Neighbourhood Plan Meeting 21 November 2015

Lenham Neighbourhood Plan (LNHP): Village Hall, 10-12noon, Saturday 21 November 2015

 Below is just a quick rundown of my personal take on the meeting which I attended. I am not presenting this in any official capacity, and any opinions below are my own, nothing to do with the Parish Council or anyone else. It’s not ‘minutes’ in any sense, and isn’t always in strict order of when comments were made. Please also bear in mind I may have misunderstood things, misheard or even ‘got the wrong end of the stick’. My personal ‘’take’’ is always in italics.

Lesley and Simon  22.11.15

It seemed to me that the point of the meeting (organised by the LNHP Team and with a Presentation by Designscape) was to encourage people to object formally to any planning applications that were not ‘’in line with’’ the current version of the Lenham NHP, and to encourage ‘people’ not to object to any planning applications that were ‘’in line with’’ the current NHP (though the point was clearly made that it is anyone’s right to object to anything).


I thought it was an interesting and informative meeting (I learned a lot about previous planning/housing in Lenham – see below). The SaveLenham website/campaign had previously sent out at least one notification of a local planning application to interested people who had given in their email addresses (saying they wanted to object to planning applications where appropriate), but seemed not to have been able to carry this out further. Margo (McFarlane, Parish Clerk) seemed to accept this, and that the PC might have to take on this task.

Sandy MacKenzie introduced himself as the Chair of the LNHP team (since Oct he said). He mentioned the importance of the powerfulness of individual objections, or support. Jenny Whittle (the Maidstone Borough Councillor) and Tom & Jannetta Sams also attended. The meeting was about half full at the 10.15 start, by the finish around 12 noon it was full [ie all the chairs were occupied – something around 40-50 people, though I didn’t do a proper headcount]. There was mention that Lenham had around 3,000 people, and 300 had attended the 17 October 15 consultation in the primary school. The formal adoption of the NHP needed 50% – but this was of the turnout, not of the whole 3,000 people. It was just like in a General Election, if only 100 people turned out, and 51 voted for – then it was formally agreed. Kingsley and David attended from Designscape. They did a presentation, mentioning that the LNHP had to be in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Local Authority Plan – Maidstone didn’t have one yet, and was woefully behind in actually achieving one. Lenham’s was not as far forward as Broomfield & Kingswood’s, which was 90% done. They said that, among other statements from Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), one was that “Lenham must be seen to do its bit for the Borough’’ (presumably re Planning/House building).

Things Lenham needs to understand:

  • Lenham can’t place too much reliance on the AONB and proximity to the AONB
  • People need to lobby the AONB Joint Advisory Committee
  • Tourism is important, as is culture, and the economy
  • The principle of anti-coalescence is important – and MBC seems interested in maintaining the separation to the West with Harrietsham, but seems less interested in what goes on to the East (direction Ashford [presumably because (a.) there’s space in that direction and (b.) they’re not interested in Ashford who can look after itself (!)].

It is sensible to lobby the Kent Downs AONB Partnership (AONB=area of outstanding natural beauty) – they are a small outfit based in Ashford whose job is to advise councils throughout Kent on AONB matters. They have a Joint Advisory Committee – to whom letters can be addressed. It was these people who advised MBC on the Tanyard Farm development that a band of trees between the houses and the road would mitigate the detrimental effect of ‘development’ there on the environment [personally, I don’t agree, but that was their stated opinion apparently]. They are at and the LNHP team and Designscape recommended the audience write to them with their views on development in Lenham. Given they also appear to be saying development East of Lenham is not a real problem, writing to them to give ‘’your’’ opinions why it would be a bad thing might be a good idea.

