Plans to expand Milton Keynes blasted as 'ill-informed and unacceptable' by Central Beds Council leader
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Conservative Central Bedfordshire Council leader James Jamieson criticised the unitary authority over a document outlining its desire for growth over the next 30 years.
The issue was raised by Independent Aspley and Woburn councillor John Baker at a CBC budget full council meeting.
“Milton Keynes Council is consulting on its MK Futures 2050 draft strategy,” said councillor Baker.
“The strategy looks across authority boundaries, to build closer working relationships in areas such as public transportation.
“Please can the leader outline if and how the council is engaging with this process?” he asked.
Councillor Jamieson replied: “We work hard to maintain good relationships with all our neighbouring authorities, and we work on many regional forums.
“There’s also the duty to cooperate on things such as public transport.
“But, on the development of Milton Keynes 2050 vision, we deeply regret Milton Keynes Council has not fully engaged with the likes of this council.
“Perhaps this isolationist approach was chosen because they rightly anticipate a robust challenge to their vision, which unilaterally proposes major housing developments in Central Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and South Northamptonshire.
“Such proposals are both ill-informed and unacceptable to us,” he warned.
“Quite apart from the factual inaccuracies inherent in the document, MK’s visionary plans seem to be just about about houses and warehouses.
“This is completely at odds with the economic and environmental led approach we would like to pursue.
“I am going to make no apologies that I will strongly resist any encroachment of Milton Keynes into Central Bedfordshire.
“A sentiment I know I share with councillors in Buckinghamshire and South Northamptonshire.
“While we have difficult decisions to make to meet the housing needs targets we are being given, we are clear such decisions need to be taken by us.
“Democratically elected authorities representing the areas in which the development is proposed,” he added.
“Not other councils or, worse still, unelected quangos or development corporations as has been suggested by the MK document.”
Councillor Baker said: “You talk about the fact you don’t feel we were consulted.
“Actually the officers at Milton Keynes have written to our officers and haven’t received a response.
“They wrote to me and neighbouring ward councillors. I had a chat with one of their officers and they’re awaiting our response to their consultation.
“You talk about this unilateral invasion of Central Bedfordshire in their housing locations.
“Yet they’re talking about housing locations in our Local Plan which presumably you support.
“The part we need to look at is their plans for public transport links from Milton Keynes to junction 13 to service the housing.
“Will you get the officers to engage and look carefully at the public transport elements which link Milton Keynes to where new housing growth has been proposed in Central Bedfordshire?” he asked.
Councillor Jamieson retorted: “Milton Keynes’ visionary plan includes double counting of housing in Central Bedfordshire.
“They are claiming the credit for that housing and, no doubt, associated funding.
“I am sorry. I don’t agree with that,” he said. “We have sought to cooperate and discuss things with Milton Keynes through forums.
“They have chosen not to do that. They are choosing to impose things and I don’t approve of that.
“I look forward to them reaching out properly, in a formal sense, as a planning document where they have a duty to cooperate and to engage with us.”