Minister accused of doing “favour” for MP over Bradford housing plan

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey
Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey
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A GOVERNMENT minister has been accused of blocking Bradford Council’s housing plans as a “favour” to Shipley MP Philip Davies.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey criticised Housing Minister Gavin Barwell for intervening to prevent Bradford Council adopting its local plan.

Mr Barwell’s intervention followed complaints from Shipley MP Philip Davies that the proposals would have a major impact on the district’s green belt.

But Mr Healey has claimed there is no justification for the Mr Barwell’s intervention and called on Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid to justify his minister’s actions.

In a letter to Mr Javid, Mr Healey wrote: “This week, the Housing Minister in your Department wrote to Bradford Council directing them to halt the adoption of their development plan which would build more homes for the people of Bradford. “Despite all stages of consultation and approval – from local people, council and Planning Inspector – being completed, this action stops the plan’s adoption in its tracks.

“According to the Housing Minister this decision was taken merely because a fellow Conservative MP wrote in complaint. There is no attempt by the Minister to defend the substance of the complaint. Without justification, his decision to intervene smacks of a political ‘mate’s favour’.

“Given this lack of justification for your Department stopping a plan which has been nine years in the making, and involved extensive consultation with local people, I am writing to ask you to account for this decision.”

Mr Healey, the Wentworth and Dearne MP, said: “Your decision seems particularly extraordinary when on the very same day as the letter was sent, you spoke at some length in the second reading debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill about both the importance of building more homes and of local democracy.

“Your Minister’s letter has overridden both without proper justification.”

Mr Davies said: “This complaint from the Labour Party shows they have no concern for my constituents and the Green Belt around the constituency. There is a significant amount of brownfield sites that Bradford Council seems to want to ignore and not build on, instead giving the go-ahead to massive developments in my constituency.

“My constituents now know that the Labour Party locally and the Labour Party nationally do not care about their interests and are happy to see huge swathes of green belt concreted over against the wishes of local residents.

“I hope people in the Shipley constituency remember the contempt the Labour Party holds for them at future elections.”