They have a Kent Downs Management Plan which is online, and they place a lot of importance on precedent, and are keen not to have poor precedents. They appear keen to protect the Arc of the Chalk Hills, and it would be good to remind them of that. Apparently this Arc continues from Lenham towards the coast via Canterbury and Dover and then on the continent through France – where it is a National Park [I think it’s a prehistoric track, from when England was joined to France]. Apparently the UK only has National Parks in areas where there are hills – where the terrain is flatter [like here] we have things like the KD AONB Partnership. Concerns about development etc in their area should be addressed to the Joint Advisory Committee – it is small but is powerful. There was a thought that letters should go through the Parish Council [nobody said this was so]. Threats to the beauty of the setting of the North Downs could be mentioned. Local nature reserves act as buffers. The NHP noted high levels of environmental stewardship locally [there is apparently a map, accessed through the NHP on the Lenham pc website]. The Environmental Stewardship schemes were set up by Natural England who actively want more landowners to enrol in the scheme as places open up (there is a cost, and the places available depend on funding).

There was a lot of talk about baseline studies relating to the number of springs which rise in the Lenham area. All this could be useful in letters to the ‘’authorities’’ about development in Lenham. The Len and the Stour both rise here – the Stour going off through Canterbury. Designscape mentioned that clean river headwaters particularly those with gravelly bottoms [would this be where Gravelly Bottom Road comes from?] tend to be where fish spawn. In this pre-Stour area, the new reed beds have been implemented to improve the water quality. The quality of the water is particularly good through Chilston Park – development would put this at risk, heavy development leads to nitrates contaminating the water. The reed beds were to remedy this [did I get this correct?]. The Len leads on into the Thames, the Stour to Canterbury – this makes Lenham absolutely unique in having 2 such important rivers rising here. Designscape said that the statutory ‘’buffer zone’’ between water and houses was a mere 5 meters, which is clearly silly but is nevertheless what the law says. Given the tourist draw that these are, the headwaters should have better protection.

Designscape proposed some points that could usefully be made were:

  1. The countryside should be protected
  2. Most of the houses that Lenham eventually gets should be brownfield – with particular reference to the 2 big potential sites that might/should come online in the next couple of decades (Lenham Storage and Marley) – although not imminent, they would be within the timescale of this current “Plan” (which is 2011-2031). [THERE IS NO, REPEAT NO, SUGGESTION THAT EITHER COMPANY, AT THE PRESENT TIME, HAS ANY THOUGHT OF MOVING]
  3. Lenham can develop a substantial number of houses while at the same time protecting its countryside – it would there be seen to be ‘’doing its bit’’
  4. Any development has to be of the right quality
  5. Other initiatives to improve the Parish as listed in the Policies [I noted this, but can’t remember actually what it meant! Sorry].

The Marley site might have 650 houses, and the Lenham Storage site around 250. Maidstone wants Lenham to provide 1700 – these sites would give something like half or even 2/3rds of what MBC wants, without any great problem.

Sandy said something like: MBC push the fact that they want 240 houses now and the rest (1,500) might never materialise given the 15-20 year timescale. However if that larger number is not objected to then Developers will pounce, seeing their opportunity. He carried on saying that on 17 Oct 15 at the primary school a lot of younger parish members had called in to say that they would like to live in Lenham either because it was their home, or they worked here. However the astronomical price of houses in the area made this an impossible dream. He had spoken to Lenham Storage, who had admitted that most of their workforce didn’t live in Lenham and, given they were paid near the Minimum Wage, couldn’t consider buying in Lenham to cut down their commute to work. He emphasised that currently Lenham Storage had absolutely no intention of moving – but that they were in a competitive industry, and they needed to be in the Maidstone/Ashford corridor area: if a better location came up they had to consider it. But there is nothing currently in the pipeline.

Designscape made these points on objections:

  • Its everyone’s right to object
  • Objecting to applications that are not in line with the NHP is sensible
  • Be wary of objection to applications that are in line with the NHP – that could play into the hands of ‘the other side’.


