new rules in six months’ time.

If the Government is going to change the rules, why don’t they just get on with it!

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