Joint Statement from Independent Councillors Mick Pendergast and Ron Sands


Local Plan Withdrawl puts ‘Medway in Jeopardy’ and ‘on the Road to Ruin’

At the recent Medway Council Cabinet meeting it was agreed unanimously by the Cabinet members to accept the recommendation to present the draft Regulation 19 Local Plan for debate by the full Medway Council.

The draft Local Plan as presented was hailed by Councillor Rodney Chambers as “Our ambition for the future of Medway”.

Councillor Potter confirmed he was “happy to support the recommendation” stating “This is a key piece of local policy”. It is “Ultimately about putting our destiny back in our hand”. He continued that “Without it, it is a road to ruin”.

The draft local plan has now been removed from the Council agenda with Planning Portfolio Holder Jane Chitty stating it is to ensure members have the full suite of all documentation relating to the draft plan.”  

This begs the question, given Councillor Chitty’s comments when presenting said recommendation to Cabinet, why was the draft plan as presented by the Portfolio Holder incomplete?

Councillor Chitty clearly set out the Council’s responsibilities saying

“I want to explain a little about the local plan process. The process has been laid out by consecutive governments. We have to comply with that process. So everything we do as a local authority, and this applies to everyone has to reflect what government has sought from us and that is an irrefutable fact.”

Cllr Chitty then went on to stress the need for compliance

“The reason I am pushing about complying with government requirements, the first thing the Inspector will do is measure Government requirements and what this authority has done to comply and I have to say with absolute honesty if we had missed out on one of those compliances it would fall at the first hurdle and we cannot allow that to happen.” 

She continued

“It will put the whole of Medway in jeopardy in a number of different ways.”

There can be no doubt about the emphasis Medway Council has placed on the compliance requirement. 

Councillor Chitty confirmed “compliance has to be the key word. And we have actually employed people to check and double check to ensure that that compliance is fully understood.”

In light of the Portfolio Holder’s own words, it is clear she has failed manifestly by presenting an incomplete document that likely “would fall at the first hurdle”.

 This failure has dire consequences and by her own admission puts “the whole of Medway in jeopardy”. 

Commenting on the draft plan, Councillor Pendergast said “Not only is it incomplete it contains glaring and obvious errors which makes you wonder if the Cabinet members actually read it” He continued “Mass replacement of the Cabinet would do more harm than good but each cabinet member should take a long hard look at themselves.”

Councillor Sands, who opposes unsustainable development anywhere in Medway, not just on the Peninsula, suggested people could no longer have any confidence in the Planning Portfolio holder stating “Councillor Chitty should seriously consider her position not just as a Portfolio Holder but also as a Councillor” adding “Whether she remains in post in light of everything that has happened is ultimately a question for the Leader of the Council. This is a defining moment for his leadership.” 

Cllr Pendergast Cllr Sands