The audience had a number of comments:

Housing needs – local needs should have priority. Building small numbers of expensive ‘’luxury’’ houses did not address local needs. Any houses built should meet local needs. Jenny Whittle said that Denmark had a “5 year residency” requirement before a house could be purchased in an area, and this should be the sort of requirement here [I think the intention was for “affordable” houses to have this criteria]. There was then a lot of discussion as to how ‘’affordable’’ houses could be retained for ‘’locals’’ – with reference to landowners, if willing, being asked to put a “lean” on the land before selling (at the Land Registry) to say that houses built there should only be sold to ‘local’ people, and maybe something about the ultimate price, these legal mechanisms could in fact sideline the problems experienced with MBC who, apparently, when such housing for locals was built in Broomfield & Kingswood, instead of leaving it for real locals, opened it up to their own borough wide list of ‘’local housing needs’’ which has, anecdotally, resulted in a lot of people from places like Tovil getting houses in this village and being very unhappy there as they are essentially ‘urbanites’ and aren’t interested in living in a rural area.

Discussion about Local Needs Housing carried on. There was mention of clause 106 money [where the developer must pay towards the local infrastructure as the price of getting planning permission]. Mention was made of the Groom Way development [the old one, not the new Groom Square] where the Parish Council put pressure on the Borough Council and the result was a development that met local needs [unlike the new Groom Square development, which is a plot of ‘luxury houses’, I think that’s what was meant]. In that contract the developers were required to provide 2 more houses – but the developer preferred to pay money instead and a Lenham Housing Group bought land, and built 10 homes on them, rather than the 2 extra that is all the main development was to have had. Rented not purchased properties were what was needed, nor the half purchase/half rent schemes. A special survey was mooted – the last one went to 1,000 homes, they got 100 back – 20 families said yes, they needed affordable property in the next 5 years, ie this was proof they would be filled, that was needed to go ahead with the development. Apparently Loder Close [off Ham Lane – is this the old new development or the more recent one? Or the one in Planning currently? Don’t know] had 13 local needs houses, the landowner offered it at a cheaper price to the Housing Group, the Parish Council wasn’t involved, and this Housing Group got them done.


A ‘Lenham Housing Group’’ was again mooted which could repeat what had previously happened. The Parish Council didn’t have enough say in who gets these houses when built by developers. It was mentioned that once in, nobody wanted to move out. Maybe a Community Land Trust was the answer, to lease land to a Housing Association while the Parish Council retained control over who goes in. It was hoped this would go forward.

Kingsley from Designscape agreed with all the above. Saying Designscape had been discussing this sort of thing with a landowner about the south of the railway land, he mentioned that the housing market in the UK was controlled by the likes of Persimmon and Wimpey – and that self-built plots were simply not feasible if the plot, as currently, was going for £100-125,000, they were only sensible if plots could be sold for around £30,000.

Identifying local needs was raised, and a question was asked about the processes necessary to identify the needs, to deliver the results and then stand up to scrutiny. Janetta said that yes, it was easy to organise the survey and everyone was keen to take it forward, but a Borough mind-set was needed – she mentioned that 11 of the 80 Hollies development in Harrietsham were for local needs and were very over-subscribed. These sorts of houses also needed to be smaller, the 1-2 bedroom size, and therefore also, presumably cheaper. Someone pointed out that this meant they would be sold to London ‘’buy-to-letters’’ and would not end up in local hands. This was what had happened to a lot of the houses recently built in Harrietsham – they were now rented, having been bought by wealthy Londoners.

Someone said that the absolute earliest MBC had been able to agree to do a Lenham local housing needs survey was April 2016.

Mention was made of the government’s right to buy scheme – and the fact that Housing Associations were going to be made to sell their houses by the government. The talk again turned to ‘’nice’’ landowners agreeing to put leans in the Land Registry on their land sold for local/affordable homes to get them remaining in local hands. MBC couldn’t then do other things with the houses when they were agreed/built.

Someone asked the Sams how much support there was among their fellow councillors for this sort of thing. Tom and Janetta said there was support. But getting local needs housing was a huge task, the Hollies had been an enormous task for Harrietsham and had involved lobbying Borough Councillors.

