Three little words …

cartoon commitment

Dear Neighbour

The last time all the seats on Spelthorne Council came up for election in 2011 there were 79 candidates spread over the 13 wards. This time the total has risen by two-thirds: 129 candidates, an average of ten per ward. Seven candidates will also be contesting the Spelthorne Parliamentary seat on the same day.

One of the biggest tasks which the about-to-be elected Council will have to deal with is the Review of OUR Local Borough Plan. Residents are faced with different combinations of candidates in each ward with differing views on this vital issue. To help narrow down the choice, KKG asked every candidate to answer the following simple questions, either YES or NO.

1.  If elected, will you use the powers available to you as a Councillor to maintain the current Borough boundaries of Green Belt land and other open spaces?

2.  If elected, will you use the powers available to you as a Councillor to keep the future housing target as close to the current target of 166 new dwellings p.a. as possible?

3.  If elected, will you use the powers available to you as Councillor to ensure the maximum level of residents’ participation in the current Review of our Local Plan, in compliance with the law, as set out by our legal advisers?

Six out of seven Parliamentary candidates replied. We received no reply from the Conservative candidate. All those who replied answered YES to all three questions, except for the Green Party candidate who qualified his answer to Question 2.

70% of the Council candidates replied. We received no replies from any of the Labour candidates. Some candidates also sent brief comments on why they had answered YES or NO. The Conservative candidates chose to answer neither YES nor NO, saying in a joint statement that they could not give the “declarations of absolute principle” that we had asked for.

Nevertheless, a clear majority of those Council candidates who responded answered YES to all three questions. But the devil, as always, is in the detail. All the responses, broken down by candidate and ward, can be seen by clicking on the links below.

Ashford Common

Ashford East

Ashford North & Stanwell South

Ashford Town

Halliford & Sunbury West

Laleham & Shepperton Green

Riverside & Laleham

Shepperton Town

Staines

Staines South

Stanwell North

Sunbury Common

Sunbury East

Spelthorne Parliamentary Constituency

 

Comment from the Liberal Democrats 

 

 

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“The huge conspiracy theory that will not die”

cartoon conspiracy

KKG – Document 99

Dear Neighbour

You may remember that on 18 March we wrote to the Leader of Spelthorne Council (click here) asking him whether Spelthorne Council had written to Surrey County Council to correct the map the County had issued showing 1500 dwellings to be built on a Housing Growth Site at Kempton Park.

On 20 March, Councillor Watts replied (click here) saying, amongst other things, the following:

“Furthermore, my Borough/Surrey County Councillor for Sunbury – Tim Evans has written to David McNulty in relation to this matter.”

In our original letter we had asked Councillor Watts for a copy of the correspondence. He must have forgotten to send it to us, so we asked Surrey County Council for it.

As it turns out, Councillor Evans only wrote to David McNulty (the Chief Executive of Surrey County Council) on 19 March.

The exchange of correspondence is in Document 99, attached. Read from the bottom up.

Kind regards

Keep Kempton Green

Who killed Cock Robin?

kp bulldozer comp 2

Dear Neighbour

“Not us”, said Kempton Park.

We don’t know what caused the sparrow-hawk’s demise (see here)  they told us verbally last weekend, but it definitely wasn’t due to gas leaking from the landfill underneath that area of Kempton Park, they insisted. Well, maybe.

But if we rule out a heart attack at 2000 ft leading to it falling directly into that grey plastic tube (within which the gas monitoring equipment is placed), then what could have caused its death? An open verdict is what we are left with. (The picture above shows the sparrow-hawk on top of the cover of the monitoring equipment after the grey plastic tube had been lifted off.)

Since then, a number of square pieces of what appears to be roofing felt have been placed at various places on the Kempton Park estate.

reptile 2reptile 1

reptile 3

They are part of a reptile survey, we are told. It is hoped the reptiles will be enticed to climb onto them after the squares have been warmed by the morning sun, and can then be counted as they take advantage of the heat. Sort of sunbeds for snakes.

