October 2019 Newsletter from our Maidstone Borough Councillor.

Hollingbourne Parish Council has received the following Newsletter from MBC Borough Councillor Patrik Garten. Pease Read More for further information.

Oh I hate, his politics and all the bad things his premiership thrust upon us!

But, Tony Blair made an interesting point on BBC4’s Today programme (19/09/19):

“Politics, at one level, it’s like any other profession. If you spend your life thinking about it, working on it and studying it, – you’ll probably know more about politics than somebody who doesn’t. In any other walk of life we’d say that’s natural. In politics we describe that as elitist.” ——— food for thought……

Unlike mathematics, there is no definite, objective right or wrong answer in politics. It is not that politicians are not trying to do the right thing, rather it is whether they represent their constituents’ best interest.

For now, I will impress my “elitist” report upon you and feed-back to you the latest happenings at Maidstone’s Town Hall. – Your responses are, as always, welcome !

A lot of press coverage has been given to “Maidstone’s Town Centre Opportunity Sites” plan. To be fair, Maidstone looks like architectural vomit: Different shades of Old mixed with brutalist New, spiced up with retail sheds and post industrial monuments.

All along the most treasurable asset a town can display: the river.

Any plan to enhance Maidstone’s town centre will have my vote! Even better, if we could capitalise on the riverfront.

So, no surprise then, that a 14 storey sky scraper, replacing Matalan & Lidl is less to my taste.

Having said that, most ideas, which consultants and elected members have jointly developed and considered, should improve the town centre’s architecture and make it fit for the next half of this century. The “Maidstone’s Town Centre Opportunity Sites” is NOT a planning application but a guidance for potential future developers of selected sites, which are mentioned in the document.

This document will bear some weight for future pre-planning considerations but it will not be a definite plan. When the document comes back to committee for final approval, I will seek to have a substantial boiler-plate-clause introduced, saying that we still continue to encourage alternative designs with substantial imaginative architectural and town planning foresight.

The Town Centre Opportunity Sites Document, sort of, runs parallel to the Local Plan Review. Oh yes, I will remind you again, time is running out on 30 September: please submit your comments: http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/localplanreview

In my own response I will include the need for AONB principles to be integrated as firm policies and I’ll be pressing for a Dark Skies Policy.

You heard me previously talking about my feelings regarding light pollution. Recently, I met a young town’s-man who was keen to tell me that he took his fiancée for a romantic night into our ward to gaze at the stars. – We are so blessed in the North Downs !

Another side-show regarding the Local Plan Review is the, now closed, call-for sites and MBC’s own ambition to build a Garden Community / Town.

A lot of bad blood was let, when members were accused of leaking confidential information. I, amongst other elected members, refused to be interviewed, by officers who were seeking to set up a leak-inquiry. While this whole thing somehow vaporised, I know for sure who the leak’s source was – and that it was not a member !

As I write, the Conservative Group Leader is about to propose a motion at Full Council on 25 September, that all confidential papers should be made available to all elected members.

– Oh, just to add, the discussed MBC Garden Village will NOT be in my ward nor anywhere in the North Downs. (I think that the Local Press was more explicit – so I’m not leaking here anything that is not in the public domain already).

Just for clarification, there MAY well be one or more development sites in the AONB and even in our ward, being proposed by a commercial developer. The responses by developers to the call-for-sites will be made public on 4 November, although Parish Councillors will be notified confidentially one month before.

I think that I mentioned it before: The proposed Garden Community of 5000 houses is NOT a planning application, but a mere corporate ambition by the Council, which may sit side-by-side with commercial developers’ responses to the call for sites.

For the less “elitist” reader: The Council acts with two different hats on:

Firstly MBC acts as a site promoter on a commercial Garden Community enterprise. This would be in competition with potential commercial site promoters.

The other Role MBC fulfils, is being the Planning Authority, who decides which of those promoted sites will or will not become part of the reviewed local plan.

And finally: Yes, my mantra, you know it:

“Report It! Report It! Report It!”

We have a particularly dangerous spot at the upper end of Hollingbourne, where we see daily near-misses and weekly minor collisions. None are ever reported.

Recently a local pub in the vicinity put in a planning application, leading to the loss of a car-parking space. Car parking is a serious contributor to the local traffic problems.

The County-Councillor Shellina Prendergast and I were seeking the support of Kent Highways to stop the loss of much needed parking space. Their reply: “Looking at the injury crash history there have been 3 slight injury crashes, at the crossroads junction in 20 years {….} This authority would not be able to sustain a highway reason for refusal to this application.”

MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward (Conservative)

Email: patrikgarten@maidstone.gov.uk
Phone: 01622-807907

Pictured below is Councillor Garten.

MBC Councillor Patrik Garten.