It’s not just the little people who are routinely subjugated by our supposedly democratic Government. It seems district councils have been welcomed into the club, with Ashfield District Council being the latest inductee.
The Council has been battling with a group of travellers who moved in and set up their caravans on land next to a pub in Huthwaite in May 2022, which the Council claimed was unlawful. Arram Price submitted a planning application in January 2023 but was swiftly rejected by the Council’s planning committee, who believed the plan would negatively impact the openness of the countryside.
This is an example of a council duly performing its duties, which can often feel like a rare feat in today’s political climate. They are prioritising the aesthetics and the environmental well-being of their town whilst upholding the wishes of their constituents, who, almost certainly, will be opposed to the arrival of the travellers.
However, the fly in the ointment is that travellers are legally recognised as a protected group. This gives the Tory government’s Planning Inspectorate the perfect excuse to override the will of the people, as they so often do, and override the Council’s decision, which is exactly what they have done.
Jason Zadrozny, leader of Ashfield District Council, said of the overruling: “I am appalled that the Tory Government has overturned our decision to stop the traveller camp on Chesterfield Road, Huthwaite.”
“The Council have said no, this is not appropriate for the area, but the Conservative Government has disagreed. This is another decision that will really impact Huthwaite, and it is disgraceful that the Government can step in and give permission that flies in the face of both residents and councillors’ opposition.”
He’s absolutely right. It shows just how undemocratic our political system has become and how unrepresented the average citizen is. When the Government can poke its nose into any local issue and play dictator, it brings into question the relevance of district and parish councils.
Creating protected characteristics may have seemed like a good idea at first, but those in power can misuse it. When the Government labels certain groups as victims, it can use their struggles to gain more control and influence.
Ashfield District Council is now considering its options and exploring all the legal options to force the Conservative Government to review this decision, and for that, they should be commended.
If only our councils fought as vigorously when it came to migrant hotels…