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Population growth, road problems, asylum system and technology among topics tackled in letters to the KentOnline editor

Our readers from across the county give their weekly take on the biggest issues impacting Kent and beyond.

Some letters refer to past correspondence which can be found by clicking here. Join the debate by emailing letters@thekmgroup.co.uk

The key to new developments is 'small scale, not housing estates', says one reader Picture: iStock
The key to new developments is 'small scale, not housing estates', says one reader Picture: iStock

Stop building big estates

The need for new homes is indisputable and, after 50 years as a town planner, I can assure your readers that NIMBYism is a very real and human response to many development proposals.

What is missing is any intelligent way to close the gap between those who need homes and those who don't want a local environment that they cherish to be destroyed; it can be done but it requires a different mindset from council planners planning where development can take place. It also requires a better understanding of planning and development by those in government or wanting to be in government.

As a prerequisite, it requires planners at national and local level to ditch the outdated mantra that the motor car is an evil pollutant and that therefore any development that requires access to a car must be avoided. The effect of this is that for years new development has happened as large scale housing development bolted onto the side of existing towns so that residents can get a bus (?), cycle or walk to the town centre for all their needs. This ignores the reality that the supermarkets are out of town and just try doing the weekly shop and relying on bus, cycle or foot, just how many bags can one person carry?

The motor car is here to stay and it's not going anywhere so let's live with it and plan accordingly. Once we accept that, we can see that we could plan for a lot of small-scale developments sprinkled across countryside settlements, the key is small scale, not housing estates but a few here a few there, a bit more in a larger village, a bit less in a rural hamlet.

This approach requires no change in planning law but it does require local planning authorities to make their Local Plans match government guidance and have regard to precedents set in the courts.

This would provide work for small builders and developers, who can often make things happen faster than big ones, it would also provide more opportunities for existing residents to move within the area without finishing up on a new-build housing estate. It just needs a change of mindset, no change of law is required.

Bob Britnell

Population growth statistics are nonsense

Having read your article on population growth in Kent (saying it rose by less than 1% between 2021 and 2022) I have to respond in sheer and utter disbelief.

As the county where most immigrants arrive by legal and illegal routes, and seeing the untold destruction of the county with unprecedented house building, it is incredulous that anyone could try deceiving the populace like this.

The government has absolutely no idea what the true population is, so KentOnline cannot possibly have a clue.

Kent is being covered in concrete. The Maidstone to Ashford, A20 arterial main road, extending to Dover, will soon become a corridor of high-concentration residential units and commerce, it is totally inconceivable that all this is for just 1% growth.

The infrastructure is further visual evidence of this, proof of the fact the population has exploded.

We need support from the media getting to grips with the scandal unfolding before us, not ridiculous statistics which cannot possibly be correct, as there is no control.

Leslie Bidewell

Operation Brock: ‘Time and time again, poor motorists have endured increasing delays on Kent’s roads’
Operation Brock: ‘Time and time again, poor motorists have endured increasing delays on Kent’s roads’

Paying a price for ignoring road problems

After reading the article ‘We’re facing three years of Brock’, I was angered (yet not surprised) that even though the government National Highways knew the deadline of additional security checks at ports was going to happen when Brexit happened four years ago, they have made no effort to create a solution to the already suffering roads/road users of Kent to accommodate this.

Time and time again, the poor motorists have endured increasing delays including hours of queuing without proper facilities, closures, diversions and general chaos over the last nine years.

It’s not just the Kent road networks suffering, local economies within the problem areas are also taking a severe battering.

The government has a yearly target of building 300,000 new homes. This will ultimately cause an even higher volume of vehicles on our roads by way of imports as we will no longer have the land to feed ourselves and more vehicles equals more accidents on our roads.

With so many councillors and MPs voicing their concerns about this, why are the government still not waking up and paying attention?

Stack first appeared on the M20 in 1988. The government has many occasions quoted that a better solution needs to be found.

The government was given an alternative suggestion back in 2015 which would keep all exiting vehicles off the M20 whilst still keeping them close to the terminals, which they have chosen to completely dismiss.

For every year this alternative is delayed, it is ultimately going to cost the taxpayers more money.

Brian Marchant

Asylum system is being played

I find it unbelievable that Abdul Ezedi, the Afghani wanted for the horrendous chemical attack on a woman and her daughters in South East London, had been denied asylum twice, but then granted asylum two years AFTER he was convicted of a serious sexual offence - claiming (supported by a gullible priest) that he was a reformed man and had converted to Christianity!

