November 17th, 2022.

Lewes Green Party release:

Local Green Party Councillors have raised concerns at what they say are increasingly toxic communications on planning issues and called for local MP Maria Caulfield to work together on tackling the problems facing the area.

Green Councillor and Parliamentary candidate Emily O’Brien said; “Few issues concern local residents more than the influx of major development targeting precious greenfield sites. But local residents do not want to see their MP playing the blame game. They want to see us all working together to address the problems.

“As Maria Caulfield knows, at the heart of this is a fractured planning system which has lost the trust of residents. And as councillors we can’t fix this alone. We need the support of our MP. The District Council is being hammered by the unfair housing target system, and hammered by the ‘5-year review’ rule; which means that that our widely respected Local Plan, adopted in 2016 and intended to guide development until 2036, is being overruled by developers and government planning inspectors regardless of local wishes.

“For example, we have just seen the decision by our local planning committee to refuse development in Wivelsfield overturned entirely by the Government Planning Inspector. Yet instead of joining campaigners and councillors to ask the government to fix the loopholes, she is choosing instead to lash out, and in her most recent email newsletter once again accused the District Council of being at fault, which is clearly not the case.”

Zoe Nicholson, Deputy Leader of Lewes District Council and a Green Councillor added; “I’ve been dealing with the consequences of Ms Caulfield’s latest email to residents and its misinformation. Her email preys on people’s fears instead of helping them understand the facts. At a time when people should feel like they can trust their political representatives, all they get is confusing messages, not knowing who to trust. We need to stop playing politics with this critical issue and focus on changing our broken planning system.”

Green Party Councillors claim that the most recent claim is just the latest of a number of communications which they argue are becoming increasingly toxic. They cite Ms Caulfield’s claim earlier this year, that the Levelling Up Bill going through Parliament would tackle the widely criticised housing target system, and include a new ‘brownfield first’ policy, which they say was highly inaccurate.

Councillor O’Brien added;  “We are calling for an outbreak of truth and cooperation. What will help residents and our local environment, including our precious countryside, is to put everything into acknowledging and fixing the problems by working together. Our door is open.”

Pictured above: Green Party Councillors Emily O’Brien and Zoe Nicholson
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