Arundel residents voice strong concerns about Ford eco-town
Local residents packed into Arundel Town Hall on Monday evening (19 May) to voice their concerns at the proposal to build an eco-town at Ford.
Around 200 people attended the meeting to hear a presentation from local campaign group Communities Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE).
CAFE Co-Chairman and Yapton resident Terry Knott explained how residents of Ford, Yapton, Climping and Arundel had come together to form the campaign group, backed by Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert and Bognor Regis & Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb.
Yapton resident and CAFE vice-chairman Vicky Newman, a local surveyor, explained the full extent of the eco-town proposals. She described how the new town would engulf the villages of Ford, Yapton and Climping. Mrs Newman pointed out that 87 per cent of the site consists of prime agricultural ‘greenfield' land.
Arundel resident and CAFE transport expert Derek Waller described the lack of transport infrastructure to support a large new development at Ford. He said the construction of 5,000 houses at Ford would increase congestion on the local road network, including the A27 and A259. Mr Waller reminded the audience that a bypass for the A27 at Arundel would not be completed until 2018 at the earliest, long after the construction of new houses at Ford, and there was no money set aside for it anyway.
Climping resident and CAFE campaigner Geoff Dixon, who is also a Management Consultant specialising in employment matters, expressed his doubt that enough new jobs would be created at Ford to meet the needs of an eco-town population. He said that, even if 4,000 jobs were created, this would fall far short of the number of jobs required. He described the proposal for a science and technology park as a "fantasy", due to the lack of academic facilities in the district.
Terry Knott called on local residents to lend their support to CAFE by signing the petition, writing to the Government, donating to the campaign and displaying a poster. He also urged residents to take part in the march and rally at Yapton Village Green on Saturday 7 June at 10am.
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert was unable to attend as the Commons was sitting, but he sent a message of support which was read out at the meeting.
In his message, Mr Herbert said: "I am particularly sorry not to be able to attend this evening's meeting. The Commons sits until 10pm on Monday evenings, and we have important votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill tonight.
"I would like the meeting to know that I am strongly opposed to an eco-town at Ford. In my view this development would place an even greater strain on local services and infrastructure; it would deprive Bognor and Littlehampton of much-needed investment, and it would undermine the local planning process and in turn local democracy."
The audience were also given an opportunity to hear arguments in favour of an eco-town from developer sponsors of the Ford Enterprise Hub. Their views on the issue were greeted with considerable scepticism by local residents who voiced several hostile questions at the end of the meeting.
Mr Knott commented: "I was delighted to see so many people at the meeting to hear both sides of the argument. From a show of hands, it was very clear that the residents of Arundel agree with the views of CAFE and we had numerous pledges of support on the night. With the direct involvement of the people of Arundel, I feel sure that our campaign against the proposed new town will go from strength to strength."
The meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor of Arundel Anne Harriott who commented: "It was a very successful meeting and I was pleased to see such a good turnout. The Town Council now knows the views of local people and can join the fight against development at Ford."
Notes for Editors
1. For the website of CAFE, visit http://www.nofordecotown.com/
2. The consultation paper issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), entitled ‘Eco-towns: Living a Greener Future', can be viewed at http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/livinggreenerfuture.pdf
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)
4. The consultation ends on 30 June 2008.
5. For further details of the Ford eco-town proposal, visit www.arun.gov.uk/ecotown