AN OXFORD MP has described a decision which might see planning powers taken from a council and given to another as a ‘dark day for democracy.’

Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, made the warning after Oxfordshire County Council’s vote in favour of taking over South Oxforshire’s local plan, if it is invited to by the government.

This was in preparation ahead of a decision by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick, who said he is ‘minded’ to hand the plan to OCC.

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Ms Moran said: “This is a dark day for local democracy. It would be a great shame if locally-elected councillors, voted in on a clear mandate by local people, found themselves overruled by a central government and councillors of a different party when it comes to local housing.”

Last month, Ms Moran was offered a meeting with Robert Jenrick and council leaders, though no date is set yet.

Meanwhile SODC’s opposition Conservative group has criticised Green and Lib Dem councillors for protesting outside county hall ahead of the crunch vote, as it almost left a meeting without enough councillors to go ahead.

Jane Murphy, leader of the Conservative Group on SODC said: “While Councillor Cooper and the majority of her Lib Dem/Green Cabinet were posing with banners at County Hall today trying to claim the democratic high ground, a paltry four Cabinet members convened at SODC to decide the district budget for next year."

“In a debate about local democracy I’m sure the vast majority of residents would consider it Cllr Coopers’s primary duty to decide how our taxes should be spent to deliver important public services.”

Ms Murphy added: “The Conservative Group on SODC continues to believe that the emerging Local Plan 2034 offers the best deal for the residents and businesses of South Oxfordshire as it seeks to provide - over the next 15 years - a controlled supply of affordable homes, work spaces, and other amenities connected by new rail, cycle, road and bridge links.”

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Following the county council’s decision, SODC leader Sue Cooper said: “I regret the decision made by the county council today, and would like to thank those who came to the meeting to support the principle of local democracy and decision-making. We wish to continue working constructively with the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government and Oxfordshire County Council to keep local plan making with South Oxfordshire.

“We would like to know more about the Secretary of State’s suggestion to propose changes to the plan through the examination process, with the aim of putting our plan at the forefront of the latest bold and far-reaching thinking on the climate emergency rather than being the last of the environmentally damaging plans.”

Ms Cooper said she wanted to discuss these changes in a face-to-face meeting with Mr Jenrick, as suggested in parliament by Ms Moran.