Council Bosses Condemned for Making Major City Decision in Secret
The Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party has today accused the new Labour administration in Newcastle of paying lip service to democracy after a key decision was taken behind closed doors.
The joint Newcastle and Gateshead development strategy was discussed in a Cabinet meeting open to the public in Gateshead while in Newcastle it was approved for consultation in secret.
The local press have reported that the core strategy includes plans to build 36,000 houses in Newcastle and Gateshead over the next 20 years, yet this plan is not being made available to people in Newcastle until 4 October and residents will have just six weeks to respond.
Jason Smith, Leader of Newcastle First (pictured), said: “They talk about community engagement, they talk about openness and they say Let’s Talk Newcastle. Yet, when it comes to the crunch, they have shown that they are less open and less interested in the views of residents than neighbouring Gateshead.
“The core strategy is one of the most important documents the council will produce for the next few years yet the decision to agree it in secret and the short public consultation would indicate the opposite.
“The Labour Cabinet in Newcastle dedicated a whole meeting to a single issue but failed to discuss a plan to build 36,000 houses, some of which are likely to be very controversial with local people. However, local residents are being kept in the dark by the council for two weeks after plans were revealed to the press, which is frankly disgraceful.
“It is clear that the Let’s Talk Newcastle initiative is just a gimmick that hopes to hide the Labour Party’s lack of interest in listening to the views of local people.”
Jason Smith also believes the plan will be unpopular when residents of Newcastle understand the full implications. Jason added: “The Labour and Lib Dem plan for large scale development in the Outer West of the city will have huge implications for services in the area and there is also a renewed commitment to the controversial West Road scheme. While changing the face of some communities through hyperactive house building, the two councils expect to lose 4,900 homes through demolition, change of use and conversion.
“According to information available to residents of Gateshead, there are plans to build as many as 8,200 new houses in the Outer West of Newcastle including 500 in Lemington, 900 homes in Newburn, Walbottle and Throckley, and 300 houses in Newbiggin Hall as well as up to 6,500 in the Callerton Park development spanning North Walbottle, St Johns and Callerton. It is clear that the additional housing together with the West Road plans are likely to cause traffic misery for residents of Lemington, Westerhope and other areas in the west of the city.