Tag Archives: Hoo Peninsula

VIDEO: Protecting our Hoo Peninsula

In this short video, Mark Reckless, UKIP’s Parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Strood, talks about his commitment to protecting our beautiful Hoo Peninsula, a place very close to his heart and to the hearts and minds of those who live in the area.

Mark led our campaign to defeat Boris and his proposed estuary airport. Now that David Cameron has said he plans to stand down with Boris likely to take over, the Hoo peninsula is not safe with the Conservatives. Mark has also forced a Public Inquiry into their plans to build 5,000 houses in a bird sanctuary at Lodge Hill. Every Conservative on the Planning Committee, including from Rochester and Strood, voted for that at Lodge Hill. The Council’s cabinet, in which Mark’s Conservative opponent sits, is now spending your money on lawyers to defend its Lodge Hill plan.

On 7th May, vote for Mark Reckless as the only candidate with a track record of defending and protecting our Hoo Peninsula.

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REVEALED: Vote Tory, Get Boris

Boris Graphic

Only Mark Reckless can stop Boris Johnson destroying our Hoo Peninsula.

Mark led the campaign against Boris Island, and won!

If, as expected, Boris is soon Tory leader a Tory MP here would be whipped to back his airport.

Mark Reckless has a track record of beating Boris.

Nigel Farage has agreed with Mark that UKIP will block Boris as PM unless he drops his airport plan.

On 7th May, vote UKIP to save our Peninsula.

Sign Here To Say No To Boris and his Bonkers Airport!

Mark Reckless welcomes Hoo housing rejection

IMG_5979_edited-1Mark Reckless, UKIP Parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Strood, has welcomed the decision to refuse planning permission to build 475 houses on the land west of Hoo.

Mark Reckless and UKIP’s Cllr Chris Irvine joined local residents in objecting to Taylor Wimpey’s plans to concrete over the significant greenfield site following Tory Medway Council’s complete failure to develop a coherent local plan. UKIP’s Cllr for Strood Rural, Peter Rodberg, who is on the planning committee, voted against the plans but was shocked that Tories on the planning Committee once again used this is an opportunity to push the discredited plans to destroy Lodge Hill.

Speaking of the decision, Mark Reckless said:

“I was delighted to hear the news that the council had accepted the arguments which I and many local residents had submitted against these plans. UKIP is the only party standing up for local residents and opposing large-scale development of our Hoo Peninsula. I will continue to put people before politics, and fight to protect our villages and communities on the Hoo Peninsula.”

Mark launches online funding campaign for former BAE Club employees

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I am appealing for help for a group of constituents who have been left in the lurch by the BAE Club in Hoo. Despite the Club having been managed by a BAE employee, this massive defence firm is now refusing to help past employees of the Club to get the unpaid wages and redundancy pay which they are owed.

I should however make clear that the club was transferred to Medway Peninsula Partnership CIC at the beginning of February 2014 and it was under their control that problems emerged and staff were not paid.

Since BAE went back on an apparent offer to support them, I have been trying even harder to help the constituents involved. Some now face eviction despite being entitled to many thousands of pounds redundancy after 14 years of work. Unfortunately, it seems that they are only now able to receive this if they pay £1,250 to appoint an Official Receiver, but few of those involved have much money after losing their jobs.

I have offered personally to give £100 towards this for them, as well as to guide them through the process as well as I can. I also promised to support a public appeal for them, so if you would like to help, even in a small way, please let me know and I will pass on your details to those involved, who can explain more or donate online at www.gofundme.com/BAEClub

*Please note all money raised will be used to support former BAE Club employees. No money will used by UKIP or Mark Reckless.

Lodge Hill: Statement to the House of Commons

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (UKIP): It is a privilege to follow the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce), who I am sure speaks for the whole House in her moving and compelling contribution.

The hon. Member for Harrow West (Mr Thomas) spoke about Transport for London, and the ridiculous plans of the Mayor of London and Transport for London which no one could do anything about. He gave two examples, one of which was a Thames estuary airport. I am pleased to say that we could do something about that, following a fantastic campaign, which the Airports Commission said generated more representations than any other. I was privileged to lead that campaign with people from the Hoo peninsula and elsewhere in my constituency, but also with people from across the country and beyond, so that on 2 September this year, the Thames estuary airport pie-in-the-sky proposal promoted by the Mayor of London was categorically ruled out.

Unfortunately, two days later, Medway council’s own planning committee attacked the Hoo peninsula with its own threat—a very serious threat—to build approximately 5,000 houses at Lodge hill, a bird sanctuary in my constituency. Two days after we had had the dreadful threat of the Thames estuary airport ruled out, we had this other one to deal with. Five days later, Medway council had to refer the application to the Secretary of State to consider whether it should be called in.

