Give us a voice

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22 Dec 2010

Many people have told me they've given up objecting to planning matters because Swale Council ignores their comments.

I had no idea how bad the situation was until I became involved in the Stones Farm consultation process.

Firstly, there is virtually no independent advice or support for inexperienced individuals like me who need help to write a response to public consultations.

Planning Aid, a government-funded body, has only one part-time adviser covering Medway and Swale.

Secondly, the planning department and Councillor Bowles seem to feel it's acceptable to see the planning inspector's report, the public consultation and government guidelines on housing numbers as minor hiccups on the way to implementing their own plans.

Hopefully the law will change to allow locals a voice, but until that time, what do we do?

I would pay for some training, but that doesn't seem easily available.

We need a Swale residents' forum, where we can exchange ideas and develop expertise and some community muscle. Am I alone in thinking this? Are there other people who find the current situation unacceptable?

Kay Murphy

Published in the East Kent Gazette

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