December 3rd 2019
Labour promises immediate review of unsustainable Mayfield Town Housing development plan overturning policies put in place by LibDem/Tory coalition
Labour’s candidate for Arundel and South Downs Bella Sankey has vowed to call in the Mayfield Town Housing development plans citing deregulation brought in by opposition parties as a major factor in this potential disaster for the rural environment.
Ms Sankey has written a letter of support to LAMBS (Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl) setting out her detailed plans to resist the development. In it she expresses her disbelief at the way the plans have been developed saying:
“It is staggering to me that the plans are still under consideration despite the clear lack of accompanying infrastructure and transport links; the real threat of ecological damage and the accompanying flood risk.”
Full text of letter below:
From: Bella Sankey, PPC Labour, Arundel and South Downs
Thank you very much for your email, dated 20th November, concerning the Mayfield Development project. I am wholly supportive of your campaign to prevent the project proceeding and if elected as your MP on the 12th December I would vigorously support Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBs) to resist the proposals. Furthermore, a Labour Government would implement a range of policies at the national level to ensure that ill-conceived, unsustainable, projects such as this is not pursued and that residents are better supported to resist such proposals.
It is staggering to me that the plans are still under consideration despite the clear lack of accompanying infrastructure and transport links; the real threat of ecological damage and the accompanying flood risk.
I have been canvassing across Arundel & South Downs over the past few weeks and it is clear to me that unsustainable housing development is one of the central concerns of local people. I have subsequently researched national law and policy in this area so that I may understand better why such ill-considered and flawed planning projects are being promoted and considered.
As you will know the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government introduced extensive deregulation of housing planning policy via the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework. As the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has observed, “the NPPF – combined with other deregulatory measures such as increased permitted development rights – disempowers communities’ discretion in demanding homes that people can afford, conservation of the things that they value, and infrastructure needed to support their communities into the future.”
The NPPF badly undermines moves towards localism and tips the scales heavily in favour of developers at the expense of environmental, infrastructure and sustainability concerns. It encourages building on greenfield, as opposed to brownfield, sites. Furthermore the Conservatives have in recent years further deregulated housing planning policy and have pledged to go further. The Liberal Democrat and Conservative Coalition Government also slashed access to judicial review, citing housing application challenges as their principal motivation.
The Labour party takes a wholly different approach and our Manifesto and Plan for Nature lay out a progressive and sustainable approach for reforming the planning framework. Our Plan for Nature promises at page 37 to “review all the environmental impact assessments for development consents on land and at sea, focusing on the standards and rigour of assessments so that they can take better account of the wider environmental effects and urgency of the climate and environment emergency.’
We further promise to “consult on the need for different criteria against which proposals are environmentally assessed, including responses to the question, “Does the proposal: disturb protected habitats or threaten protected species? impact significantly on air, water or soil quality? contribute net biodiversity gains? take account of predictable effects of climate change? involve material change to the appearance of the landscape or townscape? affect the number of people exposed to noise or the levels to which they’re exposed? lead to a change in environmental or health impacts of waste management? change the degree of water pollution, water abstraction or exposure to floods? achieve carbon neutrality or contribute to carbon sequestration?”
Following our public consultation and review, we aim to: set a revised framework of assessment quality standards; set a corresponding structure for planning application fees; rebalance the powers of the planning system; improve the quality of environmental assessments; give local government greater freedoms to set planning fees commensurate with assessment rigour; introduce system incentives to consider better the environmental and climate impacts of their proposals
At page 40 of our Plan for Nature we set out our plans to “access expert ecologists and strategic planners to develop revised national guidance standards for housing developments, including flood risk assessments, net biodiversity gain assessments, species and habitat protections, climate change impacts and access for residents to green open spaces…Labour will consult on new planning rules to stop developers building inappropriate housing in high-risk areas such as flood plains. We will instruct the Environment Agency to take a more robust approach to halting planned development where there is serious risk of flooding. We will produce a new national design guide for building housing in areas at risk of flooding, and work with house builders and councils to ensure it is implemented.”
