The leader of the council in Three Rivers says the authority needs to protect the Green Belt amid government pressure to build more homes.

Cllr Ann Shaw says the Liberal Democrat party will prioritise “tight financial control” and protecting services.

She remains confident the current administration will still be in charge after the election – despite losing overall control last year.

The government is encouraging more house building and fears are intensifying that national planning inspectors may overrule local decision makers on controversial schemes in the district to meet housing shortages.

Developers have appealed to the Secretary of State over Three Rivers District Council's rejection of a scheme which could see 48 flats built in Wharf Lane, Rickmansworth.

Cllr Shaw said: “One of the most important things is to resist the government overriding the local planning policies.

“Wharf Lane is a good example. Developers are being encouraged to put in more densely packed applications which disrupt the environment, from car parking to schools.

“And this is the same with the changes to allow commercial properties to be converted into residential properties and the effect that could have on the local economy.”

The Lib Dem group has come under fire for their handling of major projects, including the redevelopment of the William Penn Leisure Centre and the lack of social housing in the South Oxhey Initiative.

The redevelopment of the William Penn Leisure Centre was £4 million over budget and two years late, with auditors criticising the lack of “council oversight”.

And the Conservative group has questioned the Lib Dems' ability to control spending.

But Cllr Shaw said: “We are prioritising tight financial control and continuing to make savings in order to protect the services residents say they value.

“The other parties are always critical. When we put our budget forward, which we have consulted first, we say what we will do. What we do not do is say we will cut x amount and not say where.

“That is a threat to all services. We have a good financial record.”

The council leader insisted that the authority had made efficiency savings by restructuring the council management structure and sharing services with other councils.