Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Forrester's & Livingston Planning continued...

There are many times where an original text goes before an editor and is changed for numerous reasons and although I agree with changes I also feel I should post the original article in its original tone. Here is the text that went onto the Medway Libdems webpage.

This weekend there has been a furious response to Tony’s letter in the Medway Messenger regarding Planning Committee. They feel it is an unjust personal attack on and that events did not play out the way they are described.

First off the bat I should describe the planning issues.

Forrester’s Hall on Sturdee avenue had been abandoned not long after my daughter’s third birthday in May 2013, the caretaker said that when we booked the hall that it was for sale. Since then it has been boarded up and derelict. Neighbours on Sturdee Avenue and Valley Road had noticed that it had been used by local youths as a squat come drug den and has not only been vandalised but also set on fire. I was deeply saddened to have to report this to the Police myself back in January when I found it broken into and the level of damage inside. The property has been since been bought by a developer who is proposing to build four bedroom houses on the site. The big concern for residents on Valley road is that these new houses are set back on the land and will now be overlooking their gardens and back windows effectively compromising their privacy.

The second issue was the now derelict British Legion building on Livingstone Road which is likewise to be demolished and have houses built on it. The big problem with Livingstone road though is parking. Although to Council officials and enforcement officers will note that during the day time there is no excessive parking they will not notice that in the evening and weekends the pavement becomes impassable with cars parked upon it. It is something I have written about extensively on my blog and is a constant annoyance for families like mine who cannot pass the parked vehicles with a pram or indeed with my disabled daughter’s walking frame and we are forced to cross the road on the bend to get to an easier path. Basic road safety tells you that that is not a good idea and with the rate of knots that some people drive down Livingstone road it is only a matter of time before there is an accident. I raised my objection for the development based on a worry that there would be less adequate parking and that pedestrians like myself would suffer. It was a complaint echoed by other residents.

Both issues were discussed at length at the Valley Road PACT before the election in May and objections logged with the council before the deadline in April.

The big complaint that Labour have got is that no one told them and that they had not attended the meetings prior to the election and that the issues were not discussed after the election.

Firstly, the candidates would have known about the PACT meetings as the first meeting I attended was chaired by Gillingham North’s very own Pat Cooper of Labour, who was invited to subsequent meetings but failed to attend. I would have thought it would have been in the interest of any prospective candidate to attend such meetings and get a feel for their area and with the open nature of the forum I’m sure they would have been more than welcome. The other issue is of course the planning complaints were not brought up at the last meeting (the first since the election in May) as the deadline for lodging concerns had passed and it was “old business.”
Parking on Livingston road

Secondly; I find it hard to believe that the new Councillors didn’t have the ability to look at the upcoming planning proposals before the meeting on 30th June. All upcoming planning proposals were on the website with complaints/comments posted and would have been available to Councillors by officers beforehand. If, again, they had done their homework they would have seen what was proposed in their ward, what issues were raised and by whom and they would have had the ability to contact residents with issues.

There will no doubt be accusation of “Sour Grapes” because we/I lost the election in May but in all honesty I and the resident who helped Tony draft the letter and gave their approval, are just annoyed that genuine complaints have not been addressed because of seeming apathy.

I welcome any positive feedback from the Labour group answering these concerns.

There are a couple of criticisms that have been levelled that I should clarify.

There is a lot of history between the Medway LibDems and Councillors MacDonald and Stamp and I'm sure that there will be claims of personal attack and part of an ongoing hatchet job.this of course is untrue in my case. I joined the group after whatever happened happened and I can count the number of exchanges I have had with them on my hands.

I have no interest in what happened nor in continuing any perceived grudge.

The other thing is that I have been accused of hypocrisy for not lodging a complaint about not lodging a complaint about the Forrester's hall development - ignoring the one i put in about Livingston. Also that I am supposed to be representing my community.

Well first - I didn't lodge a complaint for the simple reason - I forgot. Working 39 hours a week, a 4 hour commute to London & back every day, three children and a ton of proof reading meant it slipped my mind. Had I been elected though I would have quit my job in London and I would have looked at the concerns on the planning application.

As for representing the community - I was not elected and do not pretend or attempt to represent anyone but the Sams family. Representing the community is your job Councillors.

I'm guilty of many things; Poor memory, putting the rubbish out in my pants and a t'shirt, loving Runaway bride and having a guilty love of the music of Taylor Swift but hypocrisy is not one of them. I was brought up with a strict moral code and belief in honour which I think has come out in my blogging - if someone does soomething good I'll commend them. If they do something bad I'll criticise no matter which party they are. I got into politics not because I wanted power or to be a councillor but to do good and help people, if I had wanted to be a Councillor as my primary goal I would have takne Vince on his offer and joined Labour back in 2012 or the offers I had to join the Tories... I am a man of principle

Take this on the chin and learn from it.