Shepway District Council – A new brand of Democracy?

Ask anyone which way they vote and they will usually tell you. But, for the most part, the answer they give would be one without reason or logic.

Our electoral system leaves much to be desired in terms of proportional representation but leaving that to one side, confusion seems to reign between a General and District election; conflating the two is a mistake that many make and can generally benefit the candidates that stand as party members attracting the default vote. Step in: Shepway District Council.

Historically, Shepway has been, and still is, a Conservative area. Based on national policies, everyone has the right to choose their own areas representative in terms of political party at General level, and rightly so. The only conundrum that we all have is balancing the qualities of a local MP against that of towing the party line on national issues. An example of this was personified by Michael Howard, who was an excellent local MP, but left the electorate, other than staunch Conservative voters, in a quandary when voting in a General election.

But are the local electorate missing a trick when it comes to voting in a District election with a population of 108,000 people, against circa 67,000,000 in a General election? Moreover, the policies of the local District Council, in this case, Shepway, will impact lives much closer to home, and depending on the Leader, CEO and Cabinet members, this could be a disaster for many Residents if their views or wishes are totally disregarded. Ring any bells?

For the moment, let’s look at the Lorry Park situation: Here we had our MP, Damian Collins, calling for 250 acres to be concreted over to build a pointless Lorry Park, supported by District Councillors Monk, Hollingsbee and Carey, followed by many other cabinet members – all Conservatives: Tribes people, Apparatchiks. Here they be below.

collins fat faceMonk devious lookHollingsbee laughing48fb5-image-765230

We now have the misfortune of ending up with the above, alongside their chums. This is the result of voting ‘Tribal’ as opposed to recognising the merits of individuals. These individuals have simply jumped on board the default vote to secure power as career politicians, feathering their nests. Had these individuals stood as ‘independent’ candidates their faces wouldn’t be featured here. In fact, we would suggest that as politicians, representing electorate’s views, they wouldn’t be seen anywhere.  So could we be accused of being unfair if we described these individuals as a waste of space or devious?

Getting back to the Lorry Park, we were told it’s useless to fight it, it’s going ahead. A political knee jerk reaction which has already been detailed on our website. If we had a District Council that represented Residents views, and also had a modicum of Highways logistical knowledge, they would have supported the views of local people. It’s called doing the right thing. Evidence, as if evidence was needed, that we are ruled by our inferiors as a consequence of tribalism. So, could the quote below from the Greek philosopher, Plato (c.428-347 B.C.) bear witness to the state that we find ourselves in today?

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Plato

Thanks to numerous groups here in Shepway; Shepwayvox, Save Princes Parade, SOS Kent, SECN (David Plumstead), No Otterpool Town and  Numerous Parish Councils, notably, Monks Horton, Lympne, Stanford and Saltwood, Residents voices are being heard, loud and clear. We are just one of many conduits where opinions are scribed.

Damain Collins with 'make-up'Damian Collins Poster improvedprotest

The tide is gradually turning with more and more Residents showing their heads above the parapet, but more needs to be done. Should we keep reminding ourselves of the words of Edmund Burke (apologies to Women):

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke

It would be right to question, what’s the alternative for ridding our area of  uncaring ‘so-called’ Councillors or MP that couldn’t care less about Resident’s feelings or concerns. It’s clear that their hidden agendas are more important to them than the majority view.

Earlier in the year it was revealed, at a local Hustings. that all political parties, except Conservative, we’re against the developments at the Stanford West Lorry Park, Otterpool New Town and Princes Parade. so there are alternatives to the crooked Council that we have at the moment. Residents only have to ‘wise up’ to the shenanigans of the incumbents.