The Labour party is acutely aware of the housing crises and the need for affordable homes. However as my Labour colleague Gemma Bolton observed in her response to you, “there are sites of all sizes across the country which are suitable for the provision of housing. For example the Neighbourhood Plan for Burgess Hill, approved by residents, allows for new industrial facilities along the A2300 corridor to replace the current Victoria Industrial Park which would then be freed up for the provision of housing.”
We believe that solutions to the housing crises must be pursued through appropriate and coordinated development, in consultation with local people.
I would be delighted to meet with you and the LAMBs team to receive background briefing and discuss Labour’s plans further. Please do suggest some times and dates over the course of the next week when you may be available.
Labour PPC for Arundel & South Downs
3rd December 2019
On Saturday November 30th Bella Sankey’s Big Red Bus took to the road to highlight rural bus issues and meet voters in the Arundel and South Downs constituency.
Bella Sankey and her team travelled in an ultra-low emissions double-decker bus, hired from local bus company Southern Transit, and travelled 128 miles to all corners of the constituency. Ms Sankey visited eighteen towns and villages including Steyning, Slindon, Barnham, Angmering, Arundel, Hassocks, Fittleworth, Small Dole and Petworth. Social media content was being updated along the route with many people requesting stops to meet the Labour candidate in person.
Many of the residents in towns and villages had never met or spoken to a candidate before. Bella also popped in to local businesses such as the new store, The Greenhouse, a refill shop on Pulborough, Steyning Bookshop and Fittleworth Community Store.
Speaking after the tour Bella said “Saturday was an amazing day – we toured the constituency with a message of hope, renewal and representation. Too many people have told me they’ve never before seen a parliamentary candidate, never mind their MP.”
She continued “This is a huge rural constituency and many people are left isolated because of the lack of public transport. Bus services have been slashed over the past decade with the elderly, young and economically disadvantaged most affected. My promise to Arundel and South Downs residents is that I will always put you first. and my priority will be to fight for affordable rural bus services integrated with other forms of public transport”
28th November 2019
Labour announces proposal for light transit link from Shoreham to Horsham reducing traffic and improving transport links for Arundel and South Downs
Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Arundel and South Downs, Bella Sankey, has announced a plan for a multi-million new light transit route to take traffic off the roads and relieve pressure points in towns and villages including Steyning, Storrington, Cowfold and Henfield as well as improving public transport options for all.
Ms Sankey says she will commission an immediate feasibility report into the option of creating a Shoreham to Horsham link on disused railway lines once she is elected. The route would aim to integrate cycling and walking access as well. Speaking at the Greening Steyning Hustings last night (November 27th) , Ms Sankey said fresh solutions to local transport issues were urgently needed.
“We need to act now to relieve pressure on roads and improve public transport options for people for whom cars are not an option. An investment in a new alternative rural transport link would make a massive difference to people living in and around Steyning and Henfield. It would relieve traffic and therefore pollution in Storrington and Cowfold. I will work with local people to help develop this plan and then lobby for investment from government.”
Ms Sankey has already announced her opposition or a A27 dual carriageway by-pass around Arundel preferring the more environmentally friendly Alternative Arundel route. She has also promised to support an increase in bus routes with Labour pledging to make bus travel for u25s free.
Labour are drawing on the experience of Bristol and Kent where new rapid transit or tram systems are being developed.
The Light Transit route, when fully costed, could cost several hundred million pounds but will provide a more progressive solution to congestion than the proposed dual-carriageway Arundel by-pass costed at up to £250m.
25th November 2019
Labour takes Bella’s Big Red Bus to the road to highlight rural bus issues and meet voters in one of biggest parliamentary seats in the South
Arundel and South Downs Labour party is launching a bus tour of the 250 square mile constituency on Saturday 30th November to highlight the need for better rural bus services and to make it easier for voters to meet their candidate Bella Sankey.
