Blakelands affair in Milton Keynes boils over into personal political row

A residents’ battle to ‘get to the truth’ over how a controversial warehouse was allowed to double in height has boiled over into a personal political row.
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The Conservative leader at Milton Keynes Council, Alex Walker, has written to the leader of the Labour-run council, Pete Marland, demanding that he provides an “urgent statement” at a meeting this evening (Tuesday).

Blakelands residents, in a petition, say they have lost confidence in a review that is due to be finalised this month. Tory leader Cllr Walker (Stantonbury) has joined them.

“The Dorfman report has lost almost all of its credibility due to the severe delay and alleged officer interference,” said Cllr Walker.

The Blakelands warehouseThe Blakelands warehouse
The Blakelands warehouse

“Regardless of the outcome of the allegation, it is clear that the value of the

independent investigation has been severely damaged.

“The idea the exercise will reinstate public confidence in our planning department has evaporated.”

He accuses Cllr Marland of a lack of leadership.

Tory opposition leader Alex WalkerTory opposition leader Alex Walker
Tory opposition leader Alex Walker

“The council under your leadership is failing,” he says.

“There is an endless list of planning failures that have occurred since and prior to Blakelands that show a failing function within the council you lead. Yet, you have been silent.”

But Cllr Marland has in turn accused the Tory leader of perusing a “narrow political agenda” and headline seeking which risks undermining report being compiled by planning consultant Marc Dorfman at a cost of £20,000.

Cllr Marland (Wolverton) says he won’t be making a statement today and sees the Tory leader’s intervention as undermining the report, which is yet to be published.

Labour and council leader Pete MarlandLabour and council leader Pete Marland
Labour and council leader Pete Marland

In his reply to his opponent, Cllr Marland thanked Cllr Walker for his “somewhat disappointing letter.”

He hits back by accusing Cllr Walker of taking “hugely regrettable” action which risks undermining the report and questions his opponent’s “very poor judgement.”

Cllr Marland adds however that he shares Cllr Walker’s concerns about investigating all the issues and he takes them “very seriously”.

“I fully sympathise with the residents who have waited too long for those findings to be published and their desire to understand what happened,” he says.

But Cllr Marland does not believe the long delay in the report’s publication means it will negate the validity of findings.

Indeed he adds that the delay “could indicate the thoroughness of his investigation to leave no stone unturned.”

He adds: ” I do not believe there is anything to be gained at this stage to undermining the independent report which is now due.

Cllr Marland signs off by attacking Cllr Walker for sending his letter to the media and for following a “narrow political agenda”.