It is funny how political parties are prepared to do spectacular u-turns. This is true of all parties at national and local level.
Regarding the Otterpool Park development where outline planning permission has been granted for 8,500 homes on 4 April 2023, and full council must sign off the £80m loan the LLP needs to proceed, all three parties – The Shepway Green Party (SGP), the Folkestone & Hythe Labour Party (FHLP) and the Folkestone & Hythe Lib Dems (FHLD), all used public dissatisfaction to state they were opposed to Otterpool Park between 2016 and 2019. They made promise after promise to stop it, then two out of three have since reneged on their promises.
The Shepway Green Party have stated the strict requirements from central government for hundreds of new homes to be built in our district – a minimum of 738 new homes per year for the period 2019/20 to 2036/37, is what means Otterpool must go ahead. However, in Dec 2022, the government announced they were scrapping the mandatory house building targets for councils and making them “advisory”.
So what have the SGP, FHLP and FHLDs said about Otterpool Park. Here’s a breif reminder.
On 13 June 2016, the SGP published the fact they were opposed to Otterpool Park
Then in 2020, they published the following:
“We cannot stop Otterpool and it would be dishonest to pretend that we could. Indeed, the honest truth is that we never said we would.”
Back in June 2020, we made it clear the Shepway Green Party (SGP) flatter to deceive with regards to Otterpool.
Now that’s a U-turn. Also, lets not forget, Cllr Rebecca Shoob has sat on the Otterpool Board since July 2020.
The SGP isn’t talking about scrapping the Otterpool development any longer, it is focusing on the need for the project to be sustainable. As reported today, 10 May 2023, the SGP state:
“Our goal has always been to promote a sustainable approach to planning that prioritises public transport, cycling, and walking, and ensures that new homes are built to the highest environmental standards.”
Once upon a time they were opposed to the development, now they are in favour of it as long as it is sustainable. The whole point of a garden town is that it is sustainable. These have been the guiding principles from the outset.
But it is not only the SGP who have done a spectacular U-turn, The Folkestone & Hythe Labour Party have done so too.
In April 2019, days before the election in May the FHLP stated:
Then in their 2023 Manifesto FHLP say of Otterpool the following:
Another u-turn by another party who probably make up a Green-Lab coalition in the coming days.
Now regarding the Lib Dems they to stated they were against Otterpool Park, when they said the following on 23 Feb 2017.
That said, the FHLD made it clear that more needs to be known before pressing ahead during the May 2023 election.
We know the LLP has requested the Council increase its loan facility by an additional £80m to £199m to cover peak debt requirements. The current agreed level is £119m -consisting of £44m for land acquisition and £75m for working capital. The additional £80m funding request is comprised of £49m for accelerated land acquisitions and £31m for inflationary cost pressures on infrastructure provision.
The level of funding sought represents a significant undertaking at a scale which has not previously been considered in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), nor Medium Term Capital Programme (MTCP). The increase in the loan facility will require consideration of Cabinet and agreement of the Council with relevant associated documents updated accordingly.
The first time this loan could be signed off by the full Council is, 24 May 2023. Given the SGP and FHLP stance on Otterpool now, as opposed to 2016 and 2017, it is possible the LLP could see the money handed over to them by a potential Green Labour coalition.
If perchance this is what happens, then it would be clear to us at least, that any future statements by the Greens and Labour would have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime