CPRE Kent emailed prospective parliamentary candidates contesting seats across Kent to find out their views on countryside priorities as detailed in our manifesto.
CPRE’s manifesto asks politicians to:
- Increase delivery of the right housing by investing in genuinely affordable housing to meet local needs, and providing incentives for custom-build and small-scale house builders; prioritising building on brownfield sites first.
- Promote the resilience of the food and farming system by strengthening policies to protect the best farmland from development and to foster the growth of local food economies, from field to fork;
- Enhance people’s experience of the countryside, by committing to monitoring rural tranquillity and dark skies and the policies created to improve them;
- Reduce the demand for car travel and energy, by ensuring places are better suited to walking and cycling, and by retrofitting old buildings and seeking the highest environmental standards in new ones; and
- Prioritise better and smarter transport choices, including supporting community-led transport, integrated and expanded public transport networks and local freight distribution hubs, over road expansion.
We emailed all the candidates we could find email addresses for and here is a snapshot of their views:
Michael Desmond, Labour candidate for Faversham and Mid Kent: “We’ve got to tackle transport issues, help local people obtain affordable housing and promote our heritage and traditions. Most candidates have signed a letter I drafted, objecting to proposals to build 1,700 new homes in Lenham, Kent – trebling the size of what is a beautiful, historic village.”
Dr Alan Bullion, Liberal Democrat candidate for Sevenoaks: “Affordable housing needs to be built on appropriate sites, with integrated road, rail, bus, cycle and other transport links, close to schools, shops, GPs and hospital services. I also travel as much as can by public transport, so know very well the issues and difficulties involved here, but am actively campaigning for smarter ticketing and extension of the Oyster card service to the Darent valley village stations, such as Eynsford, Shoreham, and Dunton Green, as well as Kemsing, Swanley, Farningham Road, and Sevenoaks.”
Kelly Tollhurst, Conservative candidate for Rochester and Strood: “I believe it is important that Britain’s beautiful countryside is conserved and protected – not just for future generations to enjoy but for the communities, business and jobs that depend on it…. Continuing to protect the countryside will ensure rural communities, and the businesses they support, are able to grow so that more people can look forward to a secure, stable future.”
Piers Wauchope, UKIP candidate for North Thanet: “I am a member of CPRE and support all that you do!”
Paul Hobday, National Health Action Party candidate for Maidstone and the Weald: “All our policies are evidence-based in what is good for the health of the nation. All the CPRE policies are also our policies, as they all are consistent with this aim. So we support them all. The countryside just by being there promotes health…let’s work together to preserve it.”
Howard Porter, Green candidate for Tonbridge and Malling: “I am happy to endorse it (the manifesto) and see it as an excellent blueprint for sustainable rural development. The only point I would quibble with is that concerning ‘fracking’. Given the scientific advice that 80% of know fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground if we are to keep within the 2C limit on global warming, it is irresponsible to prospect for yet more fossil fuels. Furthermore, this will help to lock us into a fossil fuel economy for longer than is necessary and push back investment in renewables as has been seen in the United States. For this, and more locally damaging environmental reasons, we would like to see a complete ban on ‘fracking’ and, instead, direct investment towards renewable technologies such as wind, solar and tidal energy.”
Graham Naismith, Independent candidate for Tunbridge Wells: “Completely support all of your aims – it’s like you’ve copied my manifesto!!! Housing is needed but brownfield sites must be the priority. And completely behind the cycling infrastructure improvements. Over the last few months I’ve cycled in Belgium and Holland and we should be ashamed of ourselves.”
Mandy Rossi, Green candidate for Ashford: “I’d just like to say I wholeheartedly support the CPRE manifesto. As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s very in line with Green policies. If elected as MP for Ashford, I will certainly champion these issues, and fight to retain and protect our countryside.”
Roger Gale, Conservative candidate for Thanet North: “We are the custodians, only, of our planet, of our forests and farmlands and of the seas around our island shores. We have a duty to pass that inheritance on to our children and our grandchildren in good order…..
“Until a new generation of nuclear power stations comes on stream then I think that, with all of the necessary safeguards in place and enforced, the exploration for shale gas has to be allowed to proceed. I am not, though, prepared to see a swathe of grotesque power pylons cut through my constituency and ruining the rural landscape to carry power cables from Belgium to Canterbury via the Richborough Connection when it is possible to run cables, if they are really necessary, either undersea to Kingsnorth (where there is an existing brownfield site to connect to the national grid) or via tunneling underground and out of sight.”
Chris Clark, Labour candidate for Sevenoaks: “I believe that everyone should be able to access and enjoy the countryside and that we need to do more to support communities living in rural areas and to protect and preserve our natural environment….
“A Labour Government will make public access to green spaces a priority and empower rural communities to plan their own services. We will also update the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to include a clear ‘brownfield first’ policy and make sure developers provide affordable housing as part of any new developments. Labour will also protect our public forests and support rural businesses by freezing business rates and energy prices for small and medium sized enterprises.”
Marie Jones, Green candidate for Tunbridge Wells: “The Green Party would like to work on improving public transport and has many sound policies for the benefit of those in the countryside, farming and sustainable energy which ultimately will benefit the nation and the world. Obviously, we are the only party opposed to fracking.
“I myself see a necessity in supporting SME’s in rural areas for the sake of the local economies, employment and continuing survival of village life. To me, one of the most pressing issues would be broadband speed. For any small business to function, we need to ensure a workable broadband speed to allow us to compete.”
Brendan Chilton, Labour candidate for Ashford: “We need to be conscious of responding to rural poverty, something which is often overlooked. Some of our most deprived communities are indeed rural communities.
“If I am elected, I will work with the Campaign to protect Rural England to safeguard our countryside and to improve the quality of life for all residents in rural communities.”
Clair Hawkins, Labour candidate for Dover and Deal: “I believe that everyone should be able to access and enjoy the countryside and that we need to do more to support communities living in rural areas and to protect and preserve our natural environment.”
Jacqui Berry, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for Gillingham and Rainham: “TUSC calls for a cap on rents to stop landlords inflating the already unaffordable rental market. However, what we really need is council housing. The free market has utterly failed to provide affordable, ecologically sustainable homes for the majority. Councils must intervene and work with urban and rural communities to plan housing to meet the needs of the population and environment, prioritising building on brownfield sites and renovation schemes.”
Dave Naghi, Liberal Democrat candidate for Faversham and Mid Kent: “The need to reprioritise development away from the vastly profitable, but environmentally damaging use of greenfield sites towards the desperately needed regeneration of parts of Kent, such as areas of my own High Street ward in Maidstone, and parts of Sheppey to name but two, is clear to all but the greedy and the short-sighted. Sadly these groups seem to have influence in certain places, hence the absurd proposal to extend the right to buy, which will destroy affordable housing provision, and the equally absurd proposals to support fracking. An environmentally disastrous policy if ever there was one. We are also very concerned about proposals for reckless economic development ie Waterside Park. Please keep up your excellent work on behalf of the people of Kent.”
Don’t forget CPRE Kent’s election debate, Any Questions?, for the Maidstone and the Weald constituency. This debate will particularly focus on the housing crisis. It is on Tuesday 28th April at Oakwood House Maidstone, 7-9pm. To book a place click here.
To read the CPRE manifesto in full click here.
22nd April 2015