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22 Dec 2003
LET EPPING KEEPS ITS VOICE ON PLANNING SAYS MP

Brentwood and Ongar Member of Parliament, Mr Eric Pickles, has called on Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to reject moves by the Treasury to remove local authority controls on planning issues claiming it is even more important for planning to be under local control following the decision to expand London Stansted Airport.
Mr Pickles said: ?The latest report on housing supply published by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Gordon Brown, includes proposals to fine local authorities which do not meet regional housing targets and at the same time calls for those targets to be increased.
?Such moves come on top of new planning laws before Parliament which will take powers away from local councils and strengthen the role of regional planning.
?Can you imagine the impact such a move could have on Ongar and the surrounding villages where our Green Belt is already under considerable pressure?
?The announcement this week that London Stansted Airport is to be expanded will lead to considerable demand for new housing in this part of Essex and it is vital that the protection of our pleasant villages and environment remain in the hands of democratically elected local councillors.
?Epping Forest District Council doesn?t get every decision right every time ? far from it - but at least we know where to find them and can make our views known about the planning applications they are considering.
?That gives local people the chance to influence their locally elected councillors who are democratically accountable to their local community and who are available to listen to the concerns of residents before acting in what they see as being the best interests of our villages.
?If these planning powers are removed from Epping Forest District Council then we will see that ability of local people to have their say on developments across our area ? especially in the Green Belt areas which surround many of our villages - under serious threat.
?Green Belt land could simply disappear as regional planning authorities ignore local points of view and push through schemes that will help them meet the house building targets and avoid being fined.
?If these proposals are implemented it is an attempt to impose unpopular regional government by the back door and I fear that we will see sprawling housing estates dumped by Whitehall on green land across Ongar and the surrounding villages irrespective of local wishes and local needs which is why I am so strongly opposed to this scheme.?
The latest news from Brentwood and Ongar Member of Parliament, Mr Eric Pickles, can be found on his web page which can be accessed at www.ericpickles.com and people can respond to the latest electronic poll through that site.
ENDS
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