Thursday, 18 November 2010

Misleading leaflet in Camborne by-election

Today, voters in Camborne will be going to the polls to elect a new representative for the Town Council (North Ward). MK’s candidate is John Rowe and he is opposed by candidates from the Conservative and Labour Parties.

Sadly, Mebyon Kernow have had to request an apology from the Conservative Party due to a misleading comment in one of their leaflets. The leaflet included an “out-of-context” quotation that was in my name. The Conservative leaflet stated:

‘No’ to further building of more homes on green-field sites in Camborne.

Dick Cole MK Leader on Cornwall Council, quoted in the West Briton, ‘protected green-field land on the boundary of settlements can be developed for subsidised homes.’ It begs the question, would MK really oppose housing developments on green-field sites?’

The quotation attributed to me was actually in the Western Morning News in early October, when the Council’s Development Plan on Affordable Housing was launched for consultation. I do not know if it was reprinted in the West Briton. The full extract was as follows:

This week Cornwall Council launches its Affordable Housing Development Plan Document (DPD). The exercise will re-assess where and how to build affordable homes "in an era of decreasing public subsidy."

Councillor Dick Cole, chairman of the panel which drafted the "innovative" document, said it sought to maximise the dwindling number of new sites and encourage communities to present their own small schemes. Mr Cole said this would include controversial "exception" sites, where protected green-field land on the boundary of settlements can be developed for subsidised homes.

As one and all can see, firstly it was not actually a direct quote. I would not have used those exact words but it does broadly reflect the position of myself and also Cornwall Council. But it clearly demonstrates that I was discussing community-supported small schemes and “exception sites” in rural areas, not large-scale developments around urban areas such as Camborne.

Indeed, as the Chairman of the Planning Policy Advisory Panel, I am extremely disappointed that my work, and that of the Panel, has been misrepresented for the purposes of gaining political advantage.

It must be pointed out that members of all political groups were involved in producing the Development Plan Document, which was then fully agreed for consultation by the Conservative-led Council. So, in misrepresenting what I said, Conservatives in Camborne were also actually criticizing the approach of their own Conservative colleagues.

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