S&DRA’s mantra has always been: There is no place for politics at District level. The system that we have at the moment, like it or not, is one that we are stuck with. So forget politics and speak to the opposition, speak to Candidates at election time, speak with all the groups already mentioned. There are good people locally among Lib Dem’s, The Green Party, Labour and UKIP (The new Leader, Henry Bolton lives in Folkestone and will be on Question Time this Thursday, 30th Nov at 10.45 BBC1). Independent candidates are usually in touch with the ‘grass roots’ with a wealth of knowledge and should always be seriously considered. There are also Conservative voters that are embarrassed by Leader Monk and his SDC cronies, creating an atmosphere of corruption and hidden agenda’s. Is there a Conservative Councillor that actually disagrees with the en bloc voting system that exists at SDC?

We only have to look across the border in Canterbury to see that the default vote was kicked into the long grass in favour of Rosie Duffield (Labour). If it can happen there, it can happen here.

Spreading the message is up to you as individuals, whether you been down the pub, at a coffee shop, wherever, strike up a conversation on local politics with friends and family, enlighten them to the dodgy dealings here in Shepway, but whatever you do, don’t go ‘Tribal’.

S&DRA.

 

 

HOUSING SHORTAGE – WHO’S TO BLAME.

There isn’t a day goes by now without us hearing about the UK housing crisis, on the radio, TV, Social Media and other online streams.

But who are we to blame for the lack of housing in the UK? Even if our young citizens  can just about afford a property, they are becoming burdened with spiralling debt with a huge mortgage, fearing any hike in interest rates.

Schemes to: ‘Part buy’, ‘Parents as Guarantors’, ‘Help to buy’ are all schemes to allegedly help our children onto the housing ladder, when they are, in fact, doing the most harm by shoring up property prices, not only for this generation but the next generation too. This can be evidenced by spiralling market values of the Corporate house builders: Persimmon, Bovis, Redrow, Barratt, leaving their shareholders to cream off the notoriously high dividends or realising the rise in the share price; profit taking.

Nationally, other contributing factor’s that can’t be ignored is nett migration, irrespective of who they are, running up to a third of a million each year. People will need somewhere to live.

House builders, alongside their consultants, often show that they can’t afford to build affordable housing by massaging viability assessment figures, thereby selling fewer homes to Housing Associations or to the local Council via a Section 106 agreement. This in turn pushes up land values, and as a consequence, property values.

Land banking is commonplace, whereby builders acquire land and sit on it; rising in value, there is no incentive to build if the land value is rising. This could be halted by introducing a Land Value Tax. It does what it say’s on the tin. This would stop, or at least reduce this practice overnight, releasing land for homes.

Private landlords have been accused of pushing up house prices by hoarding property, other than their own residence, simply to realise an income from letting. This reduces homes available, once again, pushing up house prices. In a recent article, Councillors are accused of being the biggest culprits of property hoarding:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/20/one-in-seven-councillors-in-english-rental-hotspots-are-landlords

Looking closer to home, a simple search on the Shepway District Council (SDC) website has revealed that our Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Jenny Hollingsbee has a portfolio of nine Shepway properties, including her own residence in Sellindge. Similarly, Paul Carter, Leader of KCC has a similar number of Kent properties. SDC Leader, David Monk has 2 properties in Shepway and 2 in Canterbury.

Hollingsbee aloneCarterSlide1

Jenny Hollingsbee, Paul Carter and David Monk. Between them, according to their ‘Register of Interests’, they own 22 properties.

Let’s not forget that Monk and Hollingsbee are supporters (as well as the Rebeun Brothers), of building a new town within our communities under the pretence that they are securing homes for future generations. Do they mean future generations with a hefty inheritance windfall coming their way, or for the ‘well off’ to purchase homes to rent out to the less fortunate, at sky high rates.

S&DRA is not opposed to housing being developed in and around our communities. SDC  has already purchased land with Council tax payers money at arable rates, and can therefore go forward with developing real affordable homes, cutting out the corporate developers and their shareholders and using local builders. Council homes could easily be sympathetically built alongside land given over to Community Land Trust’s for development. Thinking outside of the box IS an option for all our communities. A town for the greedy instead of the needy is a catastrophic failing that SDC would never be forgiven for.

All our communities can work together, if we are allowed to, to make it local, make it affordable, making it, if we may coin a phrase: ‘For the many, not the (fortunate) few’.

