Serious questions are being raised over what appears to be secrecy surrounding a key document concerning the proposed New Towns. The New Town plans by the Labour and Lib Dem controlled Town Hall will see over 30,000 homes built East and West of Colchester.
Colchester Conservatives have raised concerns over a letter from consultants, PWC, which was commissioned for a believed £50,000 of taxpayer money but was only offered in a redacted form to elected Members of Colchester Borough Council. Only pressure from the Conservatives led to Members being able to see this key document but only after making an appointment with officers. Even then they are not allowed to take pictures, make notes or take any part of the document away.
Cllr Lewis Barber, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group at the Town Hall, said: “Anyone who believes in democracy should be very concerned by this move. While it is claimed that the secret letter was mentioned within a Cabinet paper some time ago it was never explained to elected Members that they should read this as part of the New Town work. I haven’t found a backbench Member who knew of its existence and just how important it was to this scheme. Even when we did it was redacted and it has taken considerable pressure from us for elected Members to be allowed to see it, and then only under very close restrictions. It is totally shameful.”
Already, the New Towns plans have been strongly criticised for a lack of infrastructure and the huge impact on local communities by independent experts and examiners.
Cllr Barber, continued: “It is part of Council work that not every document can be made public but nothing should ever be kept from elected representatives. If the Council commissions work then the Council is 51 Members not one or two. This goes to the very heart of democracy.”
The Labour and Lib Dem ‘unholy’ alliance is also planning to spend even more money on the New Towns with an immediate £350,000 cash injection of taxpayers’ money just to keep going. This is on top of a total of £7.6 million pounds already granted to North Essex Garden Communities Ltd without any single land deal or building taking place. It’s time for the public to start asking some serious questions.