Turnout at the anti-NPPF march in Feniton this morning was greater than we ever imagined. The rain held off and 250 furious souls marched in funeral garb, blowing whistles and chanting. The event was punctuated with speeches from Cllr Claire Wright, Cllr Roger Giles, me and finally a rousing speech from East Devon Alliance chairman, Ian McKintosh.
I announced my intention to stand at the District Council elections on 2 May (speech below). It’s going to be a busy 6 weeks.
• We are here today, because we care. We care about the countryside. We care about communities. We care about the legacy we leave our children. We care about East Devon.
• We are not NIMBYs. Although that is a convenient piece of abuse to throw at people. Only those who are fools or dishonest would call us that.
• Let us be under no illusion that the countryside, our communities, our very way of life IS under threat. My village of Feniton is facing three housing developments which, if implemented in full, would increase the size of the village by 40%. That’s almost 300 more houses, whereas the Local Plan recommended just 35 more houses for Feniton between now and 2026.
• But Feniton is not unique. Here in East Devon, and across the country as a whole, communities are finding that their views count for nothing. Today, about half of all the Councils in England do not have what is known as a ‘Local Plan’ in force. East Devon District Council falls into that category. So, if a plan is not in place then, after 27 March (‘Black Wednesday’), what is known as the National Policy Planning Framework, takes precedence. And the one single message of the NPPF, as it’s known, is that Building is Good. Purely and simply … it’s a Developers’ Charter.
• And as if this wasn’t bad enough for East Devon, our poor village of Feniton has hit the national press for all the wrong reasons. Many of you will know former Councillor Graham Brown who ‘represented’ Feniton and Buckerell. It is, I think fair to say, that he felt he had a lot of influence in the community. Just how much influence we saw when he was filmed by the Daily Telegraph, seemingly indicating that he would take bribes to help get planning proposals through.
• But it’s because I care that I’m here before you today. I care that our communities in East Devon are under siege and have been badly served by cynical developers, a Council that can’t get its sums right, and a former councillor who has been referred to the police under the Bribery Act.
• I’m not a political person. I’m not a politician. But I’m a resident of Feniton who thinks she can do a little bit better than Graham Brown. And for that reason, I am announcing today that I am putting myself forward as district councillor for the villages of Feniton, Buckerell and Gittisham at the next election.
Independent District Councillor, Feniton and Buckerell ward, EDDC
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