S&DRA.

Government egged on to scrap Lorry Park.

Almost two weeks ago we were told by our contacts that the proposed Stanford West Lorry Park would be abandoned, but less than a week ago dear old Charlie and Damian were still drivelling on about building a lorry park at pace. Didn’t their seniors tell them that they were wasting their breath!! Not being ones for counting our chickens eggs before they hatched, we kept shtum, albeit sharing with our with our friends at SOS Kent and allied groups.

You may remember that the idea of building the worlds biggest lorry park in Stanford was purely a political knee jerk reaction to the 32 days of operation stack in the Summer of 2015, caused by a Ferry worker’s strike in France, and compounded by Migrant incursions. Since then, the M20 hasn’t seen one day of stack. Our glorious, so called, MP Damian Collins lobbied the then Chancellor, George Osborne to cough up £250,000,000 to build a super sized Lorry Park without even carrying out a feasibility study. Well, Highways England (HE) went along with the charade and carried out community Consultations as a tick-a-box exercise to demonstrate that democracy is in play. It wasn’t  long after that that HE realised that the worlds biggest lorry park would never, ever solve stack, but our MP Damian Collins, along with Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke (aka Halfwit) insisted that the Lorry Park must be built at pace to keep traffic moving. S&DRA, SOS Kent, SECN and ‘Save Princes Parade’ pointed out that Stack could not, and would not be solved by a super sized Lorry Park. for the following reasons, in language that the above mentioned MP’s will understand:

  1. Too many Lorries using the road. The Lorry Park would fill up in less than 16 hours at the current freight flow rate.
  2. Junction 11 will be closed, blocking local traffic journeys. This is in response to the 2km rule between slip roads.
  3. A 40 mph speed limit would cause tailbacks to Maidstone and beyond.
  4. The nearside lane would be blocked with queuing lorries to enter the lorry park.
  5. The fact that lorries would have to enter the lorry park to stop queue jumping when the Lorry park is being emptied, means that the Lorry park would never empty given that almost 6,000 Lorries each day travel coast bound.
  6. A foul drainage system to serve the site would be out of the question because sewer capacity downstream is limited. Portaloo’s would have to be installed and serviced for circa 5000 people.
  7. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will not allow drivers to sleep in their cabs. There were no plans for a Motel/Hotel on the site to accommodate up to 5000 people.
  8. HE finally admitted that a Lorry Park would not be the right solution to deal with Port closures.

The list is almost endless but we’re sure that that would be enough for you, Damian and Charlie, to be going on with.

So there you have it Damian and Charlie. If the lorry park had been built and found to be an almighty cock up, which undoubtedly it would have been, just imagine the embarrassment that you would have felt. Isn’t it better to admit at this stage that you both have egg on your faces and move on.

egg Damian Collinsegg Charlie Elphicke

Charlie and Damian: Shelling out for a Lorry Park would have been a complete waste of taxpayers money. Would that have worried you? Or is that a sacrifice that you would have gladly shouldered as apparatchiks, to climb the political ladder. Moreover, the Residents lives living adjacent to the lorry Park would have been turned upside down, not to mention the pollution: Air, Noise, Light.

Knowing the self serving individuals above, they will have further plans to screw this part of Kent. We, our band of Brothers and Sisters, will be ready for them. In the meantime, we would respectfully ask that they go back to from whence they came and never show their smarmy faces here again in East Kent.

No apologies for the chicken and egg puns, or the anger felt by us all.

S&DRA

 

 

SDC’s Bedfellow’s, Reuben Brother’s, aka Cozumel Estates.