Another member of the audience pointed out, again, that getting the landowners onboard could sideline this problem. Kingsley from Designscape agreed. Leans on the land were the easiest method, and could be built into the Local Plan, Tom Sams agreed too, the Hollies development originated with a benign landowner. Designscape said this route was probably the only watertight one.

A member of the audience said that the problem of single people living in large houses hadn’t been addressed yet. Designscape mentioned the bedroom tax as solving this in the social sector, but agreed nothing was happening re this in the private sector.

Designscape suggested any objections should:

Focus correctly on the problem/application (many people had objected to the planning application/s re the Co-Op which weren’t the original one [ie the one for the compressors, and the one to downgrade the sustainability of the flats (from 4 to 3, the minimum anyway] and so wasted their time and effort.

  • Use legitimate planning reasons [see above]
  • Cite your own local knowledge – this is valued by the planners, you might know stuff they don’t.
  • There is a problem with the ‘’statutory consultees’’ [ie the Highways Agency and people like this] being more highly regarded than locals. If a HA official says something, then it goes not what Mr Smith next door says.

Legitimate planning reasons include [not exhaustive]:

Overlooking (but remember nobody has any right to a view, objecting on this ground is pointless]

  • Overbearing bulk
  • Traffic
  • Ecology


DON’T object on:


  • Right to a view – you don’t have one, period
  • Property prices – they’re not required to take this into account, so nobody does
  • Infrastructure – eg ‘’the sewage won’t work with too many people’’, as the answer is simply, they’ll have to build more of it, and they will.
  • And don’t complain about immigration – its irrelevant to the planning process.


BUT do consider mentioning:


  • You can mention the landscape and how its valued
  • You can mention the culture and the local society, and how any particular build with interact with it – all this features heavily in the NPPF (national planning framework) and therefore they have to take this into account.


You can consider petitions – but names on a petition don’t count as much as a letter or email.


DON’T use templates for emails or letters, they have a much lower value because ‘they’re a template’.


Do check your key dates – there’s no point writing the day after the closing date for objections, you’ll waste your time.


Sandy mentioned the length that an application is open for consultation with the public is only 21 days, from the date that the Site Notice goes up.


A member of the audience said the Planners locally were considering scrapping the Site Notices – all agreed this would be a bad step, as this was one of the major routes to people finding out about Planning Applications.


Apparently the Loder Close application was still ongoing. [Loder Close is the road off Ham Lane – in the direction of Harrietsham – so the development is the one opposite, or sort of opposite, the Cloister flats in Ham Lane]. This was mentioned as being the application to look out for currently and lobby about.

Designscape said that the Broomfield & Kingswood Parish Council had a list on a database of 300 residents who wanted to be notified of planning applications so they could consider whether or not to object, they suggested Lenham should go this route [see the beginning, Save Lenham was doing this, can’t now, and the PC are considering taking it on].


A member of the audience said lobbying the actual Councillors, the Planning Committee, Members of Parliament by means of direct personal emails, might be the way to make a difference. Someone said the Borough council website had contact details for everyone, and lobbying just in advance of a Planning Meeting re a particular application was the best idea in case things ‘got forgotten’.


Timescales were mentioned again, Maidstone might just manage to get its Local Plan together by 2017 – which was mentioned as very very late.


Lenham NHP would need 6 weeks of formal Regulation 14 consultation which looked likely to take place Feb-Mar 2016. Then MBC had 6 weeks to examine it. MBC never got a year 2000 Plan done at all – the time to do it expired with nothing achieved. But they weren’t alone – this had happened to half the councils in the UK. MBC apparently are legally obliged to identify a 5 year land supply, and have not yet done this. While they haven’t done this, any decision on planning applications in these areas are simply made by officials using the information they have to hand. This made it even more vital to get a LNHP, and more vital to lobby officials re Lenham’s viewpoint – because they have no Maidstone framework into which they had to slot their decisions.


Any errors, omissions or misconceptions are mine – I’ve simply put this online as my take on what happened at that meeting. Read and enjoy.






