The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Scared Minister?
Posted Monday, 16 June 2008 at 10:20

Well it certainly looks that way.

On Friday I got wind that Housing Minister - Caroline Flint MP - was rapidly arranging a meeting and a visit to my constituency on Monday.

We put two and two together, rang Renaissance Bedford, the organisation tasked with making the proposed new Eco-town happen and told them I was attending the meeting and could they send through an itinerary.

They obliged and also sent a list of attendees. The MP for Bedford was on the list; however, not one single proposed home is in his constituency.

We then sat back and waited for the official call from the Minister’s office to inform us of the visit.

It came at 4.55pm on Friday to my Westminster office. I imagine it was one of the few offices left manned at that time on a Friday. I reckon the phone being picked up may have come as a bit of a shock

They spent ten minutes on the phone explaining that the Minister was visiting Mid Beds for fact finding and a private meeting and that under no circumstances could I, the local MP, attend.

My researcher didn’t say a word, but just let them keep on talking.

When the official from the Minister's office had finished my researcher said, "If it's a private meeting, why is the MP for Bedford attending?" And "Would you like a shovel?"

There was a cough and a hurried exit with a promise to call back.

The call came back loaded with profuse apologies and lurid details of how the official had been "torn off a strip."

You could smell the burning rubber from wheels in reverse down the phone.

The Minister is starting her visit at the Brogborough picnic site.

This new Eco-town is no picnic for anyone in Bedfordshire.

The Minister has allocated 1.5 hours to meet with the Eco-town developers (O&H Properties and Gallagher Estates) and 10 minutes to listen to local residents and their concerns.

Renaissance Bedford, the organisation charged with the responsibility to make the new town happen are organising the visit so that’s nice and balanced then.

The MP for Bedford is still attending according to the attendee list, yet it’s not in his constituency and he has no government role in housing - so is he using an issue of grave concern to the people of Mid Beds for any other reason than political posturing, and a quick photo op?

Cynics amongst us think that this may be a quick PR stunt in order for the Minister to say she has visited the site and ‘listened to the concerns of local people' all ten minutes of them and tick the appropriate boxes.

Or could it be because there is a meeting on Monday night at Bedford Borough Council to discuss the proposal?

So what is it exactly the Minister is scared of? Why not give the 1.5 hrs to the local residents and hear their concerns, after all, both Gallagher Estates and O&H have met with me in Westminster and could do the same with her.

Maybe it's because the Minister doesn’t want to hear that residents know that by 2016 according to the government's own targets, all new build homes have to be 100% carbon neutral - so why an Eco town now?

Or that residents know this is a planning scam to simply fast track large numbers of new build straight through the planning process.

And finally, the Minister allocates just 10 Minutes to travel from the Marston Vale to Bedford Town Centre …. they want to dump 20,000 homes here and can't even time a car journey right?

Heaven help us!

Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at:
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

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