Eco-town campaigners to lobby Parliament
Campaigners fighting the proposal for an ‘eco-town’ at Ford will lobby Parliament next week (30 June).
A delegation from Communities Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE) will make the journey to London to make their views known on the proposal to build at least 5,000 houses on greenfield land at Ford in West Sussex.
They will be met by West Sussex MPs Nick Herbert (Arundel & South Downs) and Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis & Littlehampton).
Developers, who originally claimed that the site was brownfield land, have been allowed to bypass local councils and normal planning procedures under the Government's eco-town plans.
Ford is one of 15 sites shortlisted by the Government and CAFE will be joined in Westminster by representatives of other groups campaigning against eco-towns.
The parliamentary lobby will be followed by a meeting at the House of Commons where a panel of speakers, including MPs representing constituencies affected by eco-town proposals, will be invited to air their views. Housing Minister Caroline Flint has been invited to the meeting.
During their visit to the Capital, CAFE will also present their formal submission to the Government's consultation on eco-towns at the offices of the Department for Communities and Local Government.
CAFE Co-Chairman and Yapton resident Terry Knott said: "In 8 short weeks, nearly 10,000 people have marched and signed our petition to protest against the so-called ‘eco-town' at Ford. On Monday, a small delegation from CAFE will be taking our campaign to Westminster; taking part in a parliamentary lobby alongside other groups opposing eco-towns. This is democracy in action. We need and want ‘green' houses, but we ask that local planners decide where and how."
Yapton resident and CAFE vice-chairman Vicky Newman, a local surveyor, said: "We want to reinforce the need for our local planners to decide the future of our districts as they have an in-depth and balanced understanding of the local economy and spatial strategy for Arun. Local councils should be designating land use not Whitehall. This is compulsory planning, not democratic discussion."
Bognor Regis & Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb said: "This lobby will send an important message to Caroline Flint that there is widespread concern from all parts of the country, that important decisions over where to build new housing are being taken out of the hands of local councillors by central government. If local democracy is to have any real meaning we must oppose this approach to decision making."
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert commented: "This will be a good opportunity for CAFE to raise the profile of their campaign nationally. I hope the Government will listen to them very carefully and drop Ford from the final shortlist."
Notes for Editors
1. Campaigners will meet on College Green (Abingdon Street) opposite the Houses of Parliament at 11.30am and spokespersons will be available for media interviews from 12.00.
2. For the website of CAFE, visit http://www.nofordecotown.com/
3. Members of the public wishing to take part in the consultation can write to: Eco-towns Team, Housing and Growth Programmes, Communities and Local Government, 2/H9 Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). The consultation ends on Monday 3 June.