Last night, unlike the Liberal Democrat councillors, I attended Maidstone Borough Council's Planning, Transport and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Rather than take their place at the committee and debate one of the most important documents in Maidstone's recent history, where new homes and businesses should be built over the coming 20 years, the three Lib Dems* decided to boycott the meeting.
This cowardly political act meant that they refused to be a voice for any of the voters that they represent, it meant that the committee was almost entirely Tory (Councillor Munford did his best to defend affordable housing but it fell on deaf Tory ears), and it demonstrated that they are not fit to represent people in Maidstone.They claim the process is flawed, and they are right in that respect, however backing out of the debate simply makes the process far worse.
While Jasper Gerard says he'll lie down in front of a bulldozer to stop Fant Farm being build, his councillors won't even turn up at the only opportunity they have to formally influence the draft plan.
The committee agreed to recommend that Fant Farm is removed from the draft Local Plan when it gets discussed by Cabinet next week. I hope Cabinet agree to this as Fant Farm is much needed Grade 1 agricultural land.
The sadly stated that they want to see 'getting the traffic moving' prioritised over affordable housing. This is huge slap in the face of those in urgent need of homes.
Cllr Munford did a good job exposing the lack of affordable housing planned for the town centre and of exposing the strategy to put affordable housing away from jobs and transport links.
*The three Lib Dems were Cllr Fran Wilson, Cllr Belinda Watson and Cllr Ian Chittenden.