Statement from Cllr Sue Cooper, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council.
A direction from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government means we are currently unable to take any steps in connection with the adoption of the Plan, which meant it was necessary to withdraw the agenda item to discuss the plan from the 10 October Council meeting. I would like to reiterate our apology to all members of the public who had travelled to the meeting and didn’t get a chance to take part in a local democratic process.
This last-minute move from the government is an unacceptable intervention of national government into local democracy. The Secretary of State removed the democratic right of South Oxfordshire councillors and residents who turned out in great numbers to exercise those rights through listening, debating and voting in public on a matter of great importance to our district, and who have now been unfairly silenced.
This is all a great disappointment to district councillors in South Oxfordshire who remain committed to doing the right thing for the needs of residents and communities within our district. Throughout this process, we have taken a reasonable and responsible approach and will continue to do so.
We welcome the Secretary of State’s invitation for our officers to discuss our next steps with his officials. I have asked officers to continue to work constructively with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and all our local partners to work towards ensuring positive outcomes for all our residents and communities, and the removal of the Secretary of State’s direction.