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OTHAM HOUSING: Second councillor withdraws from crunch meeting on Monday

Thursday 9th July 2020

A SECOND member of the borough council committee which could refuse a controversial planning application in Otham has withdrawn from a crunch meeting next Monday.
Labour's Malcolm McKay has joined independent member Gordon Newton and pulled out of the special policy and resources committee which will decide the fate of the 421 house Bellway Homes application.
Massive local opposition has serious concerns about road safety and the fate of the ancient church which will be engulfed by houses.
The scheme is in the Local Plan and unelected officers at Maidstone Borough Council have been pushing for it to go through.
They have also warned that if the applicant appeals, the council will probably lose at a cost to the taxpayer.
Cllr McKay is not as implaccably opposed to the plan as Cllr Newton but felt he might be perceived to have "pre-determined" views. He has previously suggested the removal of a hedgerow to improve visibilty.
Cllr McKay, who represents Shepway south, has substituted Cllr Paul Harper, deputy leader of the Labour group at MBC, at the meeting.
He added: "I haven't spoken to Paul about it, obviously. He'll have his own viewpoint."
The issue has highlighted recent tensions between the unelected senior officers at Liberal Democrat-led MBC and the elected councillors. Some members have accused the council of now being "officer-led".