Tendring UKIP Claim Planning Department Using Under the Table Housing Numbers to Gerrymander Con Cllrs

Tendring Guardian

TENDRING Council has been reported to police over potential “gerrymandering.”

The accusation is that using the same figures from its planning department, the council aims to artificially boost the number of Conservative councillors.

Yet, the council has also approved hundreds of more homes than is needed saying it does not have a five year housing supply, when it is claimed it does.

A report to the Action Fraud department of the City of London police was submitted last week by senior UKIP councillor Richard Everett.

Mr Everett is leader of the UKIP Group on planning at Tendring Council and also a member of a working party that is reviewing electoral boundaries.

The Rush Green councillor said based on figures he has received from council planning staff, wards which are typically held by Conservative councillors are to receive “a significant boost from the figures.”

The government Boundary Commission is looking to slash the number of Tendring councillors from 60 to 48, redrawing boundaries in the process.

Mr Everett said: “I am shocked that such dodgy figure work can result in shoring up Conservative council wards, while other parties will be scrambling over a shrinking number of seats,” he said.

The “discrepancies” arose from the figures supplied from Tendring Council’s Electoral Review Working Group and those used by planning in recent weeks.

“Both sets of figures are produced from the Planning Department using the ‘same’ data,” he said.

Last week, Mr Everett met with council officials, including chief executive Ian Davidson and head of planning Cath Bicknell about his concerns.

“They could not explain the disparity,” he said.

In addition to potential “gerrymandering,” it means Tendring Council cannot resist speculative development in places like Kirby Cross, Great Bentley and Weeley.

“I have found that according to the council’s own electoral review figures that it can show that Tendring has a six year housing supply, so it can prevent inappropriate development,” he said.

Mr Everett said: “This alleged incompetence of the planning department has allowed this situation to happen. It seems to me that officers are playing fast and loose with information.”

“As a councillor, I take my role of scrutiny very seriously. If the council won’t investigate it is incumbent on me to report it to police. At the moment the evidence is circumstantial but I think it should be investigated by the police to see if there is anything,” he added.

The City of London Police has confirmed it has received Mr Everett’s dossier but said it would take a week for to decide whether or not to investigate.

Tendring Council said it refutes the allegation against its officers and councillors.

Spokesman Nigel Brown commented: “We also want to reassure our residents and businesses that these allegations have no implications for the Local Plan as our five year housing supply will be finalised and published before the document is submitted to the Government Inspector,” he added.

“Two barristers who are representing the council at a public inquiry have given strong advice that the council does not claim to have a five year housing supply.

“We have also double checked with the Local Government Boundary Commission and our Electoral Review will be going ahead on the basis of the figures already submitted.”

Mr Brown added that should The City of London Police decide to investigate Coun Everett’s allegations Tendring Council will co-operate fully in any and every way it can.

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