In a disappointing debate last night local councillors approved the plans for 350 new homes on the school site. Far too many empty seats and too few of those there made any comment at all. Councillors who can spend hours debating minor changes to a country cottage seemed tongue tied when it came to a massive new development in the town. The only real voice of dissent was Cllr North who tried to build a case against the plan on traffic grounds but failed to follow up on incomplete and inaccurate answers from council officers.
Alamein Focus team leader Len Gates spoke against the application and the text of his speech is attached here (Speech of 12 Feb 2015). His comments and those of local residents who objected by post or on-line were on the whole ignored. Speaking after the meeting Len said “I was disappointed to see Cllr North arguing against the plans on just traffic grounds. His attempts to dismiss other objections and blame the county council for not using the land didn’t help his case.”
Even more disappointing was the lack-lustre performance by the other two Alamein councillors. Cllr Brook half-heartedly supported Cllr North; Mrs Whiteley made no contribution to the debate and voted for the plan. Mrs Whiteley has previously ignored local concerns and voted for plans to build 50 houses on the Shepherd Spring School site.
All of this is in stark contrast to the pledges made by the three when elected four years ago.
In an election special from May 2011 (Election leaflet May 2011) their contract with voters included promises to
“Speak up for the Ward in Council Meetings to ensure that Alamein Ward gets the best deal” and “speak up for the area, when planning applications that affect you are submitted and we will always make sure the views of residents are known at Planning Committees.”
In August 2011 Phil North wrote on his website
“The extra houses are not in the Local Plan and instead of jumping in and welcoming these plans we need to go back to first principles and remember that. After the 2,500 houses were approved we warned against any further development north of the railway line – just think about the junction at the Enham Arch. It is clear there may need to be a re-jigging of the plan because there is to be no Secondary School – however over development is not the answer. When the contract with the developer for improvements to local infrastructure was drawn up with the Council it was based on 2,500 homes. To add almost another 400 dwellings will have a huge negative impact on the infrastructure and surrounding villages. ”
So much promised so little delivered.