The criteria used for planning application call-ins used to be called the Caborn criteria. Three of those criteria appear to be met very clearly by this application to the extent that a call-in is required. The first relates to conflicting with national policies on important matters, notably the protection of sites of special scientific interest—and, indeed, the whole integrity of our system of environmental protection.

The second relates to having significant effects beyond the immediate locality. It could even have an effect as far away as west Africa, where the nightingales that are the cause of this area becoming an SSSI spend the British winter. There could be an impact on Essex, because the planning committee of Medway council has, in its wisdom, accepted a proposal that the nightingales can be told to go to an alternative location somewhere in Essex. We do not have much in the way of detail, but this clearly suggests significant effects beyond the immediate locality. Perhaps most importantly, approving the proposal or failing to call it in and seeking to nod it through with a green light could have impacts on other SSSIs across the country.

The third criterion is where the development would give rise to substantial cross-border or national controversy. Having been at the centre of such controversy during the recent Rochester and Strood by-election, I can vouch for that.

On 25 September, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government recused himself from considering the application on the basis that he is a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Two days later, I recused myself from the Conservative party and was determined to fight a by-election partly on this issue. Since the Secretary of State recused himself, the matter has been considered by the Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis). He wrote to me on 15 October, and I was glad to hear that no ministerial decision had been taken on whether the matter should be called in. He criticised what he described as my claim that such a decision had been taken.

Of course, that was not my claim. It was a claim made by the deputy leader of Medway council, Councillor Alan Jarrett, in a meeting of Conservative councillors. His statement was that it had apparently been communicated to him by the Government that the proposal would be green-lighted and would not be called in. That led to another councillor present at the meeting, Councillor Peter Rodberg, leaving the Conservative group and joining me in UKIP. He says—and this is borne out by another councillor who has spoken to me, and who remains a Conservative—that at the end of the meeting, after the councillors had been told that the Government would green-light the proposal, Councillor Peter Hicks, who represents Strood Rural, said that they should keep quiet about it until after the election.

It was a pleasure to learn from the Minister that he was dealing with the issue of the call-in properly. He clearly recognises that he is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, and—at least in terms of the time that he has already devoted to the issue and the correspondence that he has issued—he appears to be performing his duties with diligence. His most recent letter was written on 8 December to Councillor Rodney Chambers, the leader of Medway council. I understand that since this Government have been in office no more than a dozen applications have been called in each year, whereas under the last Government about 30 a year were called in, but I am not aware of any precedent for such a letter.

The Minister wrote asking for Medway council’s views, and in particular the views of the planning committee that had considered the application on 4 September, on a number of representations that had been received, including representations from the RSPB and Natural England. Unfortunately the Minister did not attach the representations that he said he had attached to the letter, and, as far as I know, they have not been published. The letter is peculiar, however. It is not clear whether Medway council’s views were being sought, or the views of the planning committee, or both, and it is not clear how any conflict between them should be resolved. The planning committee meeting was, of course, on the record, so the extent to which it has considered—or, one suspects, not considered—the matters that it should have considered should have been made clear either in its decision notice or in the record of that meeting. I therefore question the credibility and reliability of any ex post facto justifications that Medway council may now produce for its decision, and any statement in which it purports to have abided by the national planning policy framework.

Given that letter, given that at least three of the criteria for call-in were clearly met, and given the statement by the deputy leader of the council that the proposal would be green-lighted in the light of communications that he at least believed were taking place within the Government or among those who he thought could speak for them in respect of there not being a call-in, I think it is clear that the safest and, indeed, the only appropriate option is for the Government to call in the application, appoint an inspector, and give proper consideration to what is, in my view, an incredibly damaging application. This application would result in the pulling together of several villages into a single conglomeration, and would cause a site of special scientific interest to be almost completely built over, which would undermine the whole system of environmental protection in this country. It should now be considered by an inspector and then by the Secretary of State, and, hopefully, turned down as a result.

Why I am leaving the Conservative party and joining UKIP

Today, I am leaving the Conservative Party and joining UKIP.

These decisions are never easy. Mine certainly hasn’t been. Many have been the sleepless nights when I have talked it over with my wife and thought about the future of our children.

But my decision is born of optimism, conviction Britain can be better, knowledge of how the Westminster parties hold us back, and belief in the fresh start UKIP offers.

We all know the problem with British politics. People feel disconnected from Westminster.

In fact, “disconnected” is too mild a word. People feel ignored, taken-for-granted, over-taxed, over-regulated, ripped off and lied-to.

And they have reason to.

MPs, with some honourable exceptions act, not as local representatives, but as agents of the political class. Too many focus, not on championing their constituents’ interests at Westminster, but on championing their parties’ interests in their constituencies.