With the publication of properties registered ‘offshore’, courtesy of Shepwayvox, it is now clear to all our readers that Cozumel Estates own the following five plots: Folkestone Racecourse, Land at Folkestone Racecourse, ‘Killymoon’, Ashford Road, Newingreen, Farm Cottage at Folkestone Racecourse and Land at the East side of Brook Lane, Sellindge:  Details of the publication can be viewed here: https://shepwayvox.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/shepway-own1.pdf

Further revelations include:

21 Harman Avenue, Lympne.    https://shepwayvox.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/shepway-own-2.pdf

13, Surrenden Road, Folkestone.                                  https://shepwayvox.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/shepway-own-3.pdf

Horton Priory, Monks Horton.      https://shepwayvox.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/shepway-own-4.pdf

Guinea Hall, Sellindge.                            https://shepwayvox.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/shepway-own-5.pdf

Our interest is purely concerned with the Reuben Brothers affairs and the injustice of those two individuals receiving central Government grants to develop our countryside purely for profit, then squirrelling that profit away from these shores via the British Virgin Islands.  However, the publication of many other registered properties could be described as, err, interesting.

So, do you have a neighbour or know of someone whose property appears on the lists above?

The policy of S&DRA is that we are an information sharing vehicle for the Residents of Shepway and environs. Unlike our District Council, we are totally transparent and look to serve the interests of our Residents.  Given that, we would like to hear from you if you suspect a conflict of interest is staring you in the face, or even if you have a ‘gut’ feeling about anything that needs investigating relating to the development issues that are facing us today.

At this juncture, it should be stated that registering a property ‘offshore’ is not illegal.

So, in the words of a well known Telecommunications company and supermarket: It’s good to talk, and every little helps. Drop us an email at sellindgeresidents@gmail.com

Thank you

S&DRA

 

 

Otterpool Park Funding.

We are constantly asked ‘Why is central Government funding the SDC project called Otterpool Park, when our communities haven’t even been asked whether we want it or not’.

The answer, to all our Residents is simple. Shepway District Council have been economical with the truth when they expressed their interest in creating a Garden Town within our area. The criteria for securing funding and support from central Government is that it be ‘Community led’. Previous posts on this website have shown that less than 3% of Residents are in support of the scheme, with the latest vote taken at the Hythe Civic Society meeting just 4 weeks ago, being just 1%.

The total funding to SDC from central Government to date amounts to £1,250,000. Paid over three tranches: £750,000, £345,000 and £155,000. Apparently, the third payment received was somewhat short of the amount of £1.068m applied for by £913,000.

Commenting on the amount of £155,000 received, Council Leader David Monk said it was ‘wonderful news’. Hmmm. being over 85% short of the amount asked for, we at S&DRA hardly think that it’s wonderful news at all, but would we expect anything else from Leader Monk whose track record on being ‘up front’ and honest is less than solid.

So where will the funding come from if it doesn’t come from central Government? At a recent SDC cabinet meeting we heard how Councillor Mary Lawes (UKIP) expressed concern that funding would be cut from services in her Folkestone Ward to fund the Otterpool Town project, only to be met by a torrent of abuse from Councillor Susan Carey (Conservative) , supported by Councillor Stuart Peall (Conservative) saying that Councillor Lawes was speaking out the back of her head.

Image result for David Monk Shepway

Councillors Monk, Peall and Carey

It just so happens that Leader Monk recently made the statement that services would be cut from other areas of Shepway to fund the Otterpool project if the right amount of funding wasn’t realised.

So how do the Reuben Brothers (Cozumel Estates) figure in all of this? Cozumel Estates, the bedfellows of SDC, owners of the defunct Folkestone racecourse,  is registered ‘offshore’ in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Image result for David Monk, Shepway

The Reuben Brothers, Cozumel Estates.

To our knowledge and our belief, Cozumel have contributed nothing to the consultant’s fees or anything else relating to the Otterpool project apart from the donations made to the Conservative party prior to the announcement of the proposed building of a garden town. So, lets get this straight: Cozumel own the race course and plan to benefit from Government grants in developing the area, which incidentally is our money, taxpayers money, then any profit made by them will be squirreled away to the BVI, thereby not paying tax on any profit at the UK rate. Is this a scandal? A Robin Hood tax in reverse: The morally compassed poor, subsidising the mega rich. Should we be forgiven if we express the opinion that both SDC and Cozumel fall short of being regarded as Patriots?

