Cllr Richard Kemp, the Leader of Liverpool's Liberal Democrats, has written to the Head of the Paid Service of Liverpool Council demanding immediate action to recruit a City Planning Officer after the post has been left unfilled for 18 months. The move comes days after the Government announced that Liverpool, along with just 14 other councils, would face intervention because of the Council's failure to produce a Local Development Framework which is now 6 years overdue.
In his email to Catherine Garnell, Cllr Kemp makes clear the scale of the problem, "This document should have been produced in 2011 and indeed we were on track as a council to meet this deadline. Instead, the date has been pushed further and further back. This has already had effects on our land allocation and building development. When we have tried to resist things in the planning committee we have been told that we cannot because we are relying on a document that was effectively completed in 2001. Much has changed since then".
"I believe that there is a hidden agenda here", Cllr Kemp continues, "I believe that Mayor Anderson wants the Tory Government to decide land use policy in the City because at the end of the day the Labour administration in Liverpool is delivering Tory housing policy. From the partnership with Redrow to complicity in the sale of dodgy developments to investors throughout the World; from shoddily built student accommodation to the building of yet more flats on land zoned for industry and commerce Joe Anderson has been doing what the Tories want. Wouldn't it be easier for him politically if he could blame the Government for doing what he wants to do all along?"
This is the full message to the Head of the Paid Service in Liverpool:
Deputy Chief Executive & Head of the Paid Service,
Liverpool City Council
I am extremely saddened to hear that the Government are to intervene in Liverpool because of our abject failure to produce a Local Development Framework (LDF).
The LDF is a vital council document as it controls the land supply for Liverpool and ensures that there is a proper mix of land allocation for housing; commerce; industry and public sector operations such as schools and hospitals.
This document should have been produced in 2011 and indeed we were on track as a council to meet this deadline. Instead, the date has been pushed further and further back. This has already had effects on our land allocation and building development. When we have tried to resist things in the planning committee we have been told that we cannot because we are relying on a document that was effectively completed in 2001. Much has changed since then.
The purpose of writing to you is simply to demand that you, as Head of the Paid Service and Deputy Chief Executive take immediate steps to begin the process of recruiting a City Planning Officer. Not only is our LDF delayed but there is clearly a lack of leadership in planning which detracts from so much valiant effort by most of our planning staff.
Unless we act the Conservative Government will decide what the planning polices for Liverpool are. That is not good enough. A city with all the developments that are going or at least talked about, needs a fully functioning planning department.
I would be grateful if you would let me know as a matter of urgency what You and the Council intend to do to recruit a high calibre Chief Planning Officer and get our planning strategy back on track.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE