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It’s like pulling hen’s teeth

Apologies for the mixed metaphor, but getting a straight answer out of CCC is slow and painful, and results are few and far between. Here’s a case in point: the forces of Mordor (aka Canterbury City Council) have fixed their beady little eyes on a slice of The Downs, with a view to turning a fast buck. Before they can start developing it, they had to strip it of its Public Open Space status, even though it’s in a ward which their own Open Spaces analysis describes as having a dearth of recreational open space. What they overlooked in their unseemly dash for cash was national Planning Policy Guideline 17 (PPG17), which requires them to identify and supply suitable replacement land.

An inquisitive local resident wrote to Cllr Vickery-Jones, who is the portfolio holder for foreshore, beaches and beach huts:

When will the Council (finally) start addressing its responsibility to provide a suitable and matching replacement for the land it stripped of Public Open Space designation over a year ago? (A duty under PPG17.)

And this is what came back:

This question is interesting as it raises issues such as proportionality. To explain that I must tell you that in my view Councillors have a duty to act without regard for the ballot box, of course they carry an obligation to listen to all residents but they also have a duty to look at the needs of other residents who do not normally raise their voices until the opportunity is lost. I do not and will not ever let people down because I have not been robust in exploring any and all opportunities to improve the ability of Herne Bay to thrive again, even though I am criticised for it. How anyone can ever take the view that this proposal is anything but good for our town, frankly is beyond me.

Our town where 70p in every £1 is spent elsewhere, where our kids can’t stay because there is little work and where the average wage is £11,000. Who can possibly live on that? My daughter is 14, you may well have young people in your family, where is their future?  I have a duty to provide for their needs as well, as best I can.

I am aware that there are quite a few people who have signed a petition against this proposal, however I am also aware that there has been many scare stories circulated which did not provide the full picture. The Downs have never been under threat from this proposal, no one has ever played cricket or football on the area in question nor has any one flown a kite or even walked their dog unless they suffered being torn to bits by the brambles, the cliff is subject to movement which is the reason that very large rain water drains are installed in that particular area. In all this area is totally unsuitable for any of the activities claimed and would only sustain temporary and light structures such as Beach Huts.

Lib Dem Rob Bright stood shoulder to shoulder with me in the local paper because this matter was never ‘Political’ it was always about what was perceived as being the best for all of Herne Bay. We have the same passion for Herne Bay as you obviously do, we only differ in that you can afford to be very ‘local’ whereas we councillors cannot, simply because we have to take a ‘broader’ view, such as what is good for the whole town.

You state that you are an independent individual which gives me some hope that you may take an objective view and with that some better understanding of the issues.

These are entirely my personal views and should be considered in that light, they give a true and accurate of the way I see the matter. if I can assist you further please do not hesitate to contact me, my only request is that you do not ask the same questions as I have answered these, using the sum total of my knowledge.

Load of cock, if you ask me.

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