Caddington ward covers the six parishes of Hyde, Slip End, Caddington, Kensworth, Whipsnade & Studham
Individual parish council websites (where available) can be reached by clicking on the names aboves.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

An alternative view of what's best for Caddington

A reporter for the Luton News / Herald and Post was, unsurprisingly, covering the airport expansion decision on Friday (a topic covered by my fellow councillor, Richard Stay, on his blog).  When this reporter commented on twitter about a poll, Mr Dan Heley took the opportunity to ask her a different question - had she considered polling people about the possibility of housing expansion West of Luton towards Caddington?

Mr Heley, you may remember, stood for the Labour Party in this ward in 2011 but feels that perhaps Caddington and Slip End are represented by the wrong council in being part of Central Bedfordshire rather than becoming part of Luton Borough.

I can tell you that the Neighbourhood Plan Questionnaire distributed around the two parishes earlier this year included a question about whether the parishes should be making additional provision (over and above housing need for the villages) to accommodate extra housing for neighbouring authorities.  The questionnaire was completed and returned by 947 people, a significantly high 38% of the total sent out.  A resounding 60% of respondents were "strongly opposed" to the suggestion of housing expansion by neighbouring authorities and a further 15% opposed.  I think that the message is clear that people in these villages do not want Luton to expand into the green belt and threaten rural communities with coalescence with the town.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but if Mr Heley were to knock on a few doors around here, I think that he would find very little support for his notion of "being in LBC remit".  A lot of people have told me that they moved out to the villages from the town; precious few have ever expressed a desire to relocate the other way and none want to see the developed, urban borders of Luton Borough coming any further west.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

"Right to Grow" is undemocratic

Caddington ward spans six parishes and encompasses a number of villages and hamlets plus a significant amount of green space and areas of outstanding natural beauty.  None of this area of Bedfordshire could (yet) be described as built up or urban.

Caddington and Slip End are already well underway with their Neighbourhood Plan and Kensworth are just starting theirs.  It's a great opportunity for communities to try and shape their future, recognise the housing and facilities needed and a far more sensible approach than allowing large scale urban sprawl to be imposed by others.

Caddington, Slip End and Hyde have a particularly noisy neighbour in the form of Luton, a large town with Coming to your villagemany problems.  Central Bedfordshire have a duty to co-operate with Luton on unmet housing need and efforts are made on both sides of the boundary to find sustainable solutions.  Sadly, some discussions feel like trying to negotiate with the school bully as more and more demands are made.

Ed Miliband's latest proposal is to do away with discussion and negotiation and instead grant (Labour controlled) towns a right to push through development on land within the boundaries of other (non Labour) authorities.  It is undemocratic and a license to destroy the green belt.

Caddington, Slip End and Hyde fall within the parliamentary constituency of Luton South; Gavin Shuker has confirmed that he supports his leader's "right to grow" policy.  Sadly, the constituents in the villages are greatly outnumbered by constituents in Luton and so, as you can't please everyone, it would be fair to assume that Labour are prepared to sacrifice rural areas in favour of high-rises and concrete.  Remember that if they knock on your door campaigning ahead of the 2015 election.

Your Central Bedfordshire Councillors will oppose this madness.  It would be interesting to hear whether your MP is interested in opinions this side of the motorway.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Could you use the lollipop girls at your event?

There has been some very sad news emerging this morning concerning the Winter Wonderland in Milton Keynes, which promised so much but it would seem delivered very little.

The Papworth Trust is a leading disability charity who support over 20,000 people each year.  They had hoped to have a presence at Winter Wonderland but following the serious issues on the opening day have taken the hard decision to withdraw their volunteers and end their association with the event.

The local connection is that a lovely lady, Sarah Eacope, was due to be there with her family run business "The Lollipop Girls".  Sarah's daughter (who has cerebral palsy) had been asked to open the event and then the Lollipop Girls would be selling delicious cakes and treats, with every sale generating a donation to the Papworth Trust.

Through no fault of their own, the Lollipop Girls have had to withdraw at the last moment which has left them with plenty of stock and no chance to sell!  If anyone has an event which could offer the girls space for their stall, it could be your chance to get some friendly, cheerful people dispensing tasty treats and supporting The Papworth Trust as well.  Sarah can be contacted on 01582 457945.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Chaulington exhibition 06 & 07 December

I have received a postcard reminding me of the upcoming exhibition; I expect that every household in Caddington should have received the same notification.

Considering the placement in a rural setting, the vehicle storage site was always going to pose a conundrum when it reached the end of its useful life in its current form.  The original planning permission was explicitly for vehicle storage, so the site remains green belt and a good case needs to be established to allow development.  Conversely, a large concrete car park is probably what most people would consider a brownfield site and hence more suitable for development than virgin green land.

There are also serious concerns surrounding traffic levels along Chaul End Road and the impact of increasing them further.  However, as there are undoubtedly existing problems even before the use of the site is altered, is this perhaps an opportunity to deliver positive changes which might relieve some of the pressure?

It is not appropriate for me to declare as either "for" or "against" Chaulington*, and it is important to note that final proposals and detail are a long way from being locked in.  General Motors and their advisors could easily have gone directly to the principle planning authority, ignoring the local community, and pushed for high density development based on general housing need in the South-East of England.  I am glad that they eschewed such a bully-boy approach and instead have engaged with the community via the Neighbourhood Plan team, local CBC councillors and, of course, public events open to all.

Whether you are for, against or undecided, I would encourage as many people as possible to attend the exhibition this coming weekend.  Engage with the planners, seek explanations and communicate any concerns and, hopefully, the way forward will be an outcome of which General Motors can be proud and Caddington residents regard as more gain than loss.

* I don't think anyone particularly cares for the name "Chaulington", it is just a useful working title.  If any of you are feeling creative, please make your suggestions known!