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Lib Dems defeat government in planning bill - Hamwee

January 20, 2004 12:00 AM

The Liberal Democrats have defeated the Government in a crucial vote at Committee stage of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill.

The votes were cast 158 to 137 in favour of a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Bill that will allow county councils to continue making strategic planning decisions. Unamended, the Bill would have given those powers to unelected and partially elected bodies.

Baroness Sally Hamwee, Liberal Democrat local government spokesperson, said:

"This is a real victory for local democracy. Without our amendment, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill would have removed a whole layer of elected people from the planning process.

"The Government says it is committed to devolution, but this Bill tried to put convenience before democracy.

"This defeat sends a powerful message. Major decisions on housing numbers and transport infrastructure must be taken by elected bodies that have the interests of the whole community at heart."