Councillor sacked for ‘being honest’
A DISTRICT councillor claims she was sacked from her position on the cabinet because she asked the authority to reconsider a controversial planning document in light of new Government guidelines.
Conservative Sherrie Green has been replaced as Suffolk Coastal District Council’s cabinet member for community well being.
Mrs Green, who represents the parishes of Falkenham, Kirton, Trimley St Martin and Trimley St Mary, sent an e-mail to colleagues asking them to look again at the Local Development Framework (LDF) following the election of the new co-alition government.
In March councillors approved Suffolk Coastal’s Core Strategy, which set out how the district would grow and develop - including where new homes should be built and protected.
The document was central to the LDF and based on housing targets that were set by the old Labour administration.
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But earlier this month new local government secretary Eric Pickles scrapped the regional strategies - giving councils more freedom to prepare their local plans without having to follow top-down targets.
As a result Mrs Green, who was elected in 2003 and had been on the cabinet five years, sent an e-mail to colleagues asking them to stick to a clause in their March agreement that said they would look again at the LDF if there was a change in national policy.
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Her e-mail said: “The regional spatial strategy has been overturned and in line with what we stated at the vote I think we need to be honest with local people and actually stop this LDF and go back to the drawing board.
“To not do this makes us appear disingenuous...this is not about one person’s dream but about what local people want and there are more out there who are against some of these developments, who simply do not voice their descent.
“Can we please look at this again. This is going to lose us votes if we continue to stubbornly push through the LDF, certainly those of us in urban areas.”
However after sending out the message she was removed from post and has had to resign other responsibilities including as national chairman of the Association of Port Health Authorities and chairman of the Community Safety Partnership.
Speaking last night she said: “I believe it [the e-mail] is the sole reason.
“I represent my electorate - I don’t feel I have done anything wrong.
“In the past the argument has always been that the Government said 10,000 houses were needed and that was what we had to do. However, now that is not the case.
“I’m interested in honesty and transparency. That’s what the new coalition government is all about.
“My integrity is in tact and I will now vociferously pursue a reduction in housing in this area.”
When announcing the Core Strategy in March Andy Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for planning, said the document was not set in stone.
“If there are changes to national or regional planning policy then we will inevitably adapt our policies to take account of them,” he said.
Mrs Green has been replaced on the cabinet by Marianne Fellowes, who represents Aldeburgh and Aldringham-Cum-Thorpe.
Ray Herring, leader of the council, said he wished Mrs Green all the best.
“I am very grateful for the hard work of Cllr Green over the years, particularly in the fields of port health and wider health issues in general,” he said. “However, I decided to make this change in the best interests of the cabinet.
“Cllr Green will doubtless continue to be an effective ward councillor and I wish her well as she focuses her considerable energies in that direction.”