Eco-town campaign goes to 10 Downing Street
A delegation from Communities Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE) went to Number 10 Downing Street yesterday (2 October) to deliver a petition signed by 10,000 people.
They were joined by West Sussex MPs Nick Herbert (Arundel & South Downs) and Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis & Littlehampton).
The petition has given local people another chance to make their views known on the proposal to build at least 5,000 houses on greenfield land at Ford in West Sussex.
The proposal has already attracted widespread opposition from local residents, businesses, councillors and MPs.
In June, around 2,000 residents of Ford, Yapton, Climping, Barnham, Arundel and other neighbouring towns and villages attended a rally in Yapton and then marched on footpaths across the fields where the houses would be built. They were joined by TV presenter Ben Fogle.
CAFE Co-Chairman and Yapton resident Terry Knott said: "We have fought long and hard to persuade the Housing Minister that Ford is not the right place for a so-called eco-town. We endorse eco-friendly housing as much as anyone, but it must have the local infrastructure to support it.
"10,000 people have signed our petition to say that they agree with us. In six months of canvassing and talking to local communities, the only people in favour worked for the developers! Our visit to 10 Downing Street aims to reinforce our consistent message - that we don't want an eco-town at Ford."
CAFE vice-chairman and Yapton resident Vicky Newman said: "Today we hope that the Housing Minister will realise that we speak for the whole community - people of all ages and backgrounds, from towns and villages, business people, those who own their homes, those who rent and those who want better - all of whom the developer has disregarded.
"We applaud the eco-town concept, but Ford is an old housing scheme simply given a coat of green paint. It has already been rejected by our locally elected councils - but it has been resurrected by a private landowner and private developer who see the chance to build on 87 per cent greenfield land."
Nick Herbert commented: "10,000 is a huge number of signatories for a rural part of the world and it reflects the strength of local feeling against the eco-town. I just wish that the Government would listen to the elected local councils and people in West Sussex rather than keep dismissing their views as though the local community doesn't matter."
Nick Gibb commented: "This petition gives Caroline Flint's boss Gordon Brown ten thousand reasons why his labour minister should not be imposing five thousand houses on a beautiful stretch of Sussex countryside. This is clear evidence that the people of Ford, Climping and Yapton are opposed to an eco-town at Ford. I hope this petition will force Caroline Flint to listen and to withdraw this deeply damaging and unpopular proposal."
Notes for Editors
1. Housing Minister Caroline Flint has indicated that she will announce her decision on the final shortlist of eco-towns sometime in the New Year.
2. Last month, the High Court granted permission for a judicial review into the Government's eco-towns programme, offering renewed hope to campaigners against the proposal for Ford.
3. For the website of CAFE, visit http://www.nofordecotown.com/
4. For the campaign blog, visit http://www.nofordecotown.blogspot.com/