Statement to Droitwich Council on 28th January 2019

Mike Lambden made the following statement to Droitwich Spa Town Council:

How will Droitwich Spa Town Council implement the minuted decisions of June 11 2018 to work with the numerous volunteers to take forward the Neighbourhood Plan?


Good evening members, ladies and gentlemen and thank you for the opportunity to speak.

The Neighbourhood Plan Working Group volunteers have continued to meet to discuss the  Neighbourhood Plan and wish to express our support for it to progress. 

We have a major objection to the Town Council’s insistence that the Neighbourhood Plan work should stop as we consider this unjustified.

A significant number of people gave up their time (and in some cases money) to work on a Neighbourhood Plan over a period of 2 years – we’d even got as far as drafting an Issues and Options document that would have informed a first public consultation.

However, you decided to suspend all work without consultation with the group plus –

  • taking a vote about the future of the plan at a meeting when the two town councillors nominated by you to lead the process were unable to attend or have their say.
  • excluding the public from that part of the meeting.

After three consecutive Town Council meetings at which the Neighbourhood Plan was given support by those that spoke, the minutes of the June 11 meeting included an action to create a delegation group of councillors to work with the volunteers to progress the Neighbourhood Plan. This action has not been undertaken and no explanation has been given.

The Town Council have taken away the lawful rights of the people of Droitwich Spa, as given in the 2011 Localism Act, by denying residents a Neighbourhood Plan to control and direct development in our town.

Consequently, we will be at the mercy of developers looking to put forward whatever they want inside the town boundary, as well as leaving us without any Section 106[1] monies towards specific schemes that we could have identified in the Neighbourhood Plan and etched into policy. 

We are also limited in terms of the protection afforded to green space and brown field sites that are not allocated for housing in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP).

It’s easy to criticise when you aren’t directly involved in a process.  However, the Town Council have so far failed to provide the answers which residents deserve and expect:

  1. Why did the council determine at their September meeting that there was insufficient funding for a Neighbourhood Plan having failed to apply for grants after previously saying that the council would progress all the paperwork rather than accept available assistance from volunteers? Government grant funding was available as we all knew (and would have given access to other funding opportunities).
  2. Why do the council think a Town Plan has the same status as a Neighbourhood Plan?
    – The two are chalk and cheese. The existing Town Plan has had little impact and has no policy status, and a Neighbourhood Plan is part of the development plan, enjoying the same status as the SWDP!
  3. Why did the council agree terms with a consulting company to undertake work on the Neighbourhood Plan which effectively commits the Town Council to handing over taxpayer’s money even though the consultants may not have finished the work?
    – Why did they think that was a justifiable way to spend the resources we do have and why did they not question the consultant’s terms and conditions?
    – How much abortive taxpayer’s money have the Town Council spent so far?
    – Did the Town Council go through a competitive process when tendering the Neighbourhood Plan consultancy work?
    – If not, why not?
  4. Why did the Town Council say that Wychavon endorsed its view that the Neighbourhood Plan work should stop, when Wychavon have consistently supported the development of Neighbourhood Plans throughout the District?
  5. Why was the agreed website taken down in June without prior notice to the Group?
    – The website was necessary to attract other volunteers to help with the work.
    – Despite questions raised since, even a formal Freedom of Information request has only resulted in a response that ONE councillor decided that it was “inappropriate”. How did one councillor have this power?


We see no valid reason to suspend continuing development of the Neighbourhood Plan for what could be at least nine months.

We believe that if Droitwich Spa Town Council engages with the Neighbourhood Plan volunteers there is a great opportunity to generate social cohesion and leverage the diverse talents of Droitwich Spa residents to plan a better future for the town. The Group are ready to go now, rather than wait until later in the year, and more than willing to assist with the administrative processes.

When can we continue together?

How will Droitwich Spa Town Council implement the minuted decisions of June 11 2018 to work with the numerous volunteers to take forward the Neighbourhood Plan?