In recent weeks there has been ongoing rumblings that the Shepway Green Party has, allegedly, sold out on the campaign to oppose the proposed Otterpool Park New Town development.
Recent videos from Shepwayvox have highlighted this sentiment with Councillor Lesley Whybrow taking the brunt of the critisism. But is it only The Shepway Green Party that has, allegedly, sold out on Otterpool? On the 6th August 2018 a video was produced by the Save Prince’s Parade (SPP) group opposing the Prince’s Parade development: ‘Prince’s Parade, Development or Destruction‘. We should say at this juncture that S&DRA has always supported this group, raising funds and generally supportive of the campaign.
Of all the demonstrations organised by S&DRA, invitations were sent to the SPP group to attend and take advantage of all our public gatherings which they readily did, and rightly so. We are still supporting their campaign.
Sadly, we find that during this video, Jim Martin (now a Green Party Councillor) and Val Loseby, a member of The Liberal Democrat Party and a member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE, Protect Kent),referring to Otterpool, said this, respectively..
“Shepway District Council have a full pipeline of housing sites, in fact with Otterpool and with the Harbour Arm they’ve got an oversupply, a massive oversupply of housing sites available to meet housing need”.
“Now they (SDC) have Otterpool Park, which is a town of 10,000 houses; that’s going ahead; that’s been approved. I don’t see why they need 150 houses on Princes Parade to meet their target”.
From any point of view, the above statements suggest that both Martin and Loseby are throwing the Otterpool campaign under a bus to stop development at Prince’s Parade.
Moving on, the Shepway Green Party have already admitted that they will not fully oppose the campaign to stop the Otterpool New Town project and show no shame in publicising this heading on their website: ‘Why we cannot stop Otterpool’.
The reasons are, they say, housing need, as stated from central Government. Well hang on a minute. Let’s return to our video where Green Party Councillor Jim Martin says: In this particular part of Kent, we’ve got a massive supply of potential pipeline sites, so housing need as an argument really disappears.
And let’s not forget that Otterpool was set before FHDC as an Expression of Interest from central Government, no doubt assisted by Conservative MP Damian Collins. There was absolutely no directive from central Government to build a town; It was an invitation only. FHDC could have said NO THANK YOU. make no mistake that if this Council was anything other than a Conservative Council, Otterpool would not be happening.
Otterpool was set in motion as a vanity project from the leader David Monk and his, then, overwhelming Conservative majority cabinet. The true, local housing need has been assessed through the process of a local plan. The total number of homes required is 14, 560. That should be the end of the story. Anything above that number should be challenged, which we are doing.
For the local Green Party to roll over and accept a Government directive, ignoring real local environmental issues is, frankly, a disgrace.
And finally a message to Val Loseby from CPRE, Protect Kent, Charing Office, where Ms Loseby is a member:
“While we entirely support the principles of high quality, sustainable design and place-making, we strongly disagree that this is the right location for a garden city of this scale. The existing pressures for development in this area are extreme, not least with the region being categorised by the Environment Agency as being under ‘severe water stress’, and we question the wisdom of drawing even more housing in to a county and a region which is already struggling to accommodate the housing targets being generated in local plans. Dr. Hilary Newport.
More on environmental issues and overpopulation in our next post.