Ahead of the planning meeting at 6pm on the 14th October 2021, key figures in the local Labour Party have released public statements on social media in regards to the ongoing controversy about the Cowley hill stables site. The meeting will see the twice deferred and recently visited Griggs homes proposal on the Cowley Hill/Shenley border formally debated. In an uploaded digital letter from Hertsmere Labour Councillors page today, the group comprised of five Borehamwood representatives and two Potters Bar representatives said the following: “The Labour Group shares the deep concerns expressed by many local residents that the substance of the recommendation to approve this application is flawed. The Labour Group also believes that there are serious questions to be asked of Conservative members of the Committee who have declared receipt of funds from the Hertsmere Conservative Association which has, in turn, received money that originated from the applicants – Griggs Homes. At the very least this raises questions of ‘Apparent Bias’. We call upon those members to recuse themselves from this determination. We also want to express our full solidarity with Conservative Councillor Glenn Briski who has, in effect, been bullied out of participating in this decision and has not received proper support from his fellow Conservative Group members. It’s time for the Council to show that it listens to local people. Not just developers who fund the Tory party.”
As residents began to digest this damning statement, an independent and seperate post has also surfaced on social media by Cllr Gray, on behalf of himself and Cllr Newmark- both of whom are opposition members on the planning committee. They said the following: “We take our legal duties as members of the Planning Committee extremely seriously. We have carefully considered unsolicited ‘advice’ from the applicant’s solicitors and the Council’s Legal Services team pressuring us to withdraw from determining this application. We will not allow convoluted legal arguments, based largely upon incorrect assumptions, to intimidate us. We will do our civic duty that we were elected for. We will participate fully in this decision. We both reaffirm that we approach this matter with open minds and are committed to voting on this item based upon material planning concerns and any other relevant planning matters that emerge during the debate. We thank our Party colleagues in the Labour Group for understanding our constraints and for consistently rejecting the notion that a Party Whip might be applied to planning decisions.”
In what is bound to be a technical but impassioned debate, residents await eagerly for proceedings to kick off this Thursday. In the case of such an emotive site that has deep connections to people in the local community, it is anticipated that this may be the most well attending planning meeting yet. Residents can access the meeting both in person at the civic offices and alternatively online using the Hertsmere Borough council website which webcasts meetings.