CONSERVATIVE councillors have criticised South Lakeland District Council’s Council Plan, brandishing it a ‘Lib Dem manifesto’.

The plan outlines the council’s priorities and targets for 2014-2019, which include housing, the economy, the environment and culture and wellbeing.

However, Ben Berry, leader of the Tories, dubbed it the ‘Lib Dem manifesto’ and told a full meeting of SLDC: “There are obviously many things out there that are admirable and that we would support. But if given the chance next year I would like the chance to rewrite this document, changing the priorities.”

Cllr James Airey agreed the Conservatives would put the economy above housing.

“It is your document and your administration but we’re not about to support it,” he said.

However, deputy leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder Cllr Jonathan Brook (Lib Dem) said that anyone who read the document would note that SLDC was an ‘ambitious council’. “Not only are we ambitious but we are delivering significantly on the promises that we have made,” he said. “Particularly on housing and the economy and these go hand in glove.”

Council leader Giles Archibald said he was ‘enormously proud’ of the council plan and he hoped that the Conservatives had felt part of it.

Cllr Stan Collins (Lib Dem) said that his main criticism of the plan was of the economy section, which he said had a ‘hole’ in it. “That hole is called Brexit,” he said. “No-one has any idea what’s going to happen but at least we could be preparing businesses, particularly small and medium sized businesses, to enable them to know where the information is so that they can adapt to whatever emerges.”

However, Cllr Graham Vincent said that while Brexit had not been specifically put in the strategy, there was engagement work being undertaken.

“There are discussions with our principle customers,” he said.

“We have been talking with the banking area about business resilience and the banks feel businesses are geared up.”

The recommendation to adopt the updated plan as part of the Council’s Policy Framework was approved, with 27 voting for and nine against.