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The Co-Op’s neon window displays

One and half metres by almost 2 metres


These are the displays that the coop is proposing to cover their windows with. Anybody coming in to Lenham on the Faversham road, on the right hand side of the road will be the ancient and historic mortuary, on the left hand side immediately opposite will be a huge plate of spaghetti bolognese.  Or, a tourist, or anybody,  will be able to admire our history and turn around and see a bowl of salad.

I suppose the spaghetti looking like worms and the mortuary somehow work together but it is inappropriate

Along with these will be neon signs, it will dominate the entrance to the village and totally alter its character.

There are no similar signs within or near the historic area of Lenham, All other shops have sympathetic shop fronts.

In proposing these signs, which no doubt will soon be changed to similar but advertising booze, the coop totally misled the meeting in the village hall where they presented themselves as sympathetic to the village and wanting to be part of it.

This is just one more step in applying for permission to build to a quality then progressively downgrading.

Parish Council’s Comment and Objections.

14/505125/FULL         Lenham Ironmongers 8 Faversham Road Lenham

3rd March 2015           Instalment of three new air conditioning units, one condenser unit

and one condenser pack.

We wish to see adequate provision of baffles and enclosure of the units. Prefer to see increased sound proofing provision. We re-iterate the original concerns for the effect on neighbouring residential properties and the quality of life of residents in the immediate vicinity. Wish to see refused.


15/501472/ADV           Lenham Ironmongers 8 Faversham Road Lenham

13th March 2015         Advertisement 9 x externally trough light fascia signs,

1 x internally illuminated projecting sign, 1 x projecting ‘paypoint’

Sign and 12 x full height window graphics.

The window graphics are not in keeping with the character of the

village. The illumination and signage is excessive and we are

concerned about the length of time the illumination will be in use.

Wish to see refused.

Not called into planning committee.



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The Lenham Coop, RAMAC’s Variation in Sustainable Code

The co-op development is a very good example of how the planning approach has developed over the last few years in seeing what will certainly happen with the major developments around Lenham.

In summary, RAMAC / CoOp have requested a variation in their planning consent to reduce the “sustainability” of the flats in the roof of the new building.  The reduction is effectively from 4, the minimum required in London, to almost 3 the absolute minimum requirement.

Simply said.  Quote a reasonable code to get planning approval and then ask to reduce it having started to build.  I have no doubt that the planners will agree.

So, what is going on?

Looking at the recent application to vary the flats from code level 4 to level 3, ( these codes are indications of the ”sustainability” of the homes. the higher the value the higher, supposedly, the better )

The argument proposes that the flats are being developed distinct from the rest of the building and that the rest of the buildings’ structure defines the quality of the structure of the flats, and their hands are tied. Of course this is the case – but the developer is asking for a variation with the proposal that these flats are constrained by the structure of the shop, and cannot comply with a code of sustainability that is now a legal minimum requirement in London and wishes to push their compliance down. [to a level that is a minimum requirement for affordable homes!].

But its all one building, built by the same developer based on the same set of plans.  If the proposed flats can’t be built to the agreed standard, then leave the roof void empty!

And the Noise Issue.

Associated with this, is the noise levels that Lenham is about to be subjected to. Not just the occasional visiting lorry and clank of trolleys being unloaded, but the constant running of what will be very powerful fans and pumps for both air-sourced heat pumps for warming (the flats) and air-sourced heat pumps for cooling (the Coops fridges) . i have no doubt that these systems, the warming for the flats and the cooling for the shop’s refrigerated areas, will be separate and running almost constantly.  I will get to the separation in a moment, but the various codes for sustainability propose that electric heating in a domestic property effectively implies sustainability.

And the cost of running these heat pumps

There is no consideration of the potential very high financial cost in running these systems – pity the flats occupants. The developer comments that they are going to put solar PV panels on the roof and that this will mitigate the cost of running the heat pumps, however the heat pumps will have most use in the winter when there is minimal to no solar gain. Stating that the solar and the heat pumps are a great idea as a combination is disingenuous. A heat pump potentially multiplies the energy delivered by the electricity possibly 3-fold. a solar water heater is between 3 and 5 times as effective at drawing energy from the sun as solar PV.