The state-of-the art double-decker bus, hired from local bus company Southern Transit, will take Ms Sankey and her campaign team anywhere from Steyning to Slindon, Beeding to Barnham and Angmering to Arundel with live social media content being updated along the route.
Voters are being asked to write in for request stops so they can meet Ms Sankey and talk about what matters to them and to ensure their towns and villages are put on the campaign map.
Speaking ahead of the planned tour Ms Sankey said buses were the best way to cover a lot of ground in Arundel and South Downs and are vital to people living there.
“This is a huge rural constituency and many people are left isolated because of the lack of public transport. Bus services have been slashed over the past decade with the elderly, young and economically disadvantaged most affected.
I’ve been out every day campaigning in every part of this constituency but this will help me to cover even more ground and make it easy for people to meet their prospective parliamentary representative.”
Bus services have been devastated by the Conservatives, despite carrying more people than any other mode of public transport. Labour will increase and expand local services, reinstating the 3000 routes that have been cut, hitting rural communities the hardest and will introduce free bus travel for under 25s.
Neil Bird, Director of Southern Transit bus company says things have become tougher for bus companies:
“The most recent cuts should not have been allowed – The Conservatives made a very public statement two or three years ago which has turned into community vandalism of record consequences. Private sector businesses at the chalk face have been as badly treated the workers they represent showing the detrimental effects of cheapest price wins.”
Bella’s Big Red Bus tour will start in the East of the constituency travelling West and the down to the A27 and back East. The precise route will be decided by the public who are being asked to request stops from [email protected]
15th November 2019
Labour accuse Lib Dems ‘cynically misleading’ voters in
Arundel and south Downs General Election campaign
Arundel and South Downs Labour Party officials have written to the Liberal Democrats calling for an immediate apology and clarification of polling figures in its election leaflet accusing the party of ‘cynically misleading’ the public.
The leaflet – being used online and delivered to households – relies on allegedly distorted information from a polling company which isn’t recognised by professional polling bodies to give a false picture of their popularity.
The Lib Dems claim in a bar chart they are the second biggest party in the constituency. But Labour had 23% of the vote compared to their 8% in the 2017 General Election.
The facts show that it is Labour, not the Lib Dems, who are the challengers in Arundel & South Downs.
The Labour Party’s agent Simon Birnstingl decided to take action after receiving several complaints from voters about the false picture painted of the actual results.
In a letter to the Lib Dems Agent for Arundel and South Downs he said:
“I’m sure you will agree that in order to make their voting selection the public should be provided with demonstrably true information that can be clearly distinguished from opinions or other such things.
You are failing in this by publishing your misleading graphics. I must therefore request that you immediately cease from doing so and make a clear public statement and apology.”
The data is compiled by the website Flavible.co.uk which started as a blog written by two Plymouth University students in 2015 and is not a member of the British Polling Council. The ASD Lib Dems appear to have ignores advice available online from Flavible about how to use their information:
” I do not think a single projection of a single seat based on a single poll is acceptable as campaign literature and thus I would completely advice against its use in this way. This is mainly as polls change, underlying demographic data changes and therefore so will our projections. I would urge no more use of our projections in hard copy or not easily amendable campaign literature.”
The Liberal Democrats have been criticised for similar mis-use of data on election literature in other constituencies in England.
Correct Factual representation of 2017 General Election results:
12th November 2019 – A27 Bypass
Labour parliamentary candidate Bella Sankey condemns A27 Arundel by-pass plans as ‘reckless’ amid fears for environment and backs the Arundel Alternative
Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Arundel and South Downs Bella Sankey has announced she is opposed to the current plans for a by-pass for Arundel condemning them as being ‘reckless’ and ‘divisive ‘.
Tory and Lib Dem Arun District and County councillors voted in favour of the ‘Magenta route’ plan for a two-lane dual carriageway to be built on the edge of Ancient woods and the National Park Boundary, cutting through the village of Binsted. Magenta is one of six routes now being considered by Highways England.
