Gagging orders on borough councillors and landowners, the threat of compulsory purchase orders, secretive meetings in Ebbsfleet, non-consultation with parish councils and communities… Maidstone Borough Council was accused of all these and more during a heated meeting last night (Tuesday, October 15) on proposals for a Lenham ‘garden town’.
The hall at Lenham Heath was not large enough to accommodate everyone who had come to this first protest meeting against the potential new town. People stood outside and listened to claims of misbehaviour by the council in relation to the plans.
None of the parish councils of Egerton, Charing, Boughton Malherbe, Harrietsham or Lenham had been consulted on the garden-town proposal.
County councillor Shellina Prendergast and a representative for local MP Helen Whateley confirmed they too had only learnt from the media what was ‘planned for’ Lenham.
Tom Sams and Janetta Sams, who had organised the meeting, stated that they could disclose everything they knew on Monday, November 4, but not before.
They and fellow independent councillor Eddy Powell were challenged over supporting the proposals from the council, where the Liberal Democrats rely on the support of the independents for their controlling administration.
Much emphasis was put on whether MBC was within its rights to behave in the way it had done, while it was accused of predetermining a process that should be decided democratically.
Henny Shotter, a CPRE Kent member, said at the meeting: “The whole proposal is bonkers. No roads, no sewage infrastructure, this proposed development is the furthest possible from any employment centre in Maidstone, Ashford, the Medway Towns or Tonbridge and Malling.
“The suggestions to build a high-speed railway station so close to Ashford or a motorway interchange are financially unrealistic. They just cloud the fact that the proposal, as far as we know it, is completely and irredeemably unsustainable.”
If you want to support the action group, please get in touch with Kate Hammond on 07925 607336.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019