Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Sustainable Communities Act - Kent gets it so wrong

The press release from Maidstone Greens two days ago welcomed Maidstone Borough Council's announcement that it wants residents views before making a submission under the Act. Of course putting out the press release calling for suggestions just a few days before the closing date was a bit of a poor show but it is hoped that there will be a chance for a further submission later this year.

The reason that I think think that their timing is poor is because they have had plenty of time to get underway. I raised the lack of action on the SCA at February's Council meeting and was told by both political groups that they supported its use and wanted to see action on it asap. But action just didn't happen. The LibDems put a formal motion to Council a few months later and there was still not discernible action.

With the elections over I spoke directly to the director in charge of the process who informed me that letters had gone to parish councils but no suggestions had been received. So I pushed for more engagement with individuals and was told that they would publish a piece in their August edition of their magazine.

It was very clear from watching a recent OSC meeting that there are people in Maidstone that care and want to have a voice but unless the council engages with them directly, how will they know about this important piece of legislation?

Which brings me on to Kent County Council. Did you know that they launched a consultation on the 1st April inviting suggestions under the Act? No neither did I, and no it is no April Fools. The consultation was launched online among the other 50 or so. Unless you regularly visit KCC consultation website you will have missed it.

So guess how many external suggestions they received? None. One of the most important pieces of legislation asking for suggestions from £1.4 million people and not one person outside of the council made a suggestion. I wonder why... perhaps I'll have to change my home page from Google to KCC consultation website.

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