THE claims by Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron that Oxfordshire is identified in a Government report as a site for a huge new “garden city” have drawn plenty of interest.
Worryingly, there has not been a lot of definitive comment from the Government. Mr Farron’s statement may be wide of the mark, as he has not apparently seen this report, but it will cause considerable concern nonetheless.
It would appear logical that if the county had been earmarked for the potential of a new town, it could well be the mooted 25,000-home development near Steventon and that will lead to worry in that part of the county.
But that’s sort of the point: nobody really knows. As an Oxfordshire MP and the man at the very top of Government, David Cameron could end the speculation once and for all and tell us if Mr Farron was correct or, as county council leader Ian Hudspeth said, is just “scare mongering”.
But so far, there has been a deafening silence from the Witney MP.
His counterpart in Wantage, Ed Vaizey, may well be correct that any plan for a garden city would stand as much chance as the derided proposal for an airport at the same site but, by saying nothing substantive, the Government effectively feeds suspicion that there may indeed be a secret plan.
Planning to significantly change the face of Oxfordshire will be damaging enough for the Government, but any whiff of secrecy will make it far worse.