Conservative opposition councillors wrote to the leader of West Oxfordshire District Council calling for the executive member for planning to be stripped of his position. 

The letter jointly written and signed by Conservative Group Leader Cllr Michele Mead and Deputy Group Leader Cllr Liam Walker raised "concerns" about Charlie Maynard, who is also the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Witney

Also posted on X/Twitter by Witney Conservatives, it said: "We are deeply concerned that whilst he is doing this, he will not be fulfilling his important duty as the executive member for planning and sustainable development.

"The district council has important work this week with another housing appeal taking place for a development in North Leigh where we would hope that the executive member responsible for planning will be attending."

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It went on: "We are also deeply concerned about a campaign video where Cllr Maynard suggests that housing for the Witney North site should be deallocated and moved to near the village of Ducklington.

"Given there is a outline planning application for the Witney North site with the district council this is clearly Cllr Maynard using his role as executive member to campaign for housing at other locations without any plan or consultation with the community." 

The letter calls for Mr Maynard to be removed from his role as the executive member for planning and sustainable development during the General Election campaign.

"We cannot allow the campaign activity of one individual to undermine the district council's position on housing and planning at such a crucial time and the actions of Cllr Maynard if he remains in post would be damaging to the council," it read.

The council is currently working on the Local Plan 2041, which guides decisions on future development proposals for the next 17 years.

Mr Walker said that after the letter was sent the WODC website was updated to show that the Lib Dem leader of the council Andy Graham has taken on the responsibility of planning. 

Mr Maynard responded that he voluntarily stepped down from his planning portfolio role during the regulated election period and was not 'removed'.

Andy Graham, the leader of WODC, has stepped in to oversee his portfolio during this election period, he said.

And he was unapologetic about campaigning against the Witney North development "on account of its dire transport and flooding issues".

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He said: "The district’s 2018 Local Plan states four times that it is essential that the Witney North site should only be developed with a second crossing over the Windrush being built, also known as the West End Link.

"The current Witney North application excludes any new link over the Windrush.

"It is not my decision whether the site should be deallocated or not. However, I think it is pretty clear that if the applicant is no longer willing to meet the original conditions set out in the Local Plan then I believe that site deallocation is a sensible option.

"Why don't the Conservatives think the site should be deallocated, if it does not include a second crossing over the Windrush, given the explicit commitments made in the Local Plan?”

A spokesperson for West Oxfordshire District Council said: "I can confirm that Cllr Maynard stood down from the Executive voluntarily on May 22 2024 and Cllr Graham is covering his portfolio."