The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Take The Hint Flint!
Posted Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 11:17

The people of Lidlington discovered on Saturday afternoon that Caroline Flint, the Housing Minister would be at the Marston Vale Community Forest on Monday.

One of the reasons I suppose we were all informed so late in the day was in order to try and avoid any organised protest.

The Minister hadn’t counted on Parish Cllr Iain Clapham (in the pink shirt on my left) and the strength of local feeling.

I was amazed when I got out of my car and was met by a sea of posters and cheers. (Apparently, the Mayor of Bedford grumbled mightily about the cheers and became very tetchy!) Locals had been beavering away over the weekend and almost anyone who wasn't at work was there; they came on crutches, in buggies and in arms.

When the Minister arrived she was met by a chorus of boo's and chants, not a normal Bedfordshire welcome, but then we don't have 20,000 homes landing out of the sky every normal day .

I went inside for the private meeting with the Minister and listened to the developers wax lyrical about a Bedfordshire none of us knew or recognised.

I made four simple points:

There is very little unemployment in Mid Beds and as the Mayor pointed out, employers aren't clamouring to build on the brown field sites in Bedford.

The Mayor had already mentioned that Rookery Pit was not a done deal - I pointed out that the likelihood of NIRAH was even more perilous.

No jobs, no growth, why do we need 20,000 new homes?

The developers had done nothing to convince me with regard to the ECO credentials of the properties, in fact, they where decidedly evasive on this point.

Eco or no Eco? Or is this just the first stage of a massive new town development?

If the justification for this new planning process rests on the eco credentials of the application I would have thought that maybe this would have been the one aspect of the developers presentation which could have blown us away, but it didn't.

The people in Mid Beds are very unhappy and to date have been completely excluded from the consultation process. It's their environment, community and way of life which is about to be destroyed.

This new town won't be a development in the distance, it will completely sit upon and surround three substantial communities. To have been kept in the dark in this way and have information withheld in order to minimise the time people have to contribute to the process has been a shameful act and one guaranteed to whip up anger.

The infrastructure in Mid-Beds just can't take this. The M1 widening scheme has been halted, the A421 is congested and with no local jobs available if these houses are built and sold, the new owners will have to get into their cars and commute. What's Eco about that?

The Chairman of Renaissance Bedford - the Government body responsible for delivering the project - said he would wind up the meeting using my four points but with slightly less cynicism.

I suppose if you are unelected and don't represent the people you can be as uncynical as you like, take it away chairman, the people can't hear you speak.

And finally, thanks to the community forest staff for providing water to the protesters, you were great guys!

But the biggest thank you has to go to Iain, his small but dedicated band of helpers and all the people from Marston, Lidlington and Brogbrough who came and stood in the heat for two hours - the developers may not have blown me away, but you did!

Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at:
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

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