As we enter 2017, there will be many of us who will reflect upon the past year using many an adjective. Perhaps incredulous or astonished would be a couple. A wake up call to many who have now witnessed, first hand, the shenanigans of local and central government, who purport to be our representatives, foisting upon us, and supporting the monstrous Lorry Park and New Town against residents wishes.
For some of us though, it only confirms what we already knew: that honourability, integrity and loyalty is a commodity that very few of these individuals have been blessed with.
For the majority of us, the two developments that have kept many residents awake at night are the Lorry Park and the 12,000 dwelling Housing Estate that SDC are calling Otterpool Park.
As I write, my radio tells me that there will be affordable homes built on brownfield sites with government help for first time buyers. The price: Up to £250,000. On further research, we found that there would be none available in East Kent. Even if there were, who could afford one? And what does affordable mean? And why aren’t they designated as ‘for local people’? Unanswerable by our ‘so called’ representatives.
The ‘so called’ Otterpool Park notion still rumbles on like an out of control super tanker, with little respect for local residents or local Parish Council opinion.
The 3 day ‘Community Engagement’ held at Sellindge, Folkestone Racecourse, Hythe and Lympne saw a good turnout out of residents, (no thanks to SDC advertising, or lack of it) where opinion was massively against the desecration of good farming land to build 12,000 houses. – Our survey results will follow later in the week.
Councillor, Jenny Hollingsbee would have been aware of the negative response to the Cozumel Estates feedback form but still she made no mention of it in the Sellindge Monthly Newsletter. Being economical with the facts seems to be a thread that SDC is encouraging at every level.
Leader of Shepway DC, David Monk has already told us that SDC would have gone ahead with the Otterpool scheme even if they didn’t get the backing of central government. Being ‘in bed’ with the Reuben Brothers, (Cozumel Estates) with their amassed fortune has given him the confidence to make that statement. We are sure that Mr. Monk and SDC have done their research most thoroughly and found the Reuben Bothers to be the most respected, scrupulous business partners, ensuring that any profit from the Otterpool development doesn’t end up ‘off shore’ at the expense of local people/taxpayers.
The Lorry park development to date is on hold, even though our pointless Member of Parliament, Damian Collins is still mentioning it in local journals and telling how wonderful it will be to keep our economy moving blah, blah, blah. The same old rhetoric really does become a bore after a year of listening to it. Here’s the thing: Collins has never had a career in Civil engineering or anything linked to infrastructure development in any way. He is a career politician; that’s his job. If he’s told to jump by his superiors, he simply say’s ‘how high’, If he’s told by Highways England that they have the solution, he believes them because that’s the ‘line towing’ culture that he (and many of his chums) are about. As far as representing the views of his constituents go – forget it.
Thanks to the hard work of SOS Kent and Stanford Parish Council, along with other associated groups and individuals, a legal challenge has now been launched against the Lorry Park. Strange how Collins or SDC don’t like to mention that.
Launched by Westenhanger Castle with an interest from Stanford Parish Council, it has a good chance of succeeding and keeping 250 acres of good arable farmland preserved for our future generations and maintaining the rural lifestyle that Stanford residents so rightly deserve.
Over the year our Association has organised three very well attended and successful demonstrations: Sellindge. Hythe and Folkestone. All very effective, getting the message across that we want our voices heard. Other groups have now joined our newly formed alliance to strengthen their individual voices. Together, we are now lending support to each other as a real band of brothers and sisters. This has only been achievable through information sharing via social media and email streams. Information sharing is essential if we are going to have success in the future in opposing schemes or developments that our Council is hell bent on foisting upon us. It’s with this in mind that I would encourage you all to spread the message across Shepway that there are organisations willing to stand and fight against unwanted development, but we must have contact details of your friends, neighbours, work colleagues and family. With strength in numbers, we can make a real difference.
To conclude we must ask ourselves, why are we suffering the onslaught of massive industrialisation and urbanisation of our beautiful rural area. The answer to that is simple: Damian Collins and Shepway District Council respectively. It was Damian Collins who lobbied central Government for a solution to operation stack. We’re not saying that what he did was totally wrong, but we are saying is that he should have listened to local residents concerns and worked through a solution that would have been acceptable to all. Instead, he listened to Highways England spouting absurdities at their exhibitions, making inappropriate claims over and over again until in the end even they had to admit that a Lorry Park would not solve operation stack. By then it was too late to save face. Sure enough Damian Collins will pay the price at the next election.
As for the New Town, it was Shepway District Council that invited the ‘Expression of Interest’ from central Government after purchasing farmland for 5.2 million pounds. We are all aware of the events that surround that purchase, leaving residents in no doubt that transparency was a dirty word to SDC.
So are we, the residents saying ‘no’ to all development across Shepway? Of course not. But we are saying let us have real consultation as set out via the Local Plan and let us all contribute in the way our district is formed for our future generations – DEMOCRATICALLY.
The aforementioned demonstrations have taken place because we are not being listened to. The bully boy leader, Cllr Monk never listens or returns our calls when messages are left. The majority of his cabinet are little more than sheep, towing the party line with little regard for their local residents who they are supposed to represent.
With our alliance growing and information being shared we would suggest that their days as Councillors are numbered.
There is a very important KCC election coming up in May this year. A Ms Susan Carey will be up for re-election: one of the Councillors supporting the building of the Lorry Park, Princes Parade and Otterpool New Town.
We would have liked to her to come along prior to the election date to tell us how she was going to improve our lives but she, along with Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee has flatly refused to meet us at any public meeting. Are we surprised?
More details of the election will be streamed through our website: Please watch this space for further details.
It just leaves all the team at S&DRA to thank you all for your support throughout 2016 and wish you all a very healthy and Happy New Year.