The Conservatives' election leaflet about the Liberal Democrats' position on the Leisure Centre, roads and pavements, and the Green Belt is selective and misleading
The Liberal Democrats have always supported a new Sports Centre in Epping. From the first meeting when the Conservatives revealed their plan to re-provide the Epping and Ongar Sports Centres in North Weald the Liberal Democrats have spoken against this.
The Leisure Centre was one of many items in the 2023 budget which the Liberal Democrats voted against but Cllr Jon Whitehouse said in his budget speech that the Liberal Democrats supported the provision of the new Leisure Centre and Liberal Democrats have consistently spoken in support of the replacement sports centre at Cabinet and council meetings.
Highways are a county responsibility so the district Liberal Democrat councillors have had nothing to do with voting against extra money for roads and pavements. Liberal Democrat councillors consistently report potholes, pavement defects, broken streetlights and other highways problems but the backlog of repairs is growing as the Conservative-controlled county council fails to maintain the network fully. Short-term injections of cash to mend a few potholes at election time are no substitute for a proper planned programme of maintenance and repairs that are done properly the first time round.
The Liberal Democrats have raised many concerns about the Local Plan. They voted against it in March 2023 because the proposed modifications did not fix the many flaws in the plan. These include inadequate measures to deliver the infrastructure and local services needed to support new development.
As part of the Local Plan the Conservatives reviewed the Green Belt boundaries which enabled previous Green Belt land to become available for development. This includes the previously Green Belt South Epping site. Liberal Democrat councillors with residents campaigned against the 900 properties proposed for this site which the planning inspector reduced to 450.
The Conservative plan now being implemented will lead to thousands more houses being built on former Green Belt land around Harlow, Waltham Abbey, North Weald, Thornwood and Epping but there are no clear plans to improve local transport and services to meet the extra demand.