Having solar water heating rather than solar PV on a roof where space is limited is by far a better solution than solar PV.  The developer might well state that, with the payments under the Feed-In Tariff, the system becomes economically viable, however I would state, with a level of certainty, that the lease-holder (the flat occupier / owner) will be the last person to gain this added income.

Going back to the separate heat pumps – one for heating and one for cooling. Has there been any consideration of a system combining the 2? Personally, I doubt it. also, going back to the stated maximum space available being sufficient for 4-kilowatts of PV , this seems to be more a coincidence [that 4-kw gives the maximum per kW Feed-In Tariff, which is most likely going to the freeholder or the Co-op].

Were there a serious interest in the use of solar, the roof would be covered in it regardless of the fact that this will knock the tariff down by one level [has planning stopped them putting up more panels?]. Again I would say that the whole solar installation is more of a stunt than a serious attempt at building a sustainable set of ”eco-flats”.

Looking at the flats as somewhere to live, unless there is a significant barrier between the flats and the shop they will potentially be a horror to live in – despite complying with all the relevant regulations. [note the consultation exercise with govt and the industry probably didn’t have a consumer on it, ie somebody who might be expected to buy and live in these ”compliant” properties]. In summer being difficult to cool because of the heat coming up from the shop floor, the windows  certainly for a couple of the flats needing to be kept closed to avoid the noise from the various heating and cooling pumps and fans. In winter being expensive to heat for reasons stated previously. However it might well be that the effects that the shop itself generates sufficient heat that goes up that they need minimal winter heating. That being the case, I expect the flats will be quite noisy. As to the noise levels in the surrounding properties, the developers have stated that when there is lots of traffic on the Faversham and Maidstone Roads, those current noise levels are as high as the additional levels that can be expected from these heating and cooling fans and pumps – thus that noise is ok. But the heating and cooling fans and pumps will likely be working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Are heat pumps worth it?

I personally considered putting a heat pump into my property – I am still looking for the optimum position so that it is not an irritation for my neighbours. But then, I like to consider myself a ”good neighbour”. I wonder if in years to come the Coop will state ”but we’re only renting it, don’t blame us” – remember they have been involved from Day One.

This development, while not particularly wanted by Lenham, could have been designed and implemented as a very high-quality statement of what could be done by a developer that cared for its local community and wanted the best. What we are going to have delivered, based on the initial; [current/] planning application was mediocre at best. They have now downgraded it from that level.

As to the further developments in LENHAM,

We have the potential to see a planned development of our community in a direction that most communities don’t have that opportunity to guide. I am concerned that what will happen is a series of housing estates built to a regime of satisfying all requirements at the lowest possible cost, the highest possible profit and little regard for the local environment and population – just as we are seeing here. Against that, I am certain that this second-rate structure will, of course, win many awards presented by their self-congratulatory peers.

Of course I will be accused of scaremongering, that of course this gambit of getting planning permission for a structure at one reasonable but not high level of sustainability has only been used in this one instance.  Have a look at the planning applications for the Groom Way development and tell me this same cunning plan wasn’t used here.

The development in Lenham is going to make a lot of developers much richer and our community, both those who live here and those newcomers much poorer.

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Lenham Coop

With the possibility of a supermarket opening up in Lenham getting ever closer, here’s a few thoughts on what this means in a wider context.

Back in 2012 the Coop presented its case to Lenham, there must have been a good 200 people present in the village Hall and there was an overwhelming view against the Coop, a few supporting it, but just individuals, in the broad sense the view of Lenham against Coop was unanimous. 

But Coop being a big company, and in this sense a bully (verb: use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.) decided that Lenham would have a supermarket, their supermarket and carried on submitting plans.  Why on earth have the meeting at all? Why not simply say “sod you lot, you’re little people, we can do what we want”  

The plans so far accepted are for the redevelopment of the old ironmongers with a shop included, flats above and parking spaces for flat owners (leasehold) and a small number for shop customers.

