Isn’t life ironic!
The Cabinet member responsible for the Environment at Folkestone & Hythe District Council has had to resort to sending in a Freedom of Information request to her own council.
Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) has asked for:
copies of all the advice (including related emails and notes of any telephone conversations) provided by the ecologist (Lloyd Bore) in relation to the clearance of trees and vegetation currently being carried out on the north side of the Royal Military Canal.
Her husband KCC Cllr Martin Whybrow (Green), via the Shepway Green Party website is calling for a halt to work to clear vegetation and cut down trees on the north side of the Royal Military Canal at Seabrook, which as we understand is NOT part of the controversial Princes Parade development.
The clearance of the North bank has begun as the image taken on the 5th March clearly shows. Further work on the North Bank is set to happen this week, according to a letter sent out to residents by the Council. However, it would appear the Council may have forgotten that on the 1st March the bird nesting season begun. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, sections 1 – 4 apply to the clearance of the North Bank, as it does to Princes Parade. Also SCHEDULE 1 Birds which are Protected by Special Penalties, is applicable, as we all know Kingfishers amongst other birds on the list, nest on or very near Princes Parade.
Cllrs have tried to thwart the progress of Princes Parade at every turn. In Feb 2020 and 2021 Cllr Prater, [who like Cllr Whybrow, runs with the foxes and hunts with the hounds], with the backing of the Greens and Labour, moved an amendment which would have removed the required £29m funding for Princes Parade Development from the Council’s Capital programme. However both amendments failed.
It is clear that neither the Greens, Lib Dems or Labour Cllrs have realised there is another useful area of exploration.
Recently, the Good Law Project took the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to court over Covid-19 contracts. The recurring theme throughout the judgement was transparency and openness.
When we exclusively revealed the first contract had gone to the Dutch owned BAM Construction company on the 20th Feb, little did any of the Green, Lib Dems or Labour Cllrs question the openness and transparency of the contract.
Cllrs and residents of the district are entitled to see who this £2.5m has gone to, what it is to be spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded. But we note none of our Cllrs are asking for openness and transparency.
This really does not come as a surprise to the Shepway Vox Team.
We say this because the Climate and Ecological Emergency Working Group, continues to meet behind closed doors and as such avoids openness and transparency.
It has done this for the last eighteen months or so. It’s chair, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) believes environmental information discussed at these meetings, Carbon Action Plan, Green House Gas Emissions, Use of Pesticides in the district, amount of Gas & Electricity used across the Councils owned estate, are so secret you the residents shouldn’t know about them until the working group decides.
This runs counter to the Aarhus Agreement which explains to public authorities how to meet their obligation to progressively make environmental information available to the public.
As we said at the beginning there really is an irony/hypocrisy happening here.
Cllrs and/or the Save Princes Parade Group could seek an injunction against the clearance of the land during bird nesting season.
Cllrs could seek to scrutinise the contract awarded to BAM Construction.
And Cllrs could have meetings on camera so the public can see what they are talking about in the Climate and Ecological Emergency Working Group. After all, it is our environment and we deserve to know what is happening to it.
Whether that be how a contract was awarded, which will affect it, or environmental information discussed behind closed doors, this information about Princes Parade and all other parts of our wonderful environment needs to be set free.
We call on our councillors to stop the hypocrisy, especially those who run with the foxes and hunt with the hounds.
We call on them to stop holding environmental information working groups behind closed doors.
And finally, we call on them to stop doing nothing about Openness & Transparency within Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
The Shepway Vox Team
Calling for Openness & Transparency is NOT Dissent.