Tag Archives: medway council

Best wishes Ted!

DSC00024_1

Mark has been privileged to serve with Councillor Ted Baker as a ward colleague.

Ted is standing down at this election after over thirty years of service to Medway Council and the old Rochester upon Medway Council. Ted twice served as Mayor of Medway, in 2001/02 and again in 2011/12, and has been Deputy Mayor on five occasions.

Hundreds, probably thousands, of people across Rochester will recall Ted’s kindness and the help he has given to so many people on matters big and small. It is wonderful that Ted’s service to Rochester was marked by Medway Council making him an Honorary Alderman at its meeting on 23rd April. Mark Reckless said:

“Over the past 15 years Ted has taught me a great deal about Rochester and its history, as well as always putting constituents first. I am grateful to him. Many reading this will want to join me in wishing Ted and his wife Sylvia a very happy retirement”.

Getting Strood Moving

WP_20150120_013

Mark Reckless would like to thank the hundreds of people across Strood who returned the survey on his proposed road changes to Get Strood Moving.

The four different measures which Mark proposes to improve traffic flow through Strood gained substantial support in the consultation:

  • 86% support introducing traffic lights at Darnley Arch roundabout;
  • 89% support changes to Commercial Road between B&Q and McDonalds;
  • 92% support creating a new one way Strood-bound road from Rochester Bridge through to Strood Retail Park and Knights Road; and
  • 91% support improvements to the Medway City Estate exit including a new third lane up to the Sans Pareil roundabout.

Having confirmed money is available, Mark will now look to progress these improvements with Medway Council if he is re-elected.

Rochester train station speeding towards completion

Earlier today I was the guest of Network Rail at Rochester’s fast-emerging new station. I am grateful to Sara, Mary and site manager Tony for showing me around this amazing project as it speeds towards completion.

WP_20150414_051All is on schedule for the station’s completion and the introduction of a new timetable by 16th December. This should include two extra 12 car trains per hour during the morning peak with more trains stopping then at Rochester, the fruition of a long-term campaign for me.

Crucially, it was confirmed to me today, that there will be continuing scope for reduction in journey times to London after December.

Some trains may be a minute or two faster from December. However, greater time reductions should be in prospect thereafter, with line speeds potentially being increased as the safety and reliability of the new signalling system is proven.

Trains running 3-4 minutes faster to London would be great for Rochester, the wider Medway Towns, and all the way down the line to Ramsgate.

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.”

Let’s Get Strood Moving

WP_20150319_026

Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, has launched a consultation on his proposals to improve traffic flow to and through Strood town centre.

Local residents in Strood and Rochester have been plagued for years by poor traffic flow through this key part of Medway.

Mark Reckless is consulting residents on the following proposals:

  1. Introducing traffic lights at Darnley Arch roundabout;
  2. Changes to Commercial Road between B&Q and McDonalds;
  3. Creating a new one way Strood-bound road from Rochester Bridge through to Strood Retail Park and Knights Road; and
  4. Improvements to the Medway City Estate exit.

Mark Reckless MP said:

“I have received numerous complaints from residents about traffic problems in Strood, and it is becoming noticeably worse with many drivers sitting in gridlocked traffic. Traffic congestion is a threat to businesses and future investment in our towns, and has a direct impact on the quality of life for local residents.

Councillors on Medway Council’s planning committee recently approved plans which will see the existing slip road into Strood Retail Park, despite my objections, removed, which is only likely to exacerbate the situation.

We now need urgent action to get Strood moving. Over the coming weeks I will be consulting residents in Strood and Rochester on a number of proposals aimed at easing congestion and cutting journey times to and through Strood.

I would urge all residents and people who travel through Strood to take part in my consultation to ensure we have a road system in Strood which works for and not against local residents and businesses.”

Have Your Say

Please complete the web form below to have your say on which of the following ideas you support:

map

1: Introduce traffic lights at Darnley Arch roundabout. Rush hour queues to the A228 roundabout at its junction with Darnley and Northcote Roads are unacceptably long. Following works at Darnley Arch, the next step could be to replace the current roundabout with a crossroads junction controlled by traffic lights to improve traffic flow.

2: Changes to Commercial Road between B&Q and McDonalds. Traffic currently flows poorly where two separate lanes of traffic enter Commercial Road opposite B&Q. One lane, which is London or Cuxton bound from Rochester, meets one turning right from Strood High Street. Traffic need not merge at that point, as Commercial Road has two lanes, but vehicles often stop as it they need to merge. This worsens Rochester bound queues that can stretch back up the A2 in Strood beyond the 30mph signs and Woodstock/Castle View Roads junctions. Changes could also cut queues in Rochester on the A2 and Esplanade.

A physical lane divider as vehicles enter Commercial Road could therefore improve traffic flow. Better road marking to show that both A2 and A228 traffic can then use the left lane could also help, as could extending the third filter lane for A228 traffic turning left. However, these changes could probably only be implemented if we were to remove one of the three pedestrian crossings we currently have on this 200 yard stretch of road.

3: New one way Strood-bound road from bridge to B&Q and Morrisons car parks. There are almost constant delays on the A2 from Rochester bridge through to Knight Road. One way to relieve those delays would be to divert traffic heading to the Retail Park or to Morrisons onto the left filter road previously used to access the now demolished Strood Civic Centre. That road could potentially be extended around the current car park there, through the railway arch, and onto the road that runs between the Strood Retail Park and Morrisons car parks. We could then install traffic lights to improve traffic flow where that new one-way new road met Knight Road.