Okay, lets assume Coop goes ahead, its a sad assumption and as with other small towns and villages, this represents the start of the loss of a character that differentiates us from every other medium sized clone village. 

First off the challenge to the existing shops, I can see the big change being availability and active promotion of cheap booze, our current store doesn’t, this new one, as with all the other coops, southern or otherwise, will. A proportion of the window space will be booze.

Take this a step further, if you are under 18 in the middle of Lenham, getting booze means being a lot more devious than simply pretending you are over 18, we have a shop owner who is a responsible member of the community, often on the counter and I would say accountable when not.

The Coop will have a single salaried employee and 17 part timers, my guess is zero hours contracts, hours set to avoid coop having too many staff responsibilities and certainly a target of most being minimum wage. My guess is it will be a bit easier to get cheaper booze when maybe one shouldn’t.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I do wonder where the kids do get their drink.

Whatever, drinking will most likely  go up, my guess is that its not just the local shops that will be challenged but also the two pubs.

So, 1 full time and 17 part time, certainly no careers there and each part timer will have to rely on some kind of state support, especially if on a  zero hours contract.  

Looking at the newsagent, I recognise him and I guess family and staff, I’m happy to shop there for my Times and Mail, I don’t take advantage of the deliver service, but this shop clearly offers a very important amenity in providing that service. I have no doubt the Coop will not compete here, but then they will certainly sell newspapers. Once entrenched it will be only too easy to pick up a newspaper with the groceries, if that happens too much will we see the demise of the dedicated newsagent?

No Newsagent, thus no more deliveries, no more part time jobs for the kids and a bit less money circulating in the village and no experience for subsequent generations of kids of work. Go on from here and nobody to notice that Mrs Smith / Jones  whoever hasn’t taken the newspaper from the letterbox, nor a point of communication for those who go to the newsagent.  A nail in the coffin of our community.

A store like the coop relies on convenience, its easy to shop there, simply drive up, park, nip in, purchase and gone. Might as well do it on-line. But where to park? Certainly not in front, those 5 spaces will soon be filled up and I guess most likely by staff? But no, they are for customers, so staff will park in the square or behind the Red Lion. So will the customers? Well actually I struggle to find a parking space myself, but its not a big deal. But Coop need footfall, can’t have customers put off by people unable to park, so our fairly informal approach to parking in Lenham will be the new problem that I am sure will be solved by the Coop!

Watch this space, regular visits by the parking wardens to enforce any waiting limits and what about making the square a pay parking area. after all, the money raised can be spent on the community. 

Prices won’t be cheaper. Certainly not when buying ingredients. Try buying a tray of eggs and the equivalent of a bag of spuds from the Coop at the same price you can pay at the butchers. Ready meals though, the bane of modern society, chock full of salt and sugar, now that’s what the coop will major in. Okay, people are free to buy what they like, but isn’t there something fundamentally wrong in replacing or risking the livelihood of stores where the push is towards a basic healthy diet with a convenient approach to purchasing mass produced pap? 

Do I want a local coop? No. Lenham isn’t perfect, but it has its own character  this will only detract from it. Will the Coop make Lenham a better community?  Of course it won’t. It is an organisation that has no regard for Lenham beyond what money it can make from us – that’s the nature of big business, it is undeniable.

Anyway, what happened to Call me Dave’s Localism?  



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JD Sports says rioters looted £700,000 of stock – lets make it unusable!

JD Sports said the looting seen during the riots would not harm its profits this year.

Sports retailer JD Sports has said last month’s riots led to £700,000 of its stock being looted, but says its full-year profits will not be damaged. (BBC website)

What about RFID (Radio Frequency ID ) tags. A bit like bar codes but with a virtually limitless set of IDs meaning every item of clothing could have its own individual RFID.  Even better than Bar Codes, these RFIDs don’t need to be scanned with a “gun” rather just standing near the scanner will pick up the RFID chip, so small it, or many can be embedded in any item.

