31st October 2008
Department of Communities and Local Government
Dear Mr Spooner
I am writing on behalf of the Marston Moretaine Eco? Town Action Group, one of three Action Groups fighting ill thought through proposals for a massive new town on predominantly greenfield land that will destroy three village communities. Your email was passed to us by the Parish Council to try and help let people know about your proposed roadshows. We have a significant mailing list and a website that is about to have its 7,000th visitor.
1. It is unacceptable to this community that you plan a roadshow in our village with 8 days notice. We have repeatedly complained that there is no consultation and that events around the proposed eco? town are constantly hidden from local communities. O&H Properties delivered a series of roadshows (more akin to timeshare sells pitches) over a 6 week period and despite knowing that their leaflets promoting the events were not delivered at the very first event failed to do anything about this and hence virtually no leaflets were delivered and the only reason people knew of the events was through the efforts of the Action Groups
2. You have caused significant offence to members of this community and we require an apology that we can place on the website, alongside the information on your events that we have posted. Also was your information accurate? It states that you will be at teh Forest Centre and Bedford’s Howard Centre on the same day?
3. The majority of the proposed eco? town will be in Mid Bedfordshire not Bedford Borough and hence the nearest towns affected are Ampthill and Flitwick. Why would you chose to go to Bedford for information?
4. It is unacceptable, and we cannot permit it to be the case, that you wish to discuss only the eco? town criteria and leave the site location and detail to the developer. Local communities will make it very clear to you that we have no intention of accepting enforced urban living by the DCLG. Any comments we may have around the criteria e.g. ‘Eco’ measures will come into effect for all property from 2016 and these are significantly more stringent than those for the so called eco-towns? Code 6 as opposed to 3 or 4 for the Eco? Towns – will be presented alongside informed and strong arguments about why no eco? town will built in the Marston Vale as far as local communities are concerned. These include that the 90% greenfield agricultural land site actuals feeds us and why would anyone concrete over that when there is brownfield land for 1 million homes according to the CPRE.
5. If you are trying to just ask about the criteria presumably this is a conversation you will have widely not just in threatened communities? Otherwise there is a danger that you are actively seeking to gather statements that support a move to better environmental house building and then present them, or allow the developer to present them, as evidence that local people support the proposal for an eco? town here. This would be a travesty of democracy as the two items are completely separate. Our communities have already experienced the developers desire to mislead with statistics. You may wish to visit our website http://www.MMETAG.com to hear the Director of O&H admit that when he stated in the papers that a third of people supported the proposed eco? town, what he actual meant was 12 people.
6. You have already been informed that your roadshow in the village clashes with…..the well planned, well thought through and well publicised in a timely manner…. event by the Highways Agency on proposals for the A421. You appear to feel that you cannot rearrange your event – why? Real consultation requires planning, commitment and transparency. Why not take some time to organise something ticks all these boxes rather than none of them.
On 20th September 700 local people closed the major A421 trunk road by marching part of its length to show their unambiguous opposition to these proposals. The following week several hundred completed a torchlit parade in the next village, Lidlington to coincide with the O&H roadshow. Please be prepared to answer questions on developer led destruction of local communities and villages when you visit us as these are the questions people will want addressed and clarification of the DCLG role in the process.