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General Election - May 2015 - Candidate Statements

With the 2015 General Election looming, BABTAG has asked the five candidates standing for the Charnwood seat (following Stephen Darrell's decision to stand down) to answer two important questions on the 4,500 houses:

1. If it gets final approval the 4500 houses of the north east of Leicester SUE will double the size of Thurmaston, damage the rural nature of the conservation villages of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe and cause major traffic problems across the area. What will you do, if elected, to ensure that the existing local communities retain their identity, are not overwhelmed by 15,000 new residents and are not plagued with even greater traffic problems than they have to deal with now?

2. What pledges will you be putting in your election manifesto regarding the impact that the 4500 houses of the north east of Leicester SUE will have on existing communities in Thurmaston and Barkby?

Here are their responses so you can be best informed when casting your vote!

Edward Argar, Conservative Party Candidate: The winner – now our MP

While a sufficient supply of quality housing is of course vital, I believe this must be balanced with avoiding over-development and avoiding developments which fundamentally change the character of our villages, towns and countryside. Where development does proceed it must be matched with the proper infrastructure to accommodate it. In respect of the SUE, I am concerned about the scale and impact it will have on places like Barkby and Barkby Thorpe and on the productive countryside around them. In planning terms the applications have already been approved and are in line with the Core Strategy. The root of the issue was the previous Labour council’s acceptance of very high housing numbers which, in my view, should have been accommodated within Leicester instead, and the Core Strategy, which I support, has sought to make the best of this situation seeking an evidence-led approach to where houses should be placed.

Given where we now are I believe it is essential that we keep up the pressure to ensure proper infrastructure and I will work closely with BABTAG, local residents, and councillors to fight for this. Although such matters fall within the council’s responsibilities, and you are well represented by your local councillor, if elected as your MP I will also be active and vocal in fighting your corner. A number of issues that concern me remain:

1) I will work with you to ensure that the works, when they commence, have minimal impact in terms of works traffic and noise on the villages;
2) I believe that any forums with the developers and councils to monitor the works and determine infrastructure needs should see local residents, either directly or via the Parish Council, represented;
3) I will fight for a full review of the transport infrastructure needs assessment. The transport impacts will be significant and it is vital they are properly understood and the right solutions found early on to protect existing residents from rat-running and additional volumes of traffic;
4) In broader infrastructure terms, I will work with you all to fight for the local facilities this new development will need if it is to become a truly sustainable community, and not place greater strain on existing facilities, and to hold the developers to their full obligations under the s106 agreement when it is finalized to get the investment in infrastructure delivered in stages so infrastructure comes with development, not after it.
5) And finally I believe it is important that as soon as possible ‘indicative’ plans for land-use, whether housing, light industry etc, are replaced by clear detailed proposals so that local residents can see the detail and have a chance to register views, not least to secure and protect a ‘green belt’ of land around the villages.

I will fight alongside you, and your local councillors, to get the right outcome for Barkby and Barkby Thorpe residents on these issues, and do everything I can to help minimize impacts on some of our most beautiful villages and countryside, and champion your cause.

Sean Kelly-Walsh, Labour Party Candidate

I fully support my Party's manifesto commitment to build significantly more private and public sector housing as we have a significant national shortage.

However, this has to be done sympathetically in all parts of the country. In agreeing new developments, we must always be aware of the history, needs and aspirations of existing communities.

In setting out its local plan the Conservative administration running Charnwood Council does not seem to have taken account of this. This has resulted, as you well know, in 50% (4,500) of required properties being designated for the area adjacent to Barkby/Thurmaston. It is an appalling plan.

Thus, together with the Charnwood Labour Group, the Thurmaston Parish Labour Group and Labour County Councillor Kate Knaggs, I very much deplore the plan as it stands.

Simon Sansome, Liberal Democrat Party Candidate

I have major concerns about how fast Charnwood Borough Council are building homes and pushing forward planning applications just to meet government targets. I'm sure you are aware the Core Strategy has been passed back by government inspectors twice as they just can't seem to get it right. I'm currently running a petition to protect Charnwood from overdevelopment in Birstall. Like your development I'm concerned about facilities and the affect it will have on GP surgeries, traffic, school places, policing and other services in the area.

