SHEPWAY IN RUINS

Our previous post set out how our beloved Council and their Otterpool developers/consultants organised a presentation, in Ashford, on the unearthing of a Roman Villa and other archaeological finds throughout the whole of the Otterpool area. Why was the presentation held away from the District with no notification that it was even taking place? Set out below is an email thread between David Plumstead and Kate Clover which demonstrates the fact that FHDC and their development partners have no interest in revealing anything of significance to local residents that would delay or halt the building of a Commuter Town on our doorstep. Our aim is to enlighten local residents of the archaeological importance of the area by securing a LOCAL venue where the same meeting could be replicated before the FHDC Planning application is presented to an independent Planning Inspector in late November/early December.

As time is of the essence, we would urge you all to take the time to read all three emails.

17th October 2018

Dear Kate Clover,

Following our brief conversation on Monday evening I have provisionally secured three alternative dates for you to repeat your archaeological presentation at Lympne Castle, these are Mon. 29th Oct – Mon. 12th Nov. or Tues. 13th Nov. 

There is great local interest from Lympne, Westenhanger, Sellindge, Stanford and West Hythe.  The same applies to Hythe town itself but that would require separatel provision.

It would be helpful if you could let me have your response in principle asap as the Castle is a popular venue for a wide range of events.  It can seat over 100, there is ample provision for projection screen equipment etc. and the evening would be professionally staffed with a well stocked bar.

If you are comfortable with the idea I will see if any of my archaeological and professional historical contacts are available to support the event.

In the meantime we have a number of thoughtful Network supporters who would be happy to lend a practical hand with future work on the site and you will probably have spoken to Vernon Morris who lives at Upper Otterpool and is keen to be involved, not least as it is his patch that is being dug.

SECN would handle the publicity and I would be very surprised if we didn’t get a full house.         

Yours sincerely,

David Plumstead

Shepway Environment and Community Network (SECN)

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23rd October 2018

Dear David

It was good to talk to you last Monday evening. Thank-you for your email and  for the offer of organising a venue for a talk in Lympne. I am happy in principle to come to Lympne at some point in the future and to give a talk. However, as I said, it is not really my decision and I can’t commit to anything without client approval. I have since discussed it with the client and project team and we would prefer to defer any future talks until we have the full results from the  fieldwork to share with people, rather than simply doing a repeat of my talk from the week before last. I would not be able to come until next year I’m afraid so please could you put plans on hold for the moment.

Sorry not to be able to oblige at this time. We will be in touch regarding a talk in the near future.

 Many thanks again

Kind Regards

Kate

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24th October 2018.

Dear Kate Clover,

Thankyou for responding to my email.

Nonetheless we are extremely disappointed and very concerned to learn that while affecting to be willing in principle to present the archaeological findings extant at Otterpool to the residents of Lympne in Lympne and for which a date early next month has been arranged with Lympne Castle, you and your client, presumably Cozumel Estates, have decided not to do so until next year. That places the many hundreds of residents living in the area of the proposed Otterpool ‘Park’ development and the thousands living in the development’s wider catchment area in Shepway District who oppose it at a distinct disadvantage in that we have been given to understand that the Council’s relevant planning application could be lodged as early as this December.

To that is added the effect of the transparently biased ploy adopted by Shepway Council and your client arising from holding your presentation in Ashford in a difficult-to-access and cramped venue leaving the unavoidable impression that collectively you were making access to the all important archaeological and historical evidence as unattractive and awkward as possible.

It is completely unsatisfactory and unacceptable that an issue of such importance to local people is being circumscribed by insufficient time and a deficiency of information available to those residents wishing to prepare objections to the Otterpool development, the majority of whom were unable, for whatever reason, to attend your Ashford presentation.  The time table you and your client is proposing undermines the democratic process and we reject it. 

There are two seminal matters arising from that situation that have yet to be addressed if the democratic process and the interests of the community are to be properly served, namely the provision of reasonable time for those wishing to make representations against the Otterpool ‘Park’ development in which to consider all the archaeological and social historical evidence extant and that potentially significant yet to be discovered as clearly suggested by the finds to date and emphasised by you in your commentary accompanying your maps and diagrams viz:  ‘….I would like to investigate the fields under crop at the moment as given the finds already uncovered the likelihood of finding more etc etc ‘

The matter of the proposed Otterpool ‘Park’ development is far too important to our community for it not to be considered pari passu with the inevitable loss of unique historic artefacts and sites, social history and the environmental conditions that underpin the quality of life on which our community places great value.

You and your principals would be advised to reflect on the counterproductive effect the manner in which these issues are being handled is having on our community at the receiving end.  Each failure on their part to act impartially, transparently and honestly alienates us further and further away from their central objective.

Yours sincerely,

David Plumstead

Shepway Environment and Community Network

If you are as disgusted, as we are, with the situation and feel that you would like an answer as to why we are all being ‘kept in the dark’, here are 3 email addresses for you to contact.

FHDC Leader:

david.monk@folkestone-hythe.gov.uk

FHDC Deputy Leader and cabinet Member for Communities.

jenny.hollingsbee@folkestone-hythe.gov.uk,

Rebecca Kearney. Associate Director at Arcadis.

rebecca.kearney@arcadis.com

2 thoughts on “SHEPWAY IN RUINS

  1. I have lived in Sellindge for three years and worked for a London council for 40 years. In that time I’ve never heard of a council totally disregarding its community and rate payers on their opinions. The only way to stop this medieval attitude to people. is to surround the town hall like a siege and demand Monk and his cronies to stand down. In turn, letting all media outlets, including the Royal Society of Archaeology, of our intentions and the reasons for it.

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  2. Well done David for highlighting the underhand way the landowners (including FHDC) are pursuing these purchases and developments in Newingreen Westenhanger and Sellindge without the ‘honesty’ and ‘transparency’ promised at the last Westenhanger Castle meeting. Happy to support yours or Richard’s approach or both.

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