I recently received the below letter from Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, concerning the revocation of the regional strategy for the South East of England Plan. I warmly welcome this announcement which means that the top down Central Government targets for house building will be scrapped. It will give more responsibility to elected local councillors to decide how much development we need and where it should take place.
Archive for the ‘Drayton Beauchamp’ Category
A letter from Eric Pickles concerning the revocation of the regional strategy for the South East of England PlanFebruary 14, 2013
The local NHS consultation closes on 16 April.
To see a short and jargon-free summary and to comment online you can look HERE.
The proposals include changes to hospital services at Stoke Mandeville and Wycombe. There’s been a fair bit of coverage in the local media already but if you haven’t yet what is being suggested and want to have your say, do follow the link.
Douglas Hurd once said to me when he was Foreign Secretary that one of the strongest reasons to support the British system of having one MP for each constituency (a lot of democracies use proportional systems with multi-member constituencies) is that it kept your feet on the ground. For him, it was having to come back from international meetings with the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev and talks about the end of the Cold War, to sit in a draughty church hall in Oxfordshire while people came and shouted at him about the Poll tax.
It was a bit like that this Friday. After three days in the States, I was back (rather jet-lagged) to a full constituency programme. I started in High Wycombe, where (along with my colleagues Dominic Grieve and Steve Baker) , I was briefed by the leaders of Wycombe District Council about housing, planning and economic development issues. Then to Aylesbury for an update from Arla on their plans to build a huge new dairy just off the A41 Aston Clinton bypass. The company is making further changes to its proposals in response to local comment and intends to submit a formal planning application to Aylesbury Vale District Council in a few weeks’ time. I’ve told them that when they have settled on their final plan and submitted it, I will want to visit the site to get a clear idea of what the visual and noise impact the new development would have on the local area.
The afternoon brought the usual three hours of constituency surgery cases (letters to dictate over the weekend) and then in the evening I went to the public meeting organised by Stoke Mandeville Parish Council to discuss HS2. There were well over 200 people present. The Eskdale Road Community Centre was full – not just the hall but the two small meeting rooms as well- and people were standing in the foyer and outside the windows of the hall too. Obviously people were very worried about the local impact if the scheme goes ahead, especially since the Secretary of State has now confirmed (see earlier posts) that the current plan involves re-routing both the A4010 Risborough Road and Marsh Lane over the top of the HS2 line, something which , because of masts and gantries needed for the railway, would involve a high flyover. But both the presentations from the platform and the questions from the hall focussed on the business case and the claimed national interest justification for this proposal. People asked about the forecasts of passenger demand, whether ordinary families could ever afford an HS2 fare, whether the project could be afforded, whether it would regenerate northern cities or just draw more jobs to London and whether other improvements to rail and road networks could provide a less costly and less environmentally destructive answer to the need to provide additional capacity. Throughout, the tone of the meeting was calm, focussed and serious. These were not people who can be dismissed as NIMBYs.
A team from Arla came to see me in Aylesbury on Friday to brief me on their plans for a new mega-dairy beside the A41 Aston Clinton bypass. I was pleased to hear that they have already had a meeting with Buckland Parish Council and are sending out a leaflet to every home in both Buckland and Aston Clinton. Public exhibitions are to be held in both Aston Clinton and Weston Turville. My own first reaction to Arla’s plans is to welcome a development that will bring 500 jobs to the Aylesbury area. Our local economy has far too few big private sector employers and the largest, Lloyds/HBOS, is cutting jobs sharply. But it’s also right that any development should go through a proper planning process and that local people have the right to have their say. I hope that Arla’s decision to take the initiative in publicising their plans will mean that the debate can take place on the basis of a shared understanding by of the facts.
One or two constituents have told me that they thought the new dairy would actually involve keeping large numbers of cows in sheds. This isn’t the case. This will be a dairy to process and pack milk brought in aboard tankers. There is a completely different controversial proposal by other people for a massive indoor dairy unit, housing hundreds of cows in sheds, but that is in Lincolnshire not Bucks.
Another welcome bit of news is that access to the dairy will be directly from the A41 and not from country lanes.
I look forward to learning more as the planning process gets under way.