So, lets say JD Sports was using RFIDs. A pair of trainers is stolen and that unique identifier is marked as belonging to stolen property. Thief walks into a JD Sports shop, the RFID detector picks up the presence of stolen goods, the thief is very easily identified and dealt with!

Introduce this technology widely enough and theft of most items from shops, while still possible under riot conditions, or burglary or similar, becomes almost impossible to use. Stolen items immediately become worthless.

Perhaps extend this to the home. Maybe we can all have an RFID detector. Simply go through the home and catalogue all your possessions that have RFID tags as yours. Simply recording the RFID means you very easily build a database of your own stuff, easily downloaded to the police, or perhaps ebay should you wish to sell anything ?

If you are burgled, again the item can only be used within a very limited area, take it or wear it in a shop or location with an RFID detector and immediately there will be an alert of stolen goods.

Is it expensive? No, very very cheap, so cheap and small that you could embed many RFIDs in a single item. The uses go far beyond stock taking and anti theft. Imagine your washing machine alerting you to a non colour fast item being put in with the whites. Or a recycle bin showing green for the correct recyclable thing and red that its the wrong bin!


Maybe JD Sports has been using RFID, maybe there are a few more rioters or generally bad people who will have their collars felt who thought they had got away with it!  I hope so.

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Filed under Bar Codes, Radio Frequency ID, rfid, Theft, Uncategorized

Let Greece Go!

Global economic chaos? Its all down to the problems in Greece, but its the fault of the politicians throughout Europe who are desperate to get on the Euro gravy train.

Why on earth keep Greece in the Euro. All this tosh about it being impossible to remove a country from the Euro once it is in it just doesn’t stand up. Greece has its own economy, civil service, tax gathering system, in fact everything apart from the bank notes that make up a unique currency. Simply print them in secret (maybe that is happening now) and on “D Day” (Drachma Day) declare 1 Drachma = 1 Euro. All civil servants are paid in Drachma, all Government funding / payments etc are paid in Drachma, this can be extended as relevant. Very painful and I’m sure will result in a fall in the value of the Drachma but no pain, no gain!

Also external banks will lose out as their loans to Greece will be now held in Drachma and as the Drachma falls in value the value of the loan will collapse – but there’s no way they will get the money back anyway so they are hardly losing anything!

The good bit. We will all go on Holiday to cheap Greece just like we used to. A coffee will now be the equivalent of £1  not the £3 it is now!  Exports will boom!  2 years pain and Greece can then start to recover.

The European economy can also start to get back to normal, all eyes that are now on Greece can get back to sorting out the other 95% of the Euro.

Perhaps do the same with Spain, Portugal and Italy? Again, 2 years of pain.

The alternative, realistically Greece is going to go through increasing pain, it can only recover if it turns itself into Germany and it can only do that if they have Germans in charge.

So why not redefine the Euro to get it back on track, slimmer and more powerful?

Very simple.

With the chaotic, corrupt, unaccountable,  and overpaid EU as it is, there are a great many politicians angling to get on the European Union gravy train. Get a job in Brussels, you are there for life whatever you do! You don’t have to be good at your job, there is little accountability, the less so the higher position you have.  You don’t have to stand for election.

In fact, look at the structure of the Nazi party and how it managed / ruled Europe and there are too many similarities. We are not talking about the violence and terror, this is the manner in which rules were made and passed down.

So, will our leaders pass up this chance to get on the EU gravy train by stating the obvious, the whole EU system needs changing ? Of course not, unless they don’t see it as an easy way to make money and have undeserved power!

Which failed UK politicians are we talking about? Kinnock for one, then there’s Mandleson. Baroness Ashton is a classic, an unknown in the UK, then she gets put into the position of head of the EU Foreign Office !!!

What about all the has been’s and never were’s on the European Court of Human Rights, totally unaccountable, poor decision making based on politics not law.

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Filed under Baroness Ashton, Drachma, Euro, European Union, Greece, Kinnock, Mandleson, Uncategorized

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