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HOUSING CRISIS: Why was our letter not answered? - council leader Martin Cox

Thursday 11th June 2020

A POWERFUL cross-party letter asking the government to review the way it calculates house-building numbers in Maidstone has not been answered six months after it was sent, it was claimed this morning.

The letter was sent after pressure from the Conservative opposition group leader on the borough council Cllr John Perry following outcry over the imposition of up to 28,000 new houses by central government.

But the secretary of state has yet to acknowledge the missive, which was signed by most political group leaders at borough and county level and MPs.

After an intervention by MP Helen Grant, it was reported that civil servants claimed they had not received the letter.

Now the Liberal Democrat leader of Maidstone Borough Council Cllr Martin Cox has written a further letter to Robert Jenrick MP, The Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, about the lack of response.

He said: "We have now been waiting since January for a response from your department. This topic is of very significant interest to not only MBC but the public across the borough and the media. The lack of any response is wholly unacceptable."

The original letter formally expresses concerns around the government’s methodology for setting housing targets for each Council and it also raises four specific ‘asks’ for the Secretary of State to consider.

Cllr Cox has been criticised for promoting housing schemes such as the controversial 5,000 home scheme at Lenham Heath, of which MBC is styling itself as the "master developer", while asking the minister for a fresh look at the 10,600 extra houses pencilled in on top of the 17,600 in the Local Plan.

The area's Conservative MPs may face further pressure from constituents and party members if the government fails to listen to a growing people's rebellion.

Local people are becoming increasingly hostile to the idea of mass house-building without any plan for roads and public services to support the massive influx of newcomers.