Inaction by LibDem-controlled Kingston Council has resulted in the destruction of an important local nature reserve at the Surbiton Filter Beds site in Portsmouth Road. Yet rather than taking the necessary action to preserve the site in the long-term, the LibDems seem to be shamelessly intent on playing politics by trying to pass the buck to the Westminster Government to introduce new regulations when they have not used their existing powers.
The Surbiton Filter Beds is an historic site but also has a designation to protect the nature reserve, which is not being respected by the site owner. The site owner wants to build homes on the site and is manoeuvring for the site to become industrial land which will allow them the opportunity to redevelop the site. This plan for the destruction of the local ecology has not happened overnight and has been taking place for the best part of six months, and there have been plenty of opportunities for Lib Dem Kingston Council to stand up for local residents and prevent it from happening.
Local residents raised a petition which calls on the Council to take urgent action, but this has been totally ignored and will do nothing to restore the site.
Councillor Kevin Davis, Conservative Group Leader, said: “The LibDems have let down local residents as the Surbiton Filter Beds nature reserve is being destroyed in front of their eyes. Nasty chemicals are being sprayed, greenery being slashed and burned whilst valuable species are being eradicated from the site by deliberate destruction. LibDem plans to pass the buck to the national Government would take too long and they know it. They are fiddling while Rome burns!”
“Previously the LibDems have supported drastic action like the Compulsory Purchase of important sites, yet now they are in control they’ve shown their true colours. Given there is nothing left to enforce and that the owner of the site has ultimately got their way the only avenue left is for the council to negotiate with the landowner, not pretend we can invent some new protection in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Photo by Motmit – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4979254
Note: During the 2014-18 administration when the Conservatives were in control we looked at Compulsory Purchase of the site and asked community groups to help us make a case for Compulsory Purchase. This came to nothing and therefore it became impossible to make a legal case for purchase.