This is the first monthly news letter from the Maidstone Borough Councillor for the North Downs Ward which includes Hollingbourne. Please Read Mopre for further information.
Time flies and you probably already forgot this year’s elections, let alone the 2016 Maidstone local election. This was the election when the majority of the good people of the North Downs Ward – this includes Hollingbourne- elected me as their local councillor. Some of you may know me, because you needed some assistance, most of you probably won’t.
I try my hardest to stay in touch with the community. Not the easiest task when representing the largest ward by area. When the Editor suggested that I write something for the Stockbury Observer, I was thrilled by the invitation and hopefully this may become a regular feature. It occurred to me then that I could write a Hollingbourne version of this newsletter as well, so here we are:
In my first contribution, I am afraid that I’ll have the displeasure of drawing your attention to the “M2 Junction 5 Improvements Scheme”. Some of you may have attended the road-show or seen the proposals in the local papers. I probably won’t tell you any news that the proposed Option 12A, is a hare-brained betrayal of the taxpayer: Would you renovate an old house but not fit a roof nor windows ?
I guess not. Highways England tries just that with £ 108 million of your money.
The only viable solution would be the discounted Option10 => price tag: £185 million
Staying with my house analogy: if you build it, build it new, fit a roof and windows.
In conclusion: do it properly or don’t do it at all.
As a local distinct councillor I’m only a small cog in the wheel, but I will try my part to send Highways England back to their drawing board.
This month was also marred by the forthcoming Local Plan. In a last ditch attempt, our MP Helen Whately called-in the Plan to Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
As a result, all work at MBC ground to a sudden halt. Many committee meetings were cancelled and for me, as a councillor, it appeared that August was extended. (Usually there is very little work for us during August). The officers however were busy running around and trying hardest to organise the chaos. The full council meeting of 27 September was cancelled and the Local Plan was held in limbo.
Helen’s intention was well meaning, hoping to reduce the housing numbers and stopping the controversial Junction 8 development.
Shock & horror ! ! – when just days after call-in, Mr Javid announced his plans for even higher housing numbers nationally! – you can’t win in local politics !
As it stands, next Wednesday 25 Oct, the Local Plan will come before a special meeting of the Full Council. – Did you notice something? Yes, the Borough’s most important meeting for the next 15 years is held during school half term – ooops! — I, for one, won’t be able to attend.
As it may be, the Plan will most likely be ratified with the votes of the Liberals and some Independents.
We Conservatives will have a free vote, and many of our rural councillors will vote against it, in a loud and strong protest:
The Plan will expand excessively many villages, most of all Lenham and contains many unsuitable rural development sites. Everybody will be aware of the Windmill Lane proposal here in Hollingbourne, but other villages are not free from similar unsuitable ideas. Most of all, the Local Plan will give a green light to a business park near Junction 8.
Generally, traffic and infrastructure improvements in Maidstone will be minimal, if not even counter-productive.
On a positive note, the Plan has no serious implications for any other site in the North Downs Ward, including the AONB. A proposed development near Bimbury Lane / Detling Aerodrome will be kicked in the very tall grass for now, and the Plan gives MBC some powers to defeat inappropriate enlargements, which otherwise may be thrust upon us by developers.
The choice is between a rock and a hard place………..
I almost always attend the monthly Parish Council meetings here in Hollingbourne.
If you are not too busy, drop by. I would be very pleased to meet you there !
Maidstone Borough Councillor
Pictured below is Patrik Garten.