Lib Dem Cllr: ‘My Fears for the Green Belt’

Councillor for West End South opposes Local Plan - In Oxfordshire. ADD: 'Double Standards and muddled thinking'

The newly elected councillor for West End South has told how he became ‘a little hot under the collar’ when heard of plans to ‘pave over vast swathes of the green belt’ in Oxfordshire.

Liberal Democrat Tim Bearder who is both a West End Parish Councillor and a Borough Councillor for West End South also sits as an County Councillor in Oxfordshire where he is opposed to South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan.

In an article published in the Oxford Times last month Councillor Bearder warned that South Oxfordshire’s Local Plan would result in a ‘catastrophic level of construction.”

But local campaigners here have accused him of “double standards” in supporting Eastleigh’s Local Plan while at the same time opposing the Local Plan in his home county.

In a statement Cllr Bearder, a former BBC Radio Oxford presenter, told Eastleigh News that his views are “entirely consistent.”

“I am dedicated to protecting the green spaces between our towns and villages everywhere in the south east and campaigning for cleaner, greener affordable houses in the right places.”

Councillor Bearder described the situation in Oxfordshire as “radically different from the situation in Eastleigh.”

The councillor explained that local councils in Oxfordshire were pushing ahead with plans that would double the number of houses in the county by building over protected green spaces.

He went on to contrast the Local Plan in Oxfordshire with the one in Eastleigh which, he says, proposes building “a sensible number of homes commensurate with the scale of projected need’ Cllr Bearder also praised EBC for their ‘innovative’ approach to housing development.

“The council has just been awarded £20.8 million for our Horton Heath project. Homes England, the Government’s housing accelerator, will announce the funding next week to unlock the development of a 310-acre site in Horton Heath, where 35 per cent of the new homes will be affordable”

Cllr Bearder added:

“If the local electorate saw the scandalous way Oxfordshire was being run by the Conservatives they’d thank their lucky stars they had Eastleigh Borough Council on their side.”

A spokesperson for local residents group Action Against Destructive (ADD) responded to the Councillors article by saying:

This is yet another example of double standards and muddled thinking by the small number of people who still support the draft Eastleigh local plan. Cllr Bearder’s description of Oxfordshire’s proposed development as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘far in excess of the government’s own predicted [housing] need’ applies precisely to Options B and C of Eastleigh’s plan. Not only that, but Eastleigh’s scheme would permanently damage several areas of ancient woodland, pollute the River Itchen and maximise CO2 levels.

Cllr Bearder really can’t have it both ways.”