Speaking on a site visit to meet locals whose homes and businesses would be devastated by the proposed route today (Tuesday 12 November) Ms Sankey said Labour would put the environment first supporting the less damaging Arundel Alternative Route for a single carriageway, 40 mph road instead.
“The plans under consideration show a reckless disregard for the environment by both the Lib Dems and Tories. The new dual carriageway would devastate ancient woodland, ruin the view across meadowlands towards Arundel and fly in the face of climate change, increasing road transport without any regard for other more sustainable alternatives.
It’s a high cost to pay and would be divisive for the villages the plans affect. A Labour government would force Highways England to go back to the drawing board and consider the lower cost, less environmentally damaging Arundel Alternative plan.”
Ms Sankey is looking forward to meetings with those who support other options to understand their concerns and is sympathetic to the needs of commuters in the area.
“There is a genuine problem with congestion and rat-runs especially at peak hours and I understand concerns about the Ford roundabout potentially getting bigger or faster but with good design and traffic calming measures we can find a solution that will bring the two parts of Arundel closer.”
The plans have already been opposed by the South Downs National Park, the CPRE , Sussex Wildlife Trust and local transport campaign group SCATE.
Emma Tristram, an environmental campaigner living in Binsted, welcomed Ms Sankey’s intervention:
‘I’m so pleased that the Labour candidate, Bella Sankey, is supporting a proportionate solution to Arundel’s traffic problems – the shorter, single-carriageway Arundel Alternative. It shows that Labour cares about local communities, the environment, climate change, and using public money responsibly.’
Labour’s full response to the public consultation on the road project is pasted below:
Contact: [email protected]
Arundel Angmering and Findon Labour Party
to the consultation by Highways England
on the A27 Arundel Bypass
At the end of August Highways England launched a new consultation on possible routes for the suggested Arundel Bypass. Responses to the consultation have been requested by the end of October 2019.
The Consultation Document outlines six possible routes, referred to as the Cyan, Beige, Crimson, Magenta, Amber and Grey routes. (see map at end)
All the schemes are for two lane, dual carriageway roads, with the national speed limit of 70 mph.
Two of the proposed routes (Cyan and Beige) follow alignments close to the line of the existing Bypass. The other four all follow an alignment well to the south of the town. These four routes all involve a bridge further down the Arun Valley, approached by either an embankment or a viaduct on each side.
This consultation follows a previous consultation that was halted in 2018 following proceedings for judicial review launched by local residents and by the South Downs National Park Authority.
The previous consultation focussed on a preferred route which ran through Binsted Woods and Tortington Common. The then proposed route involved extensive loss of ancient woodland, and this loss was the main focus of the judicial review launched by local residents. In addition, the National Park Authority argued that Highways England had only considered route alignments that lay within the National Park, and had
‘excluded from the consultation a route outside the boundary purely on cost grounds.’
Highways England have responded to this issue by including in the current consultation two routes, Grey and Magenta. The Grey Route lies completely outside the National Park and the area of ancient woodland. It would, however, have a major impact on the village of Walberton.
The Magenta Route skirts the National Park boundary, and the area of ancient woodland, very closely. It would have a destructive impact on the village of Binsted.
There is also a longer term context. Previous proposals for an Arundel Bypass with a bridge across the Arun Valley were were turned in 2003 by the then Secretary of State for Transport, Alastair Darling, on the grounds that
‘…the Arundel bypass would cut across water meadows damaging an area of outstanding beauty…’
The view of Arundel from the south is widely recognised as exceptional. Although destruction of this view was the reason for rejection of the 2003 scheme, this issue is not addressed in the current consultation document.
Local organisations within Arundel have expressed differing points of view:
The campaign group ‘One Arundel’ has consistently argued that the existing A27 divides the town in two, splitting the more recent development around the Ford Road from the historic centre. They have now endorsed the Magenta Route.
