Jo Parry and myself are holding another Meet the Candidates event, this time at Quendon Village Hall, on Tuesday 3rd March at 8pm. We will have the very professional manifesto display from the launch in Walden, some brief speeches, and there will be glasses of wine and soft drinks
At the Newport event in February, which was also attended by John Lodge, there was an excellent Q&A session. Most of the discussions were about housing and the Local Plan, and the speeches focussed on R4U being a local party and not operating a party whip – we believe Westminster style politics have no place at a district council.
One of the questions was ‘How do your policies differ from those of the Tories?’ Setting aside that the local Conservatives don’t have a manifesto, the answers included ensuring that developers pay their full contributions, for example for new sports, play areas and green spaces – where we think they have missed out on £3.5m – and protecting viable employment premises from housing development. Examples are the commercial units at Carnation Nurseries in Newport about to become Frankland Mews, and the Ridgeons site in Walden.
And of course the question ‘Where would you put the houses?’ The answer for Newport is that one of the two sites proposed for the Plan is on the far extremity of the village and was opposed on grounds of remoteness and poor access. But the large quarry site which residents favoured (and was put forward by its owners) UDC would not accept. The answer in this case is to do what residents ask! (Interestingly the poor site was given permission anyway but as far as we know 18 months later no developers are prepared to buy the site)
The answer for the district is that the Inspector has thrown out the Plan on grounds including that we can’t carry on adding to existing settlements if the access and the infrastructure and services have not, or cannot, be provided. The process is now back with a new Working Group to recut the numbers and consider the evidence to decide on possible sites, or whether a new single settlement will be a better option.