Two letters in the KM this week in response to mine last week... hmmm, I feel a letter coming on!
From the Conservative Mayor:
"Get your facts right, Stuart Jeffery. Where in my letter did I suggest that the KIG land could be used for housing as he states?
"He also states that 'Tories and Lib Dems must share the blame'. The Core Strategy was approved by a majority of councillors from all parties."
Interesting stuff. GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT RICHARD ASH! Check out my letter (link above) - I didn't state that Cllr Ash's letter said the KIG land could be used for housing, just that the draft Core Strategy (signed off by the Tories) did. As for the Core Strategy being approved by all parties - clearly it was not, as Ian Chittenden's letter below states...
From Ian Chittenden:
"I am responding to the letter from Stuart Jeffery of Maidstone Green Party. The reference to equal blame is a travesty as the new cabinet and scrutiny makes it clear who makes key decisions.
"In the case of the Core Strategy, the draft document was signed off first by Chris Garland (now Tory group deputy leader) and then by the Conservative cabinet.
"The only opportunity to discuss the document was through non-binding debate at the local development document advisory group, where significant concerns were raised on the draft Core Strategy and there was non unanimity arising from debate.
"Once out to consultation LibDem councillors submitted detailed concerns (particularly in relation to 'areas of search' for developments including the Kent Downs AONB Special Landscape Area).
"However, the most telling evidence is that as soon as the Lib Dems regained leadership of teh council they binned the draft Core Strategy.
"My observation is that the Lib Dems are being attacked from two extremes. On one hand we have Cllr Ash, who believes that if he repeats it enough, residents will associate us with the Conservatives' unpopular proposals, and on the the other, the no-growth Mr Jeffery.
"Lib Dems are seeking to pursue a common sense approach allowing some development to provide housing an local employment but in sustainable locations and built to high quality."
The equal blame idea was Cllr Ash's - I simply repeated and questioned his statement. Secondly, I don't recall ever suggesting that no more houses should be built, just no more on green field sites. We have plenty of brownfield sites to build homes on and plenty of unoccupied houses that need to be bought back into use before we even consider next steps. Also what about the vast number of new flats that remain unoccupied (about 800 according to the KM last year, I seem to remember)? Suggesting that building houses creates more jobs is also short sighted, once built most of the jobs are no longer required - oh yes... what is a sustainable location?
The whole debacle of the growth point status strengthens my point. It now seems that Maidstone's bribe from central government to increase the number of new houses by 25% has all but been retracted, so why are the Lib Dems still keen on it?
We need more homes, but any new homes must be built to the best eco-standards and should be at least 50% affordable / social housing. Of course, imposing some hefty taxes on second home owners who are turning our seaside towns into ghost towns might no go amiss! How can it be right that some people are allowed to have two houses when others are effectively homeless? Surely shelter is a basic human right?