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The Guildford Greenbelt Group’s chairman Susan Parker will stand as its prospective parliamentary candidate in May’s general election.
She has led the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) since its formation in 2013. The group has raised issues and objections to the proposed Local Plan in Guildford, seeking to get a better and more workable local plan, for more than a year.
GGG says it stands for “protection of our green belt and the countryside, for respect for our environment, and for working in harmony with nature on a sustainable basis, while also being financially and economically realistic, socially responsible and fiscally conservative”.
In its statement in announcing that Susan Parker will be fighting for a seat in Parliament representing Guildford, it adds: “Despite apparent consultation, and supposed reconsideration, in practice the plans for large-scale development are rolling on regardless.
“Developers have put forward proposals for Cranleigh, for Effingham, for Wisley and for the Hog’s Back. Brownfield areas have not been properly considered for development but are being allocated for commercial development instead, pushing housing into green fields.
“This will result in drastic or catastrophic change, and a huge increase in urban sprawl, which is hugely unsustainable. This is why GGG candidates will be standing for local councils.
“GGG is seeking to participate in local decision-making to reflect the views of local people. We represent genuine localism.
“However, it is also clear that the problems within the planning system are not just local. Part of the problem lies within the current coalition government, which is seeking to build its way out of recession on the countryside that we all value. There is no other genuine strategy for economic growth. What is disconcerting is that this view of the “need” to build on the countryside seems to be shared by most of the larger parties, without much foundation.
“GGG feels that no other political party is prepared to stand up for the countryside and the environment, certainly no party with a fiscally conservative, economically responsible slant. It is interesting that candidates for most other political parties are now asserting their interest in protecting the green belt – but all other political parties have been remarkably silent about this over the last 18 months through the Local Plan process.”
Jules Cranwell, committee member of Guildford Greenbelt Group, said: “This strategy has been determined following a detailed analysis of the track record of incumbents with regard to the green belt. The policy of the incumbent of the national Guildford seat, Anne Milton, has been one of sitting firmly on the fence, with regard to green belt matters, apart from very recent pronouncements, in the build-up to the May election.”
Susan Parker said: “The planning system is broken. We need real localism, for local people, so that communities can choose the development that really meets their needs, and not suffer plans imposed centrally or by inspectors on behalf of government. Localism as it is offered at present is just so much spin.
“We have repeatedly challenged the Government to change its policy and to respect our concerns, but we have not been heard. We feel it is time that the Government – and the next Government, whoever that may be – start to listen. That is why I am standing as a parliamentary candidate.
“Until parliamentary seats are threatened, government policy (or that of the opposition) will not change. We are challenging an entrenched system that discriminates against local people. ”