War of words flares up in Lanner affordable housing row
A blistering attack by a senior Cornwall councillor over a legal bid to block 25 affordable homes was "emotive" and "unnecessary", a parish council has said.
Councillor Mark Kaczmarek, Cornwall Council's cabinet member for housing and planning, penned an astonishing letter to Lanner Parish Council after it lost its action to prevent the houses being built in the community.
In a bruising, four-page letter Councillor Kaczmarek, who lives in the village, accused the parish of wasting tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money.
He said the parish council had been "ignorant" or had "disregarded" the duty of Cornwall Council to provide housing, and denied people new affordable homes.
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Mr Kaczmarek also claimed the parish had damaged its own reputation and "let down the very people it should have been supporting".
Lanner Parish Council, which had argued that the scheme on the outskirts of the village broke housing and countryside protection policies, has now replied in its own eight-page, detailed letter.
They described Mr Kaczmarek's letter as a "long list of issues and accusations" which it was "not inclined to let pass unanswered".
It said: "Your letter is punctuated with emotive remarks that present issues as being either black or white. The assertion that this council let down those it exists to serve is another example of this.
"Something that your protestations lack, but that this council grapples with, is the notion of 'balance'."
The parish councillors went on: "Your contention that this council has 'obstructed the will of Cornwall Council to facilitate the provision of affordable housing' is interesting for a variety of reasons.
"Implicit in the assertion is that the 'will' of Cornwall Council should prevail without being questioned and without being challenged.
"Arguably, it is views of this sort that do most to erode local democracy and the faith that residents throughout the county might have in it."
The letter concluded: "The parish council regrets the hostility displayed in your letter – it is unnecessary and does little to advance political discourse within this parish and the county.
"Neither does it reflect well on you, your office or, insofar as you consulted others, Cornwall Council.
"Similarly, it is regrettable that you should have provided the media with a copy of your letter before the parish council had the opportunity to consider its content.
"The support or otherwise which this council's members have within the community will, of course, be fully tested in the forthcoming elections – as will the support or otherwise for yourself and your colleagues."
The war of words broke out after the parish council's case was lost in the High Court last month.
It had argued that under local policy only "about 12" affordable homes would be allowed on an "exceptional" rural site. However Judge Anthony Thornton QC ruled the limit on the number of homes was not set in stone.