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Super quango will take away choice’

PUBLISHED: 15:09 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:17 25 August 2010

A NEW quango will strip residents of any say over the most controversial planning issues, according to a parliamentary candidate.

A NEW quango will strip residents of any say over the most controversial planning issues, according to a parliamentary candidate.

Colin Bloom, the Conservative candidate for the Erith and Thamesmead seat, criticised Prime Minister Gordon Brown's new planning quango, the Infrastructure Planning Commission, which starts work this month.

The organisation is to take control of large projects deemed of national importance, including airports, motorways, railways, reservoirs, power stations, waste water treatment plants and hazardous waste facilities.

Colin Bloom said: "Trust in politics is at an all time low, and Gordon Brown's response is to put democracy on the scrapheap.

"Erith and Thamesmead's residents and their elected representatives are being disenfranchised on a massive scale by the most unaccountable quangocrats ever created.

"It could mean that even more unwanted developments like the Belvedere Incinerator, Belmarsh Prison and the Crossness Sewage Works could be dumped onto the area as a result.

"There are concerns that the locally unpopular Thames Gateway Bridge could get planning permission, even though local people have said that they don't want it."

The new quango will be headed by Sir Michael Pitt and guided by decisions on National Policy Statements issued by ministers.

Mr Bloom added: "At a stroke, local residents, local authorities like Bexley and Greenwich and elected representatives will be stripped of any say on the most controversial planning decisions that will affect the lives of tens of thousands of people.

"This contradicts Gordon Brown's promise when he became Prime Minister to stop politics being a spectator sport."

The quango will cost £10 million a year and its chairman will be paid £184,000 a year.

Commissioners will be appointed on a minimum fixed-term of five years and cannot be removed, short of criminal misconduct.

martin.sawden@archant.co.uk


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