We’ve even evolved a special vocabulary to talk about the way MPs betray their constituents’ interests. We talk of politicians being “brave” or “mature”, “pragmatic” or “realistic”. But they’re all euphemisms for the same thing: breaking your election pledges.

Well, I can still remember the promises I made in Rochester and Strood at the last election, and I intend to keep them.

I promised we would cut immigration. I promised we would deal with the deficit and then bring down taxes. I promised we would localise decisions, including over housing numbers. I promised more open and accountable politics. Above all, I promised to help get Britain out of the EU.

And shall I tell you something? I’ve found that it’s impossible to keep those promises as a Conservative. That is why I am joining UKIP.

I haven’t reached this decision lightly. I’ve been a Conservative for as long as I remember. I have friends across that party, in Parliament and in the constituency. I hope some will remain friends.

I don’t doubt the patriotism of Conservative volunteers and supporters. But I’m afraid that my party leadership is now part of Britain’s problem.

Let me return to those promises I made in Rochester and Strood.

I promised at the last election, as did every other Conservative candidate, that we would cut net immigration from the hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands. The reality is that in the last year 243,000 more people came to this country than left, back up to the levels we saw under Labour.

I’m not someone who is always and everywhere against immigration. It takes guts and energy to cross half the world in search of a better life, and I support a sensible amount of controlled, legal immigration.

But if my constituents are asked to accept the case for some immigration, they want to feel, in return that we are in control of whom we are admitting and in what numbers. And we have no such sense today.

The insanity of our migration rules mean that second generation Britons in my constituency have huge difficulties just

to bring granny over for a wedding, let alone marry someone from abroad themselves, yet they see our borders open to unlimited numbers of EU migrants.

Does anyone, on Left or Right, genuinely support an immigration system where we turn away the best and brightest from our Commonwealth, who have links and family here, in order to make way for unskilled workers from Southern and Eastern Europe.

I promised to cut immigration, while treating people fairly and humanely. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

I also promised that we would make government live within its means, just like the rest of us have to.

Instead, we are adding more to the national debt in just five years than even Labour managed over 13 years.

And two weeks ago the three Westminster parties have just committed themselves to giving every Scot £1,600 more a year indefinitely.

I promised to restore order to our public finances. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

I also promised to put my constituents’ interests first and return power from the centre to our locality.

In particular we promised to do away with Labour’s top-down housing targets that forced us to concrete over our green fields.

Yet, now I find that, under government pressure, our Conservative council in Medway is increasing its housing target from the annual 815 we had under Labour, to at least 1,000 every year.

Despite the promised EU referendum, it is assumed that current rates of open door EU immigration will continue for at least twenty years.

In my constituency that means they are giving permission to build 5,000 houses in a bird sanctuary on the Hoo Peninsula, despite it having the highest level of environmental protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. If that goes ahead, where will it stop?

I promised to protect our rural Hoo Peninsula. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

I also promised to help make government more open and accountable, so MPs would answer outwards to their constituents, not inwards to their Whips.

David Cameron and his government promised to cut the number of MPs, give Parliament its own timetable, offer free votes in bill committees, have 200 postal open primaries, and bring in Recall for voters to sack MPs.

Yet, not one of those promised reforms has happened.

I promised political reform. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

And, of course, I promised to give people a vote on leaving the EU. When I voted that way in the Commons, along with 110 other MPs from various parties, we had three-line Whips against us from all three party leaderships.

Since then, David Cameron has promised a referendum. But I’m afraid I’ve reluctantly reached the view that he is doing so purely as a device. He has already preordained his intended outcome, namely continued membership of the EU on something very close to the current terms. Everything else is for show.

What the prime minister has in mind – it’s not even a secret at Westminster – is modelled on what Harold Wilson did in 1975, a bogus renegotiation followed by a loaded referendum.

David Cameron, and all levels of government backed with taxpayers’ cash, would pretend the terms of membership were radically reformed, when in reality little or nothing would change.

A referendum should be a solemn and binding moment. A reminder to politicians that we work for the rest of the country. It shouldn’t be a party-political trick, a way to paper over cracks, or a way to buy yourself time.

I believe the question now is, not if we get a referendum, but when and on what terms. So, why should we accept terms loaded against us?

In this hall we want a straight referendum. An honest question. In or Out. No fudge, no conjuring trick, no sleight of hand, no fake renegotiation, no pretended new terms. Just a clear choice between EU membership and an independent Britain, trading with Europe but governing ourselves.

Every vote for UKIP, every MP for UKIP, means a better chance of getting that straight, fair referendum. If you vote UKIP, you get UKIP.

