Last August, Jack Cade summoned Kirton & Falkenham Parishioners to a meeting where it became apparent few of us knew much about what was being planned for our community. This led to the formation of the Kirton & Trimley Community Action Group (KATCAG) and several of us have been on an ‘extreme’ learning curve ever since!
Since August, several members of the Steering Group have invested hundreds of hours informing ourselves about the issues, In order to guide our Community, but we are now writing to advise we have reached a crisis point and, if we don’t receive the help we are asking for at this point in time, there is a real risk the Campaign will falter and fail at the very point when success is a perfectly realistic expectation. We’re hoping our KATCAG Champions will rise to the challenge!
Dealing with the bad news first, we have tried hard to understand the many complex issues facing us in order to give people a steer. However, we are lay people and it was inevitable we would make mistakes along the way. The good news is we all make mistakes, but most of them are recoverable!
Our main mistakes have been:
1. We should have anticipated a huge loss of morale after the Council approved its Local Plan on 3rd January. For us, it was totally inevitable they would do so and we saw it only as the start of the ‘real’ battle ahead. In the event, we were too close to the action and had not foreseen the effect on others.
2. At a KATCAG Champions meeting, we proposed the idea of putting forward our own District Councillor candidates for election who, if successful, could be expected to review the Local Plan before it hits the Inspector’s table. Whilst the principle remains sound, we have progressed better and more practical options since then and there was clearly no appetite for this idea. We feel we should have foreseen that being the case, as it may have put some people off supporting us.
3. We thought it would be possible to explain the concept of “soundness” to people at a public meeting, but we failed miserably and consider the meeting failed in its objective. Fortunately, we were left with time to publish our own skeleton response and feedback suggests this was far better received.
4. We completely under-estimated the difficulties we would have raising funds
We have taken steps already to correct most of our failings. This said, you may consider we have made other errors, in which case, it may not be too late to remedy these too, so please tell us. Moving on, though, it is important we share with you some important realities, both positive and negative
* The documentation submitted to the Inspector is both compelling and powerful. We are not misleading anyone, nor is it an attempt to boost morale when we tell you there is every chance of a good outcome at the Inspectors Hearing in June
* The chances of a good outcome probably double if we employ the skills of Zach Simons, a highly-regarded ‘planning’ barrister, rather than rely on a member of the Steering Group to present our case. No Steering Group member has the knowledge, nor the ability, to argue points of law.
* There are things we can do in the next 6 weeks that can make it possible to use Zach
* At this moment, there is a considerable funding shortfall, but we believe it can be made up
* We can’t make anything happen on our own – we know what to do, but we need lots of help to do it
One further matter of importance was discussed at this week’s Steering Group meeting. Prior to the meeting our colleague Ryan, who was unable to attend the meeting, had warned of the need to ensure KATCAG did not lose support through its association with the election campaign being run by Sherrie Green and myself. Because I was concerned about this possibility, I offered to hand over the reins as leader of KATCAG.
As a result of an uncontentious and open discussion, the following points were considered important:
* KATCAG has to be concerned, in the main, with the interests of the Trimley Villages, Kirton, Falkenham and Bucklesham
* Nonetheless, it was recognised Sherrie and I do have to involve ourselves with the concerns of Waldringfield, Nacton, Levington and Stratton Hall residents, as well
* This was not felt to give rise to any kind of conflict, as she and I will be running an environment-based campaign, centred on local issues, based on values that KATCAG has been promoting for many months now
* With these considerations in mind, I was asked to continue leading KATCAG, which I’m happy to do subject to your endorsement (see below)
* Further, it was felt all campaign groups seek to support influencers who are committed to their agenda and KATCAG has been no exception, to date
* It seemed inconsistent and would be rather strange if KATCAG did not offer its support to a local campaign, directly in line with its interests, simply because of my personal involvement in both camps.
* We felt it important to pursue any course where there is a possibility of obtaining influence in the future, where it matters.
* This said, we felt we need to be totally transparent in respect of money and it has to be made clear (not least to satisfy the Electoral Commission) that not a single penny of KATCAG’s funds will be provided for Sherrie’s and my campaign
Whilst, we were all agreed on these points, we’ve owned up already to our capacity to make mistakes, and we wish to avoid making another. I have made clear to my colleagues I remain willing to step down from the Steering Group, if that is thought appropriate by the KATCAG Champions. It would not diminish my 100% commitment to our campaign, so please write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a view you would like to express.
Whatever your view, if you’re happy to continue helping KATCAG, then I have to say we badly need your help. In which case, please attend a meeting this coming Monday when we will spell out exactly what we want to ask of you! Also, please bring a friend if they are willing to lend a hand.
The meeting will be held at a Kirton venue, to be advised over the weekend, at 7.00 p.m.
Please reply to email@example.com, saying you can make it, and I will ensure you are sent details.
With best wishes