To make sure local services and the community are preserved is to make sure the developers stick to the section 106 agreements. This is an essential part to any planning application. In my short time as Cllr. I've seen developers get away with not providing the facilities they promised in the planning application. This needs to stop.

We have to make sure the road structure is suitable not only for the new residents but also for residents who call Charnwood their home. We have to make sure that the noise and traffic levels are kept to a minimum and also restrictions may also be an idea so new roads are not turned into rat runs.

If elected to parliament I will work with the developers to make sure that existing residents feel the benefit of having a new community and not the burden.

I will be asking the developers for up to date meetings so that I can keep the residents informed of on-going issues. One of the worst things is not knowing what's going on in your community. We need the community voice heard and would invite public meetings so everyone can have their say and a scheduled time table of what's going on where so people know what to expect.

A community event might also be a good idea so that new and existing residence can meet and get to know one another so everyone does not feel threatened or intimidated but welcomed into the community.

Catherine Duffy, British National Party Candidate

The British National Party is this nation’s only true Green party which has policies that will actually save the environment.

Unlike the fake “Greens” who are merely a front for the far left of the Labour regime, the BNP is the only party to recognise that overpopulation – whose primary driver is immigration, as revealed by the government’s own figures – is the cause of the destruction of our environment.

Furthermore, the BNP’s manifesto states that a BNP government will make it a priority to stop building on green land and productive farmland. New housing should wherever possible be built on derelict “brown land.”

Our ‘green and pleasant land’ is rapidly disappearing as Britain has become one of the most densely populated countries in the world and our population is increasing — due entirely to immigration — which necessitates the building of ever more homes, which in turn places a strain on our infrastructure such as transport and water supplies.

The BNP will relieve the unbearable pressure on our green belts by ending immigration. This will, at one blow, remove the need for an extra four million homes in the green belts of England in particular. Neighbourhood planning is key. We must involve the local community in deciding the location of new homes and identifying what sort of infrastructure is needed to support these settlements.

Charnwood Borough Council Elections May 7th 2015

What does your local election candidate have to say on the new town? In readiness for the Charnwood Borough Council elections also on May 7th 2015, BABTAG has asked all borough candidates in the Queniborough, Syston and Thurmaston wards to answer the following question:

“What will you do, if elected to ensure that the existing local communities retain their identity, are not overwhelmed by 15,000 new residents and are not plagued with even greater traffic problems than they have to deal with today?

Queniborough Ward (including Barkby and Barkby Thorpe)

Conservative: Daniel Grimley -Elected

I voted against the development at planning committee and live locally. I would like to see the open land of separation between the new housing and Barkby and Barkby Thorpe to be held in trust for the benefit of local residents for perpetuity. I agree with BABTAG that there must be local representation on the highways monitoring panel to ensure proper scrutiny and that highways works should be brought forward if the traffic increases over the predictions. On other matters I believe that local residents are the best people to make decisions and I will support them.

Labour: Stephen Rose

No response received.

Thurmaston Ward

Conservative: Matthew Brookes -Elected

With other developments already proposed and accepted, I don't feel a need for 4500 more homes to be built. It is disappointing that we will be losing all of these fields in place of a new urbanisation, but what concerns me more is that if our next government becomes a Labour government, the number of houses planned for this development could double. This would create even more problems for our already strained infrastructure.

I would hope that if I get selected to represent Thurmaston, I could argue all of these points to the planning committee and insist that when the development is built, roads and service be the main priority before the housing. I hope that with the help of Thurmaston residents, we could form enough of an argument with enough strength that the layout of the houses is focused around the needs of Thurmaston and its residents and not around the profits of the developers. The main reason I’m standing is to try to keep Thurmaston's village identity.

Conservative: Brenda Seaton -Elected

After losing the argument that the SUE would be devastating for Thurmaston, Barkby, Barkby Thorpe and its neighbours by way of traffic chaos because of an inadequate traffic plan my role has now changed. I obviously hope that I will be selected to represent Thurmaston for a third term but I see my job now as making sure my voice is heard when each individual planning application for the new development is presented to the Plans Committee. I am very aware of the impact industry will have on the residents of the “Duckpond” area as well as adding to traffic congestion on roads that cannot be altered sufficiently to ease the extra demand on Thurmaston roundabout. The Bellways development is still up in the air as is the Barrett/ David Wilson development. This means that the 'relief' road is not a sure thing. I find myself in a position that whilst opposing any development I am also hoping that one development will prevail as I see it as the lesser of two evils.

