Need not Greed Oxfordshire has written to all local authority officers representated on the SEP Steering Group, expressing our concern that there are serious discrepancies between local authority responses to the consultation on the SEP Refresh and the OxLEP summary of responses.
Recent NNGO research, which compares local authority responses with the summary provided in the OxLEP Report on Responses, reveals that the reservations raised by local authorities in their responses on the SEP Refresh have not been fully reflected in OxLEP’s summary.
We believe the OxLEP Report which summarises comments from local authorities, is not reflective of the detailed and often critical responses provided by local authorities. Indeed, we maintain that the OxLEP Report glosses over the many real concerns that local authorities have raised about the SEP refresh.
A closer scrutiny of the responses made by local authorities reveals that important aspects of their responses were not emphasised in the OxLEP Report, including:
- An inappropriate focus on the knowledge spine, both spatially and by sector;
- The challenge for local authorities in meeting the SHMA targets;
- The challenge of sustaining the current level of growth across a full economic cycle;
- The challenges of providing affordable housing;
- The challenges of addressing pressures on infrastructure; and
- The need for mitigating adverse impact on the environment.
Need not Greed Oxfordshire is concerned that while the Report on Responses acknowledges the overwhelming number of responses to the consultation which raised grave reservations in the LEP pursuing a forced growth agenda, to the detriment of the local population and environment, there will not be a re-think of the growth agenda in the final SEP.
Given that local authority participation in the consultation is, in effect, the only democratically accountable input into the SEP refresh, we have called on local authority officers to have a role in continuing to challenge the LEP’s underlying growth agenda over the coming weeks as the final SEP is drafted.
As the officers representing our local authorities on the LEP Refresh Steering Group, we are seeking their active participation to ensure the reservations raised collectively by our local authorities, and those of the public, are fully represented in the final document.