Let’s hope they don’t end up like the sparrow-hawk.

Kind regards
Keep Kempton Green

Draft Retail and Other Town Centre Uses Study – KKG Response

pop

Another day, another draft for consultation. They’re coming in thick and fast.

Last month Spelthorne Council published their Draft Retail and Other Town Centre Uses Study.

We welcome this opportunity to submit our comments on that Draft.

In summary:

*     The Draft Study assumes a rate of population growth in Spelthorne over the next twenty years of 18%. It accepts this projection without question or enquiry as to its suitability to this Borough.

*     Around two-thirds of this projected population growth is made up of net migrants into Spelthorne, overwhelmingly from other parts of England, and mainly from London Boroughs.

*     This not an external factor over which Spelthorne Council has no control. Such a large assumed rate of growth should therefore be treated with the utmost caution, particularly as this Borough moves ever closer to full capacity.

*     Emphasis should be placed on providing first for the local natural increase in population and locally-based changes in population structure, rather than facilitating further net inward migration.

*     Central government guidance allows for these high level population projections to be adjusted to suit local conditions, providing this can be justified on the basis of robust evidence. Further detailed work on population growth and housing need should be completed before accepting the conclusions of this Study.

These summary points are discussed in detail in the submission document. Click here to read it.

To read the Council’s Draft document, click here .

What are they so afraid of?

'And here are the results of our listening exercise.'

Dear Neighbour

We’ve been saying it for more than six months. Now our lawyers have spelt it out for the benefit of the Council.

The consultation period for the Draft Statement of Community Involvement ended this week. This document, when finalised, will set out the rules governing what say residents will have, firstly, in the Review of our Local Plan, and secondly, in the ongoing consideration of Planning Applications through the next few years.

The Council’s Draft Statement contains a number of escape clauses, allowing them considerable freedom to decide whether to consult properly with residents or not. One clause (para 3.10) actually excludes any discussion of the methodologies the Council will use to generate the housing targets and all the other numbers they will calculate.

What that means is that any consultation will be largely meaningless. “Here are the numbers,” they would be saying, “and we will not entertain any questions about them.” Roll on a minimum of 8000 dwellings over the next twenty years, as they said in the document they were so cross about when it was “leaked” to us. (It should never have been kept secret in the first place.)

So we sought legal opinion. (Thanks to all those who helped pay for it by contributing to the Fighting Fund.) The legal position is as follows:

The Draft Statement of Community Involvement does not go far enough to satisfy the requirements of the relevant legislation and guidance for community involvement

* Consultation must (not “may”) be undertaken at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage

* Consultation must (not “may”) include sufficient reasons for particular proposals to allow those consulted to give intelligent consideration and an intelligent response

* Adequate time must  (not “may”) be given for this purpose

* The product of consultation (including the current consultation on the Draft Statement of Community Involvement) must (not “may”) be conscientiously taken into account when the ultimate decision is taken.

That means residents are entitled to be consulted from the earliest stages of the Review of our Local Plan. And that also means that the final version of the Draft Statement of Community Involvement could be challenged in court if it does not measure up to the requirements of the law.

The meaning of the word “consultation” is set out in detail, quoting from judgements from the High Court all the way to the House of Lords, now the Supreme Court.

That legal definition of “consultation” is somewhat different from what the word has come to mean in Spelthorne. It specifically does not mean politely thanking residents for their comments, and then, just as politely, ignoring them.

There are any number of Spelthorne residents with direct experience of the planning process and associated disciplines, who are well able and willing to contribute valuable expertise to the process of a Local Plan Review.  Surely the end product of such a process – properly involving residents – would be something valuable?

It would provide full democratic legitimacy when the Local Plan is challenged by developers, as it inevitably will be over time. After all, the Local Plan should be for and about the residents of Spelthorne. We are the ones who will have to bear the consequences.

One wonders what the Council are so afraid of.

Kind regards
Keep Kempton Green