Arundel Alternative argue for a more limited approach, building a single carriageway, 40 mph road from the Crossbush junction to Fitzalan Road, close to the existing bridge.
Wider transport and environmental considerations
Highways England is a delivery agency and is not responsible for wider issues of transport policy – the climate emergency, sustainability, encouraging the use of and improving public transport, etc. So these questions are largely absent from the Consultation Document.
The objectives of any proposals must include:
Respect for the wider environmental objectives of transport policy, including responding effectively to the climate emergency;
Avoiding the destruction of Ancient Woodland;
Preserving the open view of Arundel from the watermeadows to the south of the town;
Minimizing the separation of communities;
Reconciling these objectives is not straightforward.
Arundel Branch Labour Party therefore responds to the consultation as follows:
Road building should only be considered in the context of an integrated transport policy. Recognizing the Climate Emergency, such a policy should include:
Minimizing the need to travel;
Improving public transport;
Better connectivity between bus and rail services;
More dedicated cycle routes
Any new road should be built as a 40mph single carriageway;
The Crimson and Amber options, which involve substantial destruction of Ancient Woodland, should be rejected;
Although the Magenta option has a less destructive impact on the woodland, it would still have a considerable effect: a dual carriageway road running round the edge of the woods would fundamentally change the environment and habitat.
In addition, the Magenta route would destroy the village of Binsted.
The Magenta option should therefore be rejected.
The Grey route would inflict considerable damage on the village of Walberton and should be rejected.
All four ‘southern’ options (Crimson, Amber, Magenta and Grey) involve a bridge and either an embankment or a viaduct across the Arundel water meadows. In this respect they are identical to the scheme rejected by the Secretary of State in 2003 for this reason.
Destroying the view of Arundel from the South would compromise its historic landscape. These options should be rejected for this reason.
This leaves the two options, Cyan and Beige, which follow most closely the line of the existing A27, and do not involve building a major bridge and earthworks further down the Arun Valley. As put forward by Highways England, these are seen as 70mph, dual carriageway roads.
The scheme put forward by Arundel Alternative is a more limited version of these. It includes some measures to separate through traffic from local traffic. It also includes two alternative proposals for improvement at the Ford Road roundabout, to give better links for pedestrians between the two parts of Arundel.
The more limited version of the Cyan and Beige options put forward by Arundel Alternative is therefore our preferred solution, with the maximum done to improve links between the two parts of the town.
Chair, Arundel, Angmering and Findon Branch Labour Party
16 October 2019
Leading Human Rights campaigner selected as Labour
General Election candidate for Arundel and South Downs
Renowned civil liberties campaigner and new Mum Bella Sankey has been selected to stand for Labour in the Arundel and South Downs constituency.
Ms Sankey, who was born and raised in Sussex, is Director of a national charity and has led many successful campaigns to improve civil rights protection for all. She is a trained barrister and lives in Sussex with her husband and four month old daughter.
She promises to listen to the needs of constituents and secure a good quality of life for all:
“Throughout my life I have sought to assist others, particularly the most vulnerable. Government austerity policies have left health, education, transport and social care services in Sussex ravaged with many people feeling vulnerable and isolated. It is time to reverse that with costed plans to improve the quality of life for all.”
Ms Sankey is committed to protecting the environment supporting Labour’s policies aimed at tackling Climate change and driving systemic change to protect our natural world.
Labour is the main opposition to the Conservatives in the Arundel & South Downs constituency with 23% of the vote in the 2017 General Election compared to just 8% for the Liberal Democrats.
Arundel and South Downs Labour Party chair Caroline Fife said:
“Bella’s selection is a major boost to our campaign to create a fairer future for all in this constituency. We’re very excited to be working with her in the weeks ahead to give voters a strong alternative to Tory austerity and misery.”
Ms Sankey went to school in Brighton before studying Law at Cambridge University and then an MA at SOAS in London before spearheading campaigns and lobbying at Human Rights organisations Liberty and then Reprieve.
Contact Bella: [email protected]