Statement from Pam Watts

Marden Planning Opposition Group (MPOG) have received a statement from UKIP’s local election nominee for Marden & Yalding ward, Ms Pam Watts, which with permission, we will relay:

“I have lived in Marden for 26 years. I used to be able to scoot into Tunbridge Wells or Maidstone in about 20 minutes by car (well trained by racing driver husband). Over the past few years this has increased to about 35mins (even he says it takes 10mins longer). How is it in today’s modern world we are moving around slower than we did a decade ago?

I’ll tell you why. Over that time all of our villages have seen unprecedented building by developers and landowners who have taken vast profit (I note Countryside Properties adjusted operating profit for 2017 was some £164m, while the Group Chief Executive’s remuneration was a mere £1.4m), whilst making paltry Section 106 contributions towards infrastructure, aided and abetted I’m afraid by our councillors and planning departments who have failed to push for a fairer contribution

That has meant that us good old tax payers have had to pick up the burden, which would be fine if either central government, Kent or Maidstone councils had directed any of that hard-earned tax into our infrastructure, BUT THEY HAVEN’T

This explains why after 600 houses being built in Marden the improvement to infrastructure appears to amount to …….. one pedestrian crossing at the station!!!

So, you think developers and landowners are going to provide the sort of infrastructure needed for the development of this carbuncle stuck on this side of our historic village. Yeah, sure!

And before we start looking at this, lets drop the “garden village” PR spin. It’s another soulless housing estate to provide overspill from London. Say it as it is. A recent article in the Kent Messenger suggested that 25% of people who will be buying these homes do not live in the UK yet.

A roundabout or two scattered about Maidstone Rd and Underlyn Lane are not going to fix the traffic problems. All 8,000 vehicle movements need to use the A229, or travel through Yalding, Brenchley or Horsmonden to get out of the area, along roads originally built by the Romans (A229) or designed for horse and cart and hardly changed since. Oh yes, and on the A229 they will be meeting HGV’s coming from Firmin’s vast new distribution depot off Linton Hill. Marvellous! Expect another 10 minutes on the journey to either town

Onto the trains. At what point does it become dangerous to pack humans into carriages and expect them to stand all the way to London? Recently, there was an attempt to reduce train services at Marden. Exactly what plans are in place to increase capacity to provide for another 2,000 houses. Are the developers going to contribute to lengthening the platform to allow more carriages? Contribute to improving the line to allow it to run more trains. Thought not!

Village sewage until recently had to be shipped by tanker from Pattenden Lane. A sticking plaster has been put on it which just about manages for now. But let’s be absolutely clear another 2,000 houses will require an entire new sewage system direct to a major pumping station, NOT plumbed into the existing. Who is going to pay for that?

Flooding. In 2000 my house flooded in Green Lane. Together with our neighbours we have invested in flood defences along the Lesser Teise. What provisions will there be to collect and hold back run off from a 2,000 housing estate and avoid it being fed directly into the river during floods, making an already dire situation worse? The junction of Underlyn Lane and Green Lane is unpassable during floods, as are parts of Sheephurst Lane, and of course Yalding. Do we really need another 8,000 vehicle movements during flooding?

Green spaces. The developer IS NOT providing green spaces. Its already green. They are simply plastering houses over hundreds of acres of it. The net result is a REDUCTION in green space. Hello!

Mentioning green spaces, did you know Marden is designated as an area of special interest for endangered turtle doves. Further, ringing by the RSBP in 2018 suggests 80% of Kent’s yellowhammers and 73% of linnets, both on the “red” list, are located on farms within a mile of this carbuncle. (reports from the RSPB are sent to the parish council each year, so should be available).

Isn’t it interesting that we have Michael Gove portraying the Conservatives as environmental warriors, while his mates in the housing department are busy destroying it. With Maidstone recently recording air pollution worse than central London, does 8,000 extra vehicle movements in the borough really make sense?

I have to say this. For over a decade nett immigration has stood at 300,00pa. UKIP have repeatedly highlighted the pressure this placed on housing, infrastructure and services. The answer from Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems was to bury our calls with the slur of being racists. They didn’t want you to realise what was going on. Well, it has come home to roost. 5m immigrants deserve somewhere to live. Instead of providing for them, the main parties thought it was reasonable to expect those who had least to shove over and make room. That is no longer tolerable. We do need more housing. Any minister with any intelligence in government would have set about providing homes for these 300,00 people every year and it could have been planned more wisely. Clearly, they lacked that intelligence and we are now in crisis. In panic, central government seem about to demand Maidstone BC step up delivery of housing from 800 to 1200 units per year. Hence the new call for sites. This is purely the result of rotten government and we deserve better

For all of the above I will oppose at every level this proposal. However, given the edict from central government, it is clear there will be further development elsewhere in the borough. In such cases I can assure you that as your councillor I will devote myself to ensuring developers pay the maximum amount I can extract towards paying for the infrastructure we all need. I will make it my mission. I have been in business for 30 years. I know exactly how the game is played.”

Marden Planning Opposition Group would welcome any similar statements from key parties and will publish any future statements in the same way.

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