For KCMG, the carnival was a great success, with lots of support from local people. We took over £220 on our stall, and were busy most of the time – with people either playing the Tom-Bola, or looking at the large scale maps & photographs we had on the stall. Thanks everybody for giving us so much attention. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the photos cannot be uploaded now – they will be published as soon as we can.
A huge THANK YOU to all of you who came for a chat, looked at the maps & supported our stall yesterday at Corfe Mullen Carnival. Photos and news to follow shortly.
By Juliette Astrup
CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for green belt development in Dorset are taking their battle to the newly-appointed minister in charge.
John Denham has replaced Hazel Blears as Secretary of State for communities and local government after her sensational resignation just weeks before she was due to return the decision on the South West Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS).
This controversial document lays out plans for 48,100 new homes in Dorset by 2026, and would cover swathes of greenbelt with 1,500 homes planned around Bournemouth, 2,750 at Lytchett Minster, Lytchett Matravers and Upton, and 2,400 at West Parley, Corfe Mullen and Wimborne.
And now groups fighting the scheme are calling for the new man in charge to hear their pleas before making his mind up.
Jo Haywood, spokeswoman for Save our Green Spaces, the coalition of more than 30 action groups across the South West, including seven in south east Dorset, said: “There are tens of thousands of angry people from across the region, including local councilors, wanting a word with John Denham.
“Our groups are planning to deliver thousands of letters, emails and postcards to Hazel Blears’ successor to show our increasing frustration at the government’s plan to push ahead with the strategy against strong opposition.
“We intend to take our campaign direct to new minister John Denham in Westminster. We want to be one of the first groups to meet with him and will be writing to ask for an early appointment.”
Campaigners have also welcomed a High Court judge’s ruling last month that the government’s East of England Plan for thousands of new homes in Hertfordshire must be reconsidered.
Terry Stewart, president of the Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “This sets a great precedent which could save our green belt.”
He said the local action groups were holding a meeting on June 15 to agree a “combat action programme.”
Ccouncils in the area are planning to fight their case at the high court should current housing figures be imposed on them.
Monday 27th April 2009
DORSET councils are preparing for a legal battle against the government over plans for green belt development.
Barrister Timothy Straker QC has been tasked with finding legal grounds to challenge housing figures laid out in Regional Spatial Strategy – 48,100 new homes in Dorset by 2026.
Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, is not due to make the final decision on the plans until the end of June – but councils are preparing for the worst.
Jonathan Mair, head of legal and democratic services at Dorset County Council said: “When it is published Dorset councils will need to be ready to act quickly if this is to happen.”
He said Mr Straker had offered a “preliminary opinion” and was now looking in detail at concerns relating to specific districts.
So far the cost is around £1,000 each for Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset, but legal bills could rocket if the fight goes all the way. Mr Mair said the final cost would depend upon how many councils were prepared to participate, and if they won.
Dorset county councillor Susan Jefferies, who tabled a motion before cabinet asking for a commitment to legal action, said: “It’s going to be a difficult one to challenge, nobody should have any illusions about that.
“We can’t challenge the quality of Hazel Blears’ decision, we can’t say we all disagree with it – we could say she hadn’t been given all the evidence. The feeling is very strongly that local democracy has been utterly run-over roughshod.”
The strategy would decimate swathes of green belt with 1,500 homes planned around Bournemouth, 2,750 at Lytchett Minster, Lytchett Matravers and Upton, and 2,400 at West Parley, Corfe Mullen and Wimborne.
She said: “It is unfortunately no surprise that the Prime Minster did not answer my question properly. He would prefer to avoid the issue than admit that his proposed policy in this area is draconian and deeply unpopular with local residents. Mrs Brooke’s direct questioning is part of the ongoing fight against the South West Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which proposes the building of houses on Green Belt land in her constituency. This would result in an extra 2750 homes in Lytchett Minster and 700 more in Corfe Mullen. She added: “I recognise that we need more houses, but it is the manner in which they are being imposed upon us that is unacceptable. Such is the strength of local feeling that 35,000 representations were made in response to the RSS proposals; this is a record number and the whole process has been slowed down because of it. The fight to protect our Green Belt continues.”
The Government’s response to the consultation on the Strategy was expected before Christmas but has been delayed because of the record number of representations and as yet a timetable hasn’t been published. The campaign against development is also being kept in the public eye by the Conservatives
Jim Paice, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, visited Corfe Mullen to see where new homes would be built.
He said: “I am truly astounded that the Government can be considering development on this scale in this area. Housing shouldn’t be forced on communities in this manner and to lose an area of such considerable beauty would be a tragedy.”
Nick King, Conservative spokesman for Mid Dorset and North Poole, added: “This is just part of our fight to oppose development of the Green Belt. I’m delighted Jim was able to reiterate what David Cameron said when he visited the area last November: that a Conservative Government will stop these development plans and return decision making over this kind of development to local people.”