Swale Borough Council disenfranchises Parish Councils from the planning process.

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09 Jun 2011
Peter Raine, Director of Regeneration for Swale Borough Council has written to the Steering Group formed by ten parish and town councils and CPRE to open up debate on transport issues to say that he doesn’t see the value in continuing the conversation.

He very kindly suggests that should the parish and town councils wish to discuss the matter further that they should do so via the Kent Association of Local Councils (KALC).

This apparently on the pretence that the Council cannot give any one particular interest group a special relationship.

The Steering Group was formed by Parish Councils including Bapchild PC who sought the help of Protect Kent (CPRE) to help co-ordinate the shared interests of a number of other parish and town councils who are affected by the transport issues along the A2 Corridor.

The opportunity for input into the Council’s strategy on transport has by and large now passed following the consultation earlier this year. However the consultation lacked critical supporting material required to formulate any kind of view on any of the Council’s transport objectives. By the time the Council consults input from residents again it will have already adopted its favoured solution and it will be too late to make any substantial changes.

This is why it is absolutely critical that the time between now and then is spent looking in detail at the possible options and not simply proceeding with the pre-conceived ideas the Council has already established.

By removing the opportunity to discuss this matter directly with the Council, Pete Raine has affectively disenfranchised a third of the borough from the planning process.

Our KALC representative Parish Councillor Mike Baldock made the following comments: -

“As the KALC Rep on both the Joint Transport Board and the Rural Forum, I have to say that I find Mr Raine's suggestion that the parishes affected by the proposals under discussion should be represented through the KALC as quite remarkable. The idea that concerned parishes affected by a policy as hugely significant as the Core Strategy should not be able to discuss directly with the Officers at Swale Borough Council on a regular and detailed basis illustrates just how far Swale Borough Council now put the concerns of local residents below those of the Corporate interests that they continually bend over backwards to facilitate. This is just one more example of Swale's dismissive attitude to democracy, transparency, and proper consultation.”