Another triumph for the Home Office, the Upper Chamber that hears asylum appeals, and that priest, all of whom had the wool well and truly pulled over their eyes.

The message to others like him who have their asylum appeals rejected is, commit a serious criminal offence and a small army of liberal, lefty, human rights do-gooders and money-grubbing legal sharks and bewigged buffoons will be falling over themselves to ensure that your appeal succeeds!

If there were any real justice in this country, Ezedi would have been deported.

Bob Readman

Political class will reap what they sow

John Cooper is correct in his comments about our readiness for war (letters last week) but the situation is worse than he realises. The demise of our Armed Forces is accelerating by the day.

Not only do we find that, thanks to absolute incompetence in failing to provide the necessary fighters to make them operational, our aircraft carriers are docked in British ports, rather than joining the fight in the Red Sea, but we are told that our frigates lack the capacity to launch missile attacks on land targets. To this must be added the almost certain loss of the Royal Marines assault ships, Bulwark and Albion, without any plans to replace them. The recruitment of volunteers to the forces has been outsourced, guaranteeing that nonsense about equality and diversity will replace the need to attract those needed to fight.

In addition, the undermining of steel production in the UK by the debacle at Port Talbot is yet more evidence of the massive damage being caused by the obsession with net zero. This country contributes about 1% of the global greenhouse gas total, yet all three main political parties insist on further reductions, at a time when Russia, China and India are massively increasing their production of the same.

As this madness continues the already parlous state of our Armed Forces will be exacerbated by the lack of any means of producing the hardware necessary to fight a conventional war, should we no longer be able to import such due to a world conflict. By constant cuts to the defence budget our political class has been betraying the nation for decades, and the reckoning will soon be upon us, as Russia spends vast amounts on her military in preparation for war. Those who have caused this will eventually find that they will reap what they have sown.

Colin Bullen

‘Political leaders see no other solution than the use of high-power, expensive and destructive weaponry’ Library photo
‘Political leaders see no other solution than the use of high-power, expensive and destructive weaponry’ Library photo

World is heading in a dangerous direction

Is it not time for a call to people to wake up and recognise the dire direction in which this country and the world is moving?

Censorship, hidden and indirect, is preventing challenges to the economic system and the general trend of events. Throughout social life options and choices are narrowing. Such necessities as education, health services and transport are failing to meet basic needs of people.

Our political leaders can see no other solution to the international situation than the use of high-power, expensive and destructive weaponry.

They offer no solution to the problems we face, including climate change that is bringing storms, floods and gale force winds, wreaking havoc within the environment and in daily living.

An even bigger danger is that many in the higher realms of power are preparing for war with Russia. A war that would devastate parts of Europe and could lead to nuclear annihilation.

As people rise up to say ‘not in our name,’ regarding the killing of women and children in Gaza, so should we also demand an end to a system that enriches a few whilst the many face declining living standards and in many cases poverty.

The situation in this country is bad but far worse in many countries worldwide.

Ralph A. Tebbutt

Praying for a miracle after election

The next general election will almost certainly be a shoo in for the Labour Party. But whoever leads the Conservatives, changing the guard won't make a bit of difference to a party that has inflicted so much damage to the nation through their inept and muddled management.

The electorate won't be forgiving by the time they cast their vote for the crass handling of issues including the economy and the increasing number of small boats filled with migrants arriving on our shores.

There is an overwhelming groundswell of opinion that the country needs a government that is open to their concerns and competent enough to ensure they are dealt with in a resourceful and appropriate manner that will bolster the welfare of the nation's population.

A tall order indeed, which I feel won't be realised whichever party forms the next government.

No one is naive enough to expect miracles when it comes to those who rule us but it doesn't stop people from praying for one!

Michael Smith

Technology costs us the human touch

Technology is good when it is useful to those who created it – that is humans.

Tech is bad when increasingly it is excluding person to person communication and service. Go online, use an app or automated telephone service – we cannot do anything without using some tech, even booking a slot at the recycling centre.

Another bank is removing itself from personal service to its customers because the majority use tech to access services. It seems we are contributing to our own extinction in thrall to technology, telecommunication and energy-providing companies. I know of no technology capable of empathy, compassion, comforting and caring. Einstein feared the time when technology would surpass human interaction. Tech has not yet created itself but seems to have created humans increasingly dependent upon it.

It is time to reclaim our humanity, flawed as it is; man the barracks to prevent our further enslavement to technology wrongly used. As a poem in a local surgery says ‘Smile, you catch it like the flu'. Let’s restart an epidemic of human to human communication.

Anne Bacon

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