William Eichler 04 April 2018

Leader denies decision to step down related to local plan defeat

The leader of South Oxfordshire District Council has denied his decision to step down before the local elections is related to the postponement of the authority’s local plan.

Cllr John Cotton has announced he will not be submitting his name for the upcoming Conservative Group elections which means he will be stepping down from his post as council leader.

There has been speculation that Cllr Cotton’s decision was prompted by the defeat of the council’s local plan in its current form. However, he denies this describing the timing as ‘somewhat coincidental’.

‘I'll have been a councillor for 20 years by the May 2019 elections,’ he told LocalGov.

‘As such, I'm not certain to stand and so it makes sense to give the new leader a good run-up ahead of those.’

Despite this, however, Cllr Cotton did say that several members of the council had got ‘cold feet’ when it came to supporting the local plan.

He said they were put off by the scale of the development proposed, which is 50% more than is recommended by Government guidelines, as well as by the strategic sites set out, which include a Green Belt plot and one owned by Homes England.

It will come back to council in a few weeks for a final decision.

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