08:00AM, Friday 03 March 2017
Cllr Simon Dudley
The appointment of the Royal Borough leader to a government agency which funds the building of new houses is not a conflict of interests, he insists.
Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Bray) was made a director at the Homes and Communities Agency for a three-year term on Tuesday, February 21, along with three others.
The body funds the building of new affordable homes and also increases the supply of public land, speeding up the rate that it can be built on.
Earlier this year, the council leader came under fire for allowing the development of greenbelt land in the draft borough local plan.
Concerns have been raised that his appointment will see more willingness to build on greenbelt land.
A Freedom of Information request by Patrick Griffin, the chairman of SPAE (Society for the Protection of Ascot Environs) revealed that 86 per cent of land allocated for possible development under the local plan was in the greenbelt.
In January, Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) was sacked as chairman of the council’s planning panel after raising concerns about the amount of building.
Patrick, who is also in the Berkshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), is concerned building on greenbelt is ‘the easy way out’.
He said the role of the Homes and Communities Agency is about increasing the supply and scale of housing development.
He added: “This is worrying as our real concern here in RBWM is the scale of development proposed, particularly in greenbelt.”
Cllr Dudley is also the borough’s lead member for housing and has worked as executive director of Global Capital Markets at Arcapita Ltd and managing director at Citigroup Global Markets Ltd.
This week he sought to assure residents there was no conflict of interest in his new role and positions in the Royal Borough, adding that working less now means he 'spends more time on politics'.
“I’ve had a career in finance so I think I have potential to bring a lot [to the role] with my experience," he said.
“We have got a housing crisis locally and nationally but I think everyone wants to protect the greenbelt.
“Everything will be done to try and minimise the use of building on greenbelt land in the borough but there will have to be some use of the greenbelt.
“There is no conflict here, we need to pull together to create an environment where people who want to own a home have that opportunity.”
Cllr Dudley said he will receive a director's allowance which he understands will be between £10-20,000.
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