I promised a straight In/Out Referendum. I can’t keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

And when we get that referendum, I want us to make the case for British independence in warm, optimistic language. We are not backward-looking or gloomy, still less xenophobic. The only nostalgia I see is the nostalgia of those Euro-enthusiasts who cling to their 1950s vision of a United States of Europe.

In almost every other field of politics, we have moved on. We no longer believe, as we did in the 1950s, that big conglomerates are the future, that the expansion of government is benign, or that economies needed to be planned.

But the EU remains a child of its time, wedded to its five-year plans, its unelected commissioners, its common workplace entitlements, its fixed prices, its corporatism, its lobbying cartels.

That is why Europe is the world’s only declining continent.

It’s therefore not nostalgia that makes us Eurosceptics. It’s optimism. We understand how much greater Britain could be if we raised our eyes to wider horizons.

All of you in the hall already know this. But I want our friends watching through the media to understand it, too. UKIP is a positive party with a positive vision. We believe in a global Britain, prosperous, independent and free. We believe in a Britain of opportunity we would be proud to leave our children.

Before I conclude, I want to invite you to come to my constituency. And I may need you even more than Douglas because Rochester and Strood is not Clacton.

Matthew Goodwin, the leading academic to study UKIP, says Rochester and Strood is not even in the top 100 Conservative constituencies vulnerable to UKIP.

I am proud to represent many ambitious professionals, aspirational families and young commuters. And by the way, if any of you are watching now, I hope you will be voting for me.

In Rochester we have a castle and a cathedral. We’ve a lovely high street full of independent shops. There are French patisseries and Italian delicatessens. We are less than an hour from London and just two hours from France.

Matthew Parris would love it.

But, just as Douglas Carswell answers to his constituents in Clacton, I answer to the constituents I serve in Rochester and Strood.

They are my boss. And, if I want to represent them under different colours, I hope in a party closer to their values, then I should ask their permission.

So, I will resign my seat in Parliament, trigger a by-election and, your National Executive allowing, stand for UKIP.

And I need you to join my campaign because, if we can win in Rochester and Strood, as well as Clacton, and perhaps here in South Yorkshire then we will show that UKIP can break through across the country. We will show once and for all that if you vote UKIP, you get UKIP.

A UKIP which can do for politics, what modernity has done for society. A UKIP which is about hope and optimism. A UKIP which can safeguard our children’s future. A UKIP which believes we are more than a star on somebody else’s flag.

The Hoo Peninsula Is Under Threat And I Need Your Help!

Mark Reckless (centre) meets with representatives of RSPB and Medway Countryside Forum to discuss threat to Lodge Hill

Mark Reckless (centre) meets with representatives of RSPB and Medway Countryside Forum to discuss threat to Lodge Hill

Following the appalling decision by Medway Council’s planning committee to green-light development at Lodge Hill on the Hoo Peninsula, there is now a clear and present danger not just to Lodge Hill and, as a result, other potential sites for development on and around the Hoo Peninsula, but also nationally if Medway Council is allowed to drive a coach and horses through the regime which protects Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) such as Lodge Hill.

WP_20140924_018I am asking you to take five minutes of your time to help me convince the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, to call in this decision for further examination. The deadline is midnight on 25th September 2014.

Medway Council’s decision, announced on 4 September – two days after we successfully won the battle against the Mayor of London’s proposals to concrete over the Hoo Peninsula, will directly destroy 144 hectares of the SSSI, one of the largest losses of a SSSI since the Wildlife and Countryside Act came into force in 1981. The decision is in direct conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Lodge Hill is a protected site and one of the most important ones in the country for nightingales with around 84 pairs of nightingales present on the site. There has been a rapid decline in nightingale numbers, up to half of the population has been lost in the past two decades. Lodge Hill is one of those rare environments in which the birds are apparently thriving, though nobody, including the RSPB, is quite sure why.

It was therefore hugely disappointing when Medway Council’s planning committee decided to ignore expert advice and the strong views of local residents and ward councillors in approving the Outline Planning Application. Particularly galling is the fact that many of the councillors sitting on the committee that evening, none of whom were from the Hoo Peninsula, had already hypocritically stated their commitment to doing all they could to stop homes being built on land at Capstone Valley which does not enjoy the same level of environmental protection as Lodge Hill.

I believe the council’s decision is simply not credible and I intend to fight it.

But I need your help

I need you to join me and thousands of others in writing to the Secretary of State, asking him to ‘call in’ Medway Council’s decision. You can do so in your own words by directly emailing eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk. Alternatively the RSPB has set up an online form which you can access by clicking here.

The future of our rural communities and the unique environment on the Hoo Peninsula is under threat. Join me and act now before it’s too late!