A hard hitting letter supported by five major groups representing the majority of local residents opinions has been published in the KM, Folkestone & Hythe today. Commenting on the letter, one of our Co Chairman, Les Barratt said:
‘One has to ask; what has made the author of this letter put pen to paper and moreover, be supported by so many groups including a local Parish Meeting. The level of misinformation and great untruths streaming from Shepway District Council is now at unprecedented levels. There is now a momentum of opprobrium from constituents across Shepway to the cavalier attitude of Leader David Monk and his Council in the manner that he’s driving the SDC juggernaut through local democracy. It has to stop’.
There can be no doubt that whatever political persuasion you are, local issues are of paramount importance and taking precedence over any political tag.
We have said it before; We are all Shepway Residents and will be encouraging all Shepway Residents to be pulling together to rid the Civic Centre of the Monk bandwagon.
Here be the letter:
Distrust in Shepway District Council’s fitness for purpose
We the undersigned wish to protest in the strongest terms about the behaviour of Shepway District Council and the majority of its councillors and call for an immediate suspension of all major planning decisions. Our distrust in their fitness for purpose and competence is based on the following:
- The on-going Kent police investigation (case number ZY/035502/14) into the alleged giving of undisclosed gifts to Shepway District Councillors by the former MD of Lydd Airport ahead of the Council’s determination of Lydd Airport’s planning application in March 2010.
- The Council’s failure to present credible arguments to illustrate how having two New Towns on the M20 on successive motorway junctions – Ashford on Junction 9 and 10 and Otterpool Park and a proposed lorry park on junction 11 – could be sustainable in terms of jobs, infrastructure and the wider impact on the environment.
- Councillors’ failure to represent their constituents in arguing for proportionality in housing /development matters. This region of Kent has “done its bit” largely through the Ashford growth centre. While councillors have a duty to ensure that government policy is implemented at their district level, they equally have a duty to represent and deliver the views of their constituents to their council and to government, particularly when their constituents have been pressured to breaking point. In Shepway no such representation takes place.
- The Council’s failure to inform residents that the proposed 12,000 house Otterpool Park new town will be in addition to the 8,000 homes the Council is already committed to provide in the period 2006-2026 and explain why the new town is not put forward to help reduce pressure for new housing in other areas particularly the AONB and Romney Marsh. A tally of 20,000 homes amounts to another Folkestone being imposed on Shepway. Under a Labour government Shepway District Council argued it could not support more than 5100 houses over the same 20 year period because it was unsustainable.
- The failure of the Council to reveal its dealings with the Reuben Brothers/Aldersgate Investments (owners of the now defunct Folkestone racecourse) over Otterpool Park and delineate why it is now acceptable to build a new town which includes the racecourse when the planning Inspector in June 2013 stated that 820 houses on the racecourse would conflict with the Local Plan’s overall spatial strategy.
- The failure of the Council to provide sufficient information to enable residents to provide meaningful responses to the housing site allocations set out in the recent Places and Policies Local Plan, Preferred Options consultation. By not providing information about the number of dwellings which have been built since 2006 it conveyed the impression that all new housing sites put forward in the consultation document were required to meet the District’s target of 8000 new dwellings in the period 2006-2026, when clearly this is not the case. Shepway is already making good progress in meeting its housing targets, particularly on Romney Marsh. The new housing sites proposed for this area will result in the Marsh contributing very substantially more than its designated share of the total.
- The council’s willingness to acquiesce to developers’ pleas to reduce affordable housing allocations on new housing estates.
- The lack of transparency in relation to the Council’s attempt to develop Princes Parade and the churn in consultants employed- pointing to the Council manoeuvring to get the answer it wants.
The list could go on. The behaviour exemplifies the Council’s routinely dismissive and cavalier attitudes to the safeguards implicit in the regulations intended to control the planning process and limit the adverse environmental and social impact of development on established communities, open countryside and farmland.
We are told we live in a post truth society – but we are not prepared to accept this standard. The incompetence, maladministration and outright duplicity being applied by Shepway District Council (SDC) in the conduct of our civic affairs exceed the level which the majority of residents are prepared to tolerate.
Jim Martin, Lesley Whybrow: Save Prince’s Parade
Louise Barton, Mark Skilbeck: Lydd Airport Action Group
Donald Broad: Monks Horton Parish Meeting
Les Barratt, Bob Edden: Sellindge & District Residents Association
Dr Belinda Stott, Julian Goldsmith: South Cheriton Action Group