4: Medway City Estate exit improvements. In the near term a third lane exiting Medway City Estate, along with traffic lights some distance back on the Gillingham side of the tunnel to ensure gaps in traffic, should help reduce afternoon queues to leave the estate. Senior council officers also now appear to have agreed the proposal by Mark Reckless to build a new third lane for Strood-bound traffic from the Estate up to the Sans Pareil roundabout. We may not then need to open the Canal Road exit to vehicles other than buses.

Campaign success as Lodge Hill ‘called in’

Medway Council’s support for Lodge Hill and concreting over a bird sanctuary to build 5,000 houses played a key part in my decision to leave the Conservative Party and join UKIP. The Conservative Council’s plans, supported by both Labour and the Lib Dems have now, after months of our campaigning, been stopped in their tracks.

In an extremely welcome announcement today, acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, the Department of Communities and Local Government has decided to ‘call in’ Medway Council’s decision – see letter below. This means Lodge Hill cannot proceed pending a full Public Inquiry. In particular, this will consider how on earth Medway Council could possibly think it right to approve Lodge Hill when the National Planning Policy Framework states “proposed development on land within a Site of Special Scientific Interest should not normally be permitted”.

I am absolutely delighted at this news. It is a remarkable win for all of us who oppose destruction of this special site following its designation as an SSSI. I believe this is a vindication of my decision to call a by-election and put Lodge Hill at the forefront of my campaign, putting the environmental devastation that would have resulted from the Council’s decision at the centre of national debate.

Today is a very big victory, but I will not rest until we have won the war and defeated Medway Council and its Lodge Hill development at the Public Inquiry.

CallIn1

CallIn2

CallIn3

CallIn4

 

Campaign success as elderly get crossing

2Mark Reckless MP can announce that elderly residents are to get a new zebra crossing at Hollywood Lane, Wainscott. The crossing will be located at the entrance to Greenfields Close – which is sheltered housing for the elderly.

The campaign calling on Medway Council to install a crossing was started five years ago by local resident Jean Lawrence. Mrs Lawrence started the campaign due to the difficulties that local people were having leaving their homes – with several elderly residents refusing to leave their houses due to the danger the road posed to them.

Jean contacted local UKIP Councillor Peter Rodberg who began to work with Jean to push for the council to install the crossing. When they contacted Mark Reckless, and he threw his weight behind the campaign, they finally got a result.

Greenfields residents were delighted with the news, with one saying it was “fantastic” that they would finally be getting the crossing they needed. They thanked Jean, Peter and Mark for their hard work, as Mark introduced them to the Medway Council officers who would make the crossing a reality.

4Jean Lawrence said:

“I’m ecstatic – you have no idea how much a difference that a crossing makes to all of us here in Greenfield Close. It will allow us to be able to come and go like we haven’t been able to before. I’d like to thank both Mark and Peter for supporting my campaign and I’m just so pleased that Medway Council have agreed to finally install the crossing.”

Mark Reckless added:

“This is a fantastic result. It is a great feeling when you are able to help local residents get exactly what they need. It goes to show just what a difference local people can make in their community. It was a project with which I was delighted to help and I would like to congratulate Jean – all of her hard work has paid off.”

There will be a period of formal consultation in March with construction due to start in June.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Roch14i

Just over a month ago, the voting public of Rochester and Strood made history when I was re-elected as UKIP’s second Member of Parliament. Since then I have worked as hard as I can to represent you as your Member of Parliament, focusing particularly on our local NHS, improving education for our children, getting Strood moving, and stopping the Lodge Hill development.

Regardless of whether or not you personally voted for me, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I know that 2014 has been a difficult year for many in my constituency and the coming year holds similar challenges. I am however confident that, with UKIP continuing to lead the local and national debate, our best days lie before us. I am grateful for the support which so many of you provided during the recent by-election. It is very much appreciated.

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.

MP raises concerns over Strood retail park proposal

Commercial Road Image courtesy of Google Maps

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Mark Reckless has lodged an objection to proposals to remove the slip road onto Strood retail park as part of plans to demolish and replace the current B&Q site.

The proposals which are being considered by Medway Council’s planning department would see the current B&Q site, known formally as Unit C, demolished to make way for three smaller units which would extend out closer to the existing highway and over the current slip road.

Strood town centre is already one of the most heavily congested areas in the whole of Medway. Mark Reckless is concerned that removing the current slip road on Commercial Road and forcing all traffic to access the retail park via Knights Road will only serve to increase traffic congestion in and around Strood. Mark has formally lodged an objection to the planning application.

Speaking of his concerns, Mark Reckless said:

“Commercial Road is already a well known pinch point for traffic in and around Strood. I am very concerned about the potential for increased congestion in this part of Medway which the removal of the current slip road onto the retail park will most likely create.

We need a long term vision to tackle the traffic problems affecting Strood. These impact negatively on residents and businesses in the area alike. I cannot support the Strood retail park proposals as they currently stand and I urge all local residents to join me in objecting to the plans. We want to help get Strood moving in the right direction, not risk making congestion worse.”

To register your objection to the proposals, email planning.representations@medway.gov.uk quoting MC/14/3317 in the subject field.