Bernard Hall, Cuddington
By Haddenham Webteam - 29th January 2015 2:30pm
Having attended yesterday's meeting of AVDC's Strategic Development Management Committee, one Haddenham resident offers a personal view of this extraordinary and potentially historic episode in the life of the village:
Frustrated, exasperated, perplexed and confounded were the words used to describe AVDC's obsequious observance of dictat, protocol and procedure.
The three members of AVDC strategic development management committee who voted against the proposal to approve the construction of 280 houses on the Aston Road land are to be applauded for their integrity and sense of electoral responsibility by not wishing to go against the obvious and manifest wishes of residents.
The six members who ensured approval and thereby condemned Haddenham's Neighbourhood Plan to the dustbin of history plainly do not understand or empathise with the desire of our community to take control of its own destiny.
The six man AVDC junta, none of whom live here, spent their time worrying whether the rule and regulations could provide them with any 'wiggle' room, whether a spare bus might be found, how the 'Nature park' might be assured and what the chances were of the Secretary of State calling in the application. Before deciding the future of a community of 5500 souls, fatuous advice such as getting ourselves a charter and becoming a town, wishing people wouldn't use their cars and reiterating the national need for housing were uttered.
So there it stands. Six elected representatives of other areas know best what Haddenham needs and have made an irrevocable decision.
Perhaps we should be thankful for the provision of a Nature Park despite the fact that we already have one called Snakemoor and had we wanted one we would have said so in the neighbourhood Plan and we certainly wouldn't wish to assured of its provision by an unelected lawyer on AVDC's payroll.
Set this against a background where AVDC planners had recently recommended the construction of a crematorium only for the Secretary of State to call in the application thereby discrediting their judgement. The application to build 3500 houses on the outskirts has just been rejected on appeal by an Inspector, so AVDC needed a quick win.
Also bear in mind that the whole situation has arisen through the failure of AVDC to get its District Strategic plan approved. Furthermore AVDC has repeatedly provided the Parish with misplaced advice about the merits of a Neighbourhood Plan. Indeed one smug member of the Committee proudly regaled the multitude with tales of derring- do before the High Court with his area's Neighbourhod Plan. Within the hour his vote had contributed to the downfall of our plan.
Haddenham's right to determine its own future by a fair and transparent democratic process has been emasculated by a cadre of elected officials whose dilatory insistence on observing their regulatory duty outweighed their sense of democratic justice.
One can understand how pleas and calls to volunteer to help our community are rebuffed with the wry comment 'Why bother?'
This item has provoked another resident to offer the following response:
I think the contributor who wrote their feelings under "venting their spleen" must have been reading my mind. They sum up what every resident who attended that debacle of democracy must be feeling. They missed out one point which I found unbelievable. The councillor from Winslow firstly compared Winslow to Haddenham. I have nothing against Winslow but that is like saying a grapefruit is like an orange! They may be similar sizes but they are different flavours. He then had the nerve (or stupidity) to say that as the site was in the Neighbourhood plan as being suitable for development then we could hardly object to the planning application. Slight difference in the number of houses Councillor!
It is a sobering thought that such a small number of people can have such a devastating effect on our village. The automatons that attended and droned on about process and legal waffle seemed to block any thinking about the broader picture apart from the brave three who spoke with some feeling about needing to take Haddenham's views into account.
I sincerely hope the fight is not over, we must use every means possible to ensure a good future for where we live.
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