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New cabinet member for planning wants to restore confidence in council

Restoring confidence and repairing fractured relationships between the council and neighbourhood groups over the Borough Local Plan (BLP) is one of the key priorities for the new cabinet member for planning.

A reshuffled cabinet was announced by Royal Borough council leader Simon Dudley on Monday, and big changes include Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray) replacing Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) as cabinet member for planning and Cllr Stuart Carroll becoming the cabinet member for adult services, public health and communications.

Speaking about his new role, Cllr Coppinger said: “I have been the chairman of a parish council and I was the first chairman of Bray Neighbourhood Planning group so I understand where they are coming from.

“I’m seeking to meet with as many people and as many groups as quickly as possible to understand their views better. I’m not changing where we are, we have a deadline of March for the BLP before it gets taken off us, but I want to understand where people are coming from and help relationships moving forward.”

He said he also wants to deliver the infrastructure plan to work out ‘exactly what we need’ when the BLP, which unites development policy for housing and sets a target of building more than 13,000 homes across the Royal Borough by 2032, is approved.

When asked what experience he had for the role he said: “I’m not an expert and never wish to be. There are officers who are experts and I am there to represent the residents. I put residents first and that’s my driver. Our experts do a superb job already and I don’t want to do their job for them, my style will be different to Derek’s but everyone is different and when you do a reshuffle you put different views in.”

Cllr Coppinger will also be cabinet member for health as he is at a ‘critical stage’ of developing the sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) with Frimley Health, the trust which runs Wexham Park and Heatherwood hospitals.

Cllr Wilson, who had been the cabinet member for planning since 2014, said he was disappointed to be leaving the role. He will now become the chairman of the Maidenhead Development Management Panel, replacing Cllr David Burbage (Con, Bray).

Cllr Wilson said: “Obviously I’m a little disappointed not being able to see the BLP through to examination because we are so close. It’s been a lot of work over the years, but I wish David every success.”

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