We’ll leave you to decide that.

S&DRA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NHS in crisis.

If you were in any doubt as to how East Kent could accommodate a 12,000 dwelling new town to house 30,000 more people, in addition to the already planned 8,750 homes, take a look at the latest statistics from the BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41483322 Simply punch in your postcode to reveal shocking statistics.
Locally, we know that Folkestone surgeries are closing down because doctors can’t be found to fill vacancies, with patients being moved to surgeries in Lyminge and other distanced locations. We are hearing of consultation times being cut from ten to six minutes with only one health issue allowed to be discussed. A man in his eighties having to wait in William Harvey A&E for twelve and a half hours to be assessed and treated.  Is this modern day Britain? Is this modern day Shepway and Ashford. 
The fee paying hospital in Ashford is being promoted with finance terms in place. How will this help the average Shepway salaried person on £22,000 pa ? 
 
Please show your strength of feeling on Local Health Issues and come to our Hythe Walk on the 29th October. Details can be found on this website.
S&DRA.

OTTERPOOL Stage 2 Report.

The so called Otterpool-Park-Stage-2-Consultation-Report and Otterpool-Stage-2-Appendix have now been published. A third document: Community-Engagement-Report, has also been released. Please click to view on any of the above.

For the majority of us, it is neither engagement or a document that addresses our real concerns over a proposal to build a commuter town within the area of our villages, thereby destroying our rural lifestyles.

So far, two ‘Community Engagements’ have been carried out to try to win over the hearts and minds of local residents; December 2016 and June of this year. Last June, our entry/exit poll showed that just a handful of residents (1.5%) were in favour of a new town being built, whilst the June Community Engagement showed an increase of a further 1.5% to 3%.

Hardly an endorsement of a project that carries the criteria of being community led. It is clear that SDC have been economical with the truth when they submitted their expression of interest to central government. Indeed, they didn’t even consult with local people on whether we thought it was a good idea. So have SDC been taking money from the public purse under false pretenses to kick start the project, already to the tune of well over a million pounds. And what have their billionaire partners, Cozumel, contributed so far?

The question we should be asking is; why are SDC bothering to engage with our communities when it appears that they couldn’t really care less what we think. Moreover, the Leader, Councillor David Monk, Deputy Leader, Jenny Hollingsbee and Councillor Susan Carey are now refusing to meet residents publicly, aware of the  deepening rancor and opprobrium among Residents. The mindset of these three individuals is clear; They’re in the driving seat of the Otterpool steam roller and nothing will stop them, and it’s now clear that if they don’t get the answer they want the first, or second time, they will try, try again. They are devious in the extreme.

The questions posed to residents attending those ‘engagements’ are designed to ‘draw’ you in. For example: How tall do you think the buildings should be, Are play areas important to you for your children or grandchildren etc etc. The answers to these types of questions are being formulated and kept in reserve to be used against us. It gives SDC the evidence to produce at a later date, to DCLG or a planning inspector that ‘consultation’ has taken place and here’s the evidence.

We are all aware on the infrastructure issues that already confront us here in Shepway and beyond: Water, NHS, Sewage, Roads, Air pollution. The threat of a Lorry Park, Waste site, CHP plant, Customs holding area at Stop 24. These are just a few. Then there’s the issue of affordable homes for our young families. SDC use the term ‘affordable’, but affordable for who? Certainly not Shepway residents.

In March 2018, David Monk and one other SDC Councillor or member will be attending MIPIM; tagged as the Worlds biggest property market. Being held in Cannes, Cllr Monk and Co will be hoping to attract developers to invest in Otterpool Park. Investors being investors will say ‘What’s in it for us’, which is fair enough, but what premium will their ‘take’ put on the price of the average house, along with the builders, architect and so forth taking their profit. Would we be naive enough to think that an investor would be looking to invest in affordable or social housing. Would he or she have any idea about the Shepway family struggling on the average salary of a little over £22,000 pa.

The Otterpool project is about money, no more, no less. It’s not the way to build a community and will only serve to destroy the existing and well established communities that we already have and enjoy.

