A week after the Liberal Democrats confirmed their opposition to the overall eco-town policy at their conference, ministers will be hoping that the dispute will not threaten the whole Weston Otmoor, 15,000-home project.
Downing Street’s eco-town drive, which aims to have five new towns built by 2016 and 10 by 2020, has sparked protests outside parliament and seen a handful of councils withdraw support for their own proposals, including Manby in Lincolnshire and Curborough in Staffordshire.
In the latest blow, Oxfordshire CC has refused to do any more work on what it describes as a “fairytale” proposal until developer Parkridge pays a bill that the council claims comes to more than £100,000.
The council has analysed the transport implications of the new town and the effect on the current road network including the A34 and M40, and has costed the work at £100,000.
Keith Mitchell, the leader of the county council, demanded the cash and went on to accuse Parkridge of constantly changing its plans.
“As one set of pie-in-the-sky fairytale plans is shown to be a superficial sham, another appears – and proves to be equally appalling,” he said.
He added Parkridge had promised to pay the council’s consultants’ costs and that he was “stunned to hear that they have gone back on it”.
Parkridge told Construction News it was “very, very disappointed” that the council had gone straight to the media over the issue and claimed it had yet to receive an invoice for £100,000.
Director Roger Sporle said the company has only received one invoice, for £7,860. He added that “it has not been passed for payment because the council has refused to provide information on how the sums have been calculated”.
“This is sound corporate governance as no public or private organisation should pay bills when it does not know how it has been made up.”