The political system in Shepway is not working. Whoever you vote for, the same people win, because where power claims to be is not where power is.
Shepway District Council embody paralysed force, gesture without motion, as the real decisions about Otterpool Park are taken elsewhere: by the money, for the money. Shepway has actively conspired in this shift, negotiating a planning collaboration agreement with the owners of Folkestone Racecourse behind their voters’ backs to prevent democracy from controlling corporate/private capital.
Unreformed political funding ensures that Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association have to listen to the rustle of notes before the bustle of votes. In Shepway these problems are compounded by an electoral system that ensures most votes don’t count. This in part is why the Electoral Reform Society openly state that the one party council of Shepway is more likely to be corrupt.
Allegations of corrupt payments to Shepway District Councillors is nothing new.
All this happens because Cllrs and Council Officers are doing almost everything behind closed doors (items 5 & 6) when it comes to Otterpool Park development.
On 8 June 2016 Shepway District Council Cabinet, behind closed doors, (items 8 & 9) as the discussion was of a commercial nature.
Resolved: To receive and note report C/16/09.
1. To authorise the Corporate Director – Strategic Operations, Dr Susan Priest in consultation with the Leader of the Council, to finalise the terms of and enter into a planning collaboration agreement with the owners of Folkestone Racecourse ( The Reuben Brothers, below) to regulate the working arrangements between the parties as land owners and promoters with an objective of securing a suitable outline planning permission for a new garden town.
(The Reuben Brothers – The Richest men in Britain according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016)
2. To authorise the Corporate Director – Strategic Operations, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, to finalise the terms of and enter into any option agreements with other land owners within the area of search that are considered necessary to deliver the Councils ambition for a new garden town.
3. To note that a further, more detailed, development agreement is proposed between the Council and the owners of Folkestone Racecourse and to authorise the Corporate Director – Strategic Operations to negotiate that agreement in the best interests of the Council with further report being presented to Cabinet prior to the agreement being entered into.
4. To agree an initial landowner promoter budget in order to fund relevant activities of up to £1m in the first instance to be funded from the appropriate reserves with delegated authority to the Section 151 Officer in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance to approve the funding source.
Parish Cllrs across the District have stated that there has been no transparency when it comes to the development of Otterpool Park. Local Residents are saying the same. It is a tireless job to get SDC to become more open and transparent. Do you think it is possible? We’ll leave you to decide that.
We at Shepwayvox will not stop calling for transparency and accountability, even though from time to time it does makes us feel like bashing our heads against our computers.