Conservative: Mark Lowe -Elected

I think you know my feelings on the 4500 houses and the Core Strategy being the only local councillor to argue with the Inspector at the Examination in Public stage. I will continue to have the same opinion and now fight to ensure all the local communities get out of any development what there deserve and that Thurmaston and no villages including Barkby with which I have strong links suffer.

British Democrats: Joint response from Christopher Canham, Julia Green and Paul Newman

We are 100% against the building of 4,500 houses. Uncontrolled immigration is the root cause of the plan in this location. Last year 298,000 people were added to the UK population through failed border control. The housing plan is at the behest of Leicester City Council. Local Labour and Conservative parties have approved the plan at Charnwood. Realistically, the plan will only be stopped or amended through a judicial review by local community groups, interested parties and local parish councils challenging Charnwood Borough Council. If elected we will campaign to dramatically increase green space (green wedge) between Thurmaston and Barkby Thorpe to protect historic community identities.

Labour: Joint response from Kate Knaggs, Rebecca Knaggs and Aminesh Patel

You are well aware of the views of Labour Borough Councillors, Parish Councillors and Kate Knaggs as County Councillor. Our views have also been endorsed by our Parliamentary candidate, Sean Kelly-Walsh. WE OPPOSE THE PLAN for all the same reasons often adduced in BABTAG publications. Our members spoke against it repeatedly over recent years. Elected members of the Borough also voted against it. The Thurmaston community, with its many and diverse groups, is at risk of being swallowed up by bricks and concrete and 15,000 people who have no affinity with the existing community.

As to the second part of your question we will of course use all our powers to ameliorate the problem of greatly increased traffic flows. We are also cognizant of a range of other pressures which might arise as the development grows.

Syston East Ward

Conservative: Stephen Hampson and Ken Pacey -Elected

No response received

Labour: Joint response from Michael McLoughlin and Gill McLoughlin

In response to your request for our views on the proposal to build a new town which is sometimes referred to as “the Thurmaston Sustainable Urban Extension” we are totally opposed to this proposal, which would double the size of the village, reduce its green areas, and make it part of a massive urban sprawl. The village character would be lost, the local amenities, including shops, schools, and policing would be unable to cope, in particular the already acute traffic problems would be intensified, particularly at peak periods. The Increase in traffic would also have an adverse affect on Syston and Queniborough

Liberal Democrats: Paul Turner

I understand the need for new housing, for the benefit of our children. My concern is massive housing development without the necessary infrastructure, roads, schools, shops etc. I have had no dealings with the proposed development at Barkby Thorpe, but as resident my whole life in the Syston area, I am very aware of its likely impact. I am opposed to all the proposed development in our area, and am particularly concerned with the proposed development on Barkby Lane, which I believe to be further development in addition to the proposed 4500 in Barkby Thorpe. I don’t think anyone in Barkby will be able to vote for me, but if I am successful in the election, I will vote against these developments. I should say that view is not shared by all the Councillors, but as I am a Lib Dem, I vote my conscience, and not what I may be told to do.

Syston West Ward

Conservative: Thomas Barkley -Elected

All the issues of existing local communities retaining their identity, conservation and potential traffic problems will be examined, in detail, in the Core Strategy by the planners and also by the plans committee of Charnwood Council before any decision is taken .

Conservative: Eric Vardy -Elected

I will ensure that the principles inculcated in Charnwood Borough Council’s emerging Core Strategy are adhered to.

Labour: Joint response from David Knaggs and Janet Knaggs

You are well aware of the views of Labour Borough Councillors, Parish Councillors and Kate Knaggs as County Councillor. Our views have also been endorsed by our Parliamentary candidate, Sean Kelly-Walsh. WE OPPOSE THE PLAN for all the same reasons often adduced in BABTAG publications. Our members spoke against it repeatedly over recent years. Elected members of the Borough also voted against it. The Thurmaston community, with its many and diverse groups, is at risk of being swallowed up by bricks and concrete and 15,000 people who have no affinity with the existing community. As to the second part of your question we will of course use all our powers to ameliorate the problem of greatly increased traffic flows. We are also cognizant of a range of other pressures which might arise as the development grows.

   

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