25th June 2021
Campaign Update - 25th June 2021
It will not have escaped your notice that following the by-election results in Amersham and Chesham, there has been a lot of press coverage as to why voters rejected the Conservative Party so resoundingly. Whilst HS2 was a factor, planning and development topped the list of reasons voters gave for their rejection of a Party that has held the constituency of Amersham and Chesham since its creation in 1974. The Government’s planning policies have been blamed by many within the Conservative ranks for the crushing defeat they suffered in Amersham and Chesham. It’s an easy read across to other Conservative strongholds, like our own, where constituents find themselves fighting against development proposals, fostered by local Councils seeking to meet government imposed house building targets. In opposing the development at NE Thatcham, we are not opposing sensible development on brownfield sites - we are trying to save our countryside and preserve the AONB. Environmental and traffic issues are at the core of our objections but the loss of valuable green space and the impact on the setting of the AONB cannot be over-stated.
Press commentary following the by-election results quoted Government sources saying “ministers were listening to colleagues”. We hope our MP Laura Farris is one of those being listened to. She could tell ministers about the impact of the Government’s policies for planning and development in NE Thatcham, the effect it will have on her constituents and the damage that will inevitably be caused to the AONB. Make sure she hears your voice and knows that you are vehemently opposed to this development. A sackful of hand written letters arriving at her office from constituents will be very hard for her to ignore.
The Working Group is preparing a template objection letter with the salient points to mention for parishioners who would like to use it to write to Laura Farris. Please let us know if you would like a copy when it’s ready if that’s easier and quicker for you to voice your objection. Those of you who have already contacted Laura Farris have been sharing her responses. It seems she is listening. She has met with Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and discussed housing numbers, preservation of the countryside and the pressure on public services and facilities in the area. She is in discussion with West Berkshire Council and plans to hold a public meeting. As soon as we know the date, we will make sure everybody knows - this meeting will be a great opportunity to let Laura Farris and West Berkshire Council know just how strongly we feel about the impact of this development on our community and our countryside.
It’s important for us not to get discouraged during this process (it’s often easy to!), but we need to remind ourselves that although our voice may seem relatively small, we are definitely not alone in our campaign to stop these huge urban developments. Action groups up and down the country are fighting similar battles: plans for 2500 new homes in rural Peterborough were halted where objections from residents were ultimately successful, and action groups in East Sussex are currently fighting a proposed development of 3,000 houses that Eton College wants to build on land that it owns at the foot of the South Downs. Our campaign will add more weight to the wider collective campaigns across the country and this can only help our cause and give us hope.
One local resident recently posted on our Facebook page about glow-worms found in her garden and raised the very valid point about how increased light pollution may see these disappear. Glow-worms may not be a protected species and by themselves they are not going to stop the development, but together with all other species that may be under threat, they start becoming more important in our campaign. Have you spotted any rare examples of local wildlife recently that you think may be affected by this development? Please get in touch and let us know!
Leaflets and posters are coming! Thank you to everyone who has volunteered so far to help deliver leaflets throughout our community and beyond. We will be in touch as soon as they are ready to coordinate delivery. Meanwhile, if you would like to add your name to our list of volunteers to deliver leaflets please get in touch! We will have posters that will be posted around the parish, but there is also a pdf available at the top of this page for you to print up your own copy. Please display in your window or a prominent position where it may be seen by as many people as possible!
Donations to help fight the cause, and to help us engage the experts we need, are still very welcome. Huge thanks to those who have donated so generously already.
Account name: Bucklebury Parish Council
Account Number: 01688915
Sort Code: 30-95-89
For reference please include your name or Thatcham North East if you prefer to remain anonymous
Or you can write a cheque, made payable to Bucklebury Parish Council and send it to:
Helen Pratt, Clerk to Bucklebury Parish Council
Reading RG7 6SD
Thank you all for your continued support.
The Working Group