S&DRA.

Otterpool Charter – your thoughts count. We need your help!

We need your help, urgently! 
You have an opportunity here to make your own suggestions and you should take this chance firmly in both hands and tell Shepway what your vision is of a development at Otterpool Park. The consultation ends on the 17th Oct 2017. Please read below for details.

Shepway District Council have published a document titled ‘A Charter for Otterpool Park‘. On the cover page it describes itself as a “Consultation Draft”.

This is the first document emanating from the Otterpool Park stable that actually uses the word ‘consultation’. It just doesn’t seem to have been put out into the public domain to allow for it to be responded to in a convenient or conventional manner. But, as a document, it does look as if in the future it will be lent on heavily as evidence of the authorities seeking community input.

As a document, it falls somewhere between a promotional brochure filled with estate agent wording, alongside some oddly detailed references to very specific and current legislative requirements for disabled access and the like.

The document promotes “good design”, “flexibility”, and several other issues that are just screamingly obvious. These things are givens, nobody would promote bad design. There are of course aspects that can be supported. Opening up vistas to Westenhanger Castle and taking a very positive approach to managing and enhancing the landscape would be very hard to argue against. Improving and building in bridleways, cycleways and footpaths, in preference to roadside pavements, might be seen in the same way. But, the document also talks of a Combined Heat & Power plant supplying the development; would this presage a resurgence of the application for the Biomass plant at Link Park, and all that that would entail?

What has the document omitted as things that should be provided in this new idyllic place to live and work?

The scale of shopping and public transport facilities is shaded; perhaps this is where new sports facilities should be located, rather than on Princes Parade? You have an opportunity here to make your own suggestions and you should take this chance firmly in both hands and tell Shepway what your vision is of a development at Otterpool Park, much of it on our land.

The purpose of the document, and its future use by Shepway, is not explained, but we do recommend that you should read it, and then comment on it. You should send your observations very quickly to Shepway.

There is no specific procedure or form provided for this so we suggest that you should email your District Councillors:

  • North Downs district that would be Jenny Hollingsbee, who will be attending the cabinet meeting or email to otterpool@shepway.gov.uk, and copy it to jenny.hollingsbee@shepway.gov.uk
  • or to your favourite District Councillor.

If you are commenting, you might want to begin by saying whether you are in favour of developing Otterpool Park or against it in principle. If you are against, even if the juggernaut will not be stopped, you still have the right to say what you would expect to see within any development. Whatever you have to say to them, please copy us in with your submissions because we genuinely want to know what as many people as possible across Shepway think of this proposal.

The document can be viewed here – A_Charter_for_Otterpool_Park_Consultation Draft

 

Furthermore, On Thursday, 5 October 2017 Shepway District & Parish Council’s Joint Committee met and received a presentation of the document. This meeting was attended by a small number of parish councillors from the parishes directly contained within multiple park or abutting it. A minute of that meeting has been published by Shepway.

On Tuesday 10 October 2017, the overview and scrutiny committee of Shepway District Council met and heard much the same presentation.

We haven’t seen much publicity attached to this ‘consultation’ and do wonder if they have simply forgotten to mention it to anyone.

Shepway Vox were in the public gallery and have posted their note of that meeting. These few lines summarise their conclusion, which S&DRA endorse.

“…most importantly there is currently a consultation underway, where you, the public, can offer up your suggestions on how Otterpool ought to be developed. The consultation ends on the 17th Oct 2017 and all comments should be sent to: otterpool@shepway.gov.uk

There is no guarantee Otterpool will go ahead. However, in the event that it does, we believe your voices in shaping the community which may be built there, will help shape the community for generations to come. Therefore, we urge you to read the Charter Consultation and email Shepway DC with your thoughts.”

On Wednesday 18 October Shepway are holding a Special Cabinet Meeting when the document, possibly with some amendments, will be put to the cabinet for agreement.

The meeting at 5:00pm in the Council Chamber will be open to the press and public, it would be great to see as many of you there as possible.