New Romney Conservative Councillor Peter Simmons has come under fire from the electorate of New Romney, The very same people who voted for him just five months ago.
This follows what one resident described as ‘Letting the people of Romney Down’
Cllr Simmons put forward a motion to have 300 new houses to be built on a green field site in New Romney despite almost total local opposition. And a report from Southern Water which highlighted the fact that there is inadequate capacity in the local drainage network, to deal with foul sewage, the same letter which was sent to the council back in March raises concerns that the development would dramatically increase risk of flooding to existing properties in Rolfe Lane.
Councillor Simmons, was first to speak after planning officer David Shore explained that the outline planning application fell within the remit of the councils core strategy which put New Romney as a site marked for expansion with a need for up to 1000 houses to be built on the marsh in the near future. Stating the town was a ‘Primary Strategic Centre for the Marsh, second only to Folkestone’
Before Councillors debated the application, Former councilor David Wimble spoke on behalf of a number of local residents and exclaimed that the development should not go ahead stating that the Councils Core Strategy dictated that their had to be a need for and large scale development and that the application failed this on a number of points, listing lack of doctors surgeries, limited spaces in local schools, lack of sustainable employment opportunities but most importantly the fact that the sites was a major flood risk.
The developers agent then read from a short standard planning proposal before councillors started to debate the first of two mirrored applications.
Cllr Simmons was the first to speak stating that ‘because the planning was within the planning structure laid out he had no option but to back it, then he went into a long drawn speech stating that he hoped that the developer would work closely with himself and that he would like to see a major medical unit as part of the development, including a walk in centre, Dentist, and a facility for existing surgeries to re locate to the site. After nearly 10 minutes the head of planning explained to Mr Simmons that it was not within his powers to dictate such a proposal.
After over an hour of debate which at times got quite heated, with only one proposal by Cllr Simmons being put forward the vote of 8 Councillors for the development and 3 Councillors (all UKIP) against the development.
Local Resident John Harmer told The Looker “I don’t think the council can justify building these 300 houses in the town, the amenities of the town are not man enough to cope, there is a shortage of doctors surgeries, major traffic problems and a lack of sustainable jobs”
Cllr Simmons has come under fire on a local website called Folkestone Vox which has accused him of ‘alleged’ misconduct and fraud over irregularities over his council expresses, something which is now being investigated. a position that the looker remains nuteral on at this stage!
He has not been present at several meetings lately including a recent Audit and Standards committee which he is the chairman off along with the full council meeting.
The Chief Executive of SDC Alistair Stewart told us; “I can confirm that we are investigating some details relating to a current and a former councillor. The investigation are expected to conclude within two weeks. No councillor has been suspended by Shepway District Council”.
Facebook and twitter went into overdrive with over a 100 comments within twenty four hours slating Cllr Simmons.
One post from Peter Franks said: ‘ Who the hell is this Simmons bloke anyway? He is not a local bloke. I have lived on the Marsh for over 40 years and I have never seen or heard of him, I Googled him, he is famous for being almost invisible, he has not achieved anything in his life other than being responsible for the down fall of our wonderful town.’
Another post said ‘Could the last local out of Romney please turn of the light!’
# romneyflooded so Shepway think that we need more homes? where are these people going to work? Simmons you are a disgrace!
When the Looker asked Planning Chairman Clive Goddard for his response he said; “Obviously it is not an ideal situation, but looking forward it is now our job to make sure that the people of New Romney get the best deal possible and I am confident that the planning officers will ensure that drainage problems are satisfied by the developers before a single house has been built.”
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