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Howard: Local say for local people on planning

On the campaign trail in Milton Keynes

"It's great to be here in Milton Keynes this afternoon: out of Westminster, away from London - meeting people; listening to their concerns; addressing the challenges facing our country.

And what do people tell me?

Everywhere I go, people say they are tired of Tony Blair.

Because he promises things but doesn't deliver.

But here in Milton Keynes he's done something even worse.

He's delivered something without promising it.

Mr Blair and his deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, are delivering a massive blow to this area. They're imposing 70,000 new homes

- without any serious planning;

- without any proper funding; and

- without any consultation with you - the local people.

Milton Keynes is a booming, dynamic place. Milton Keynes deserves to grow.

But people here know that it has to expand gradually in order to maintain the quality of life for all of its residents. The infrastructure is already stretched.

So why is this arrogant Labour government moving 70,000 extra families into this area without asking anyone's advice?

Milton Keynes General is already busy enough - where will the extra hospital beds come from?

The M1 is already busy enough - where will the extra road space come from?

The trains are already busy enough - where will the extra carriages and platform space come from?

Milton Keynes has two Labour MPs. They're meant to speak up for you. But they don't tell Mr Blair what you think - they tell you what Mr Blair thinks!

If you want to send Mr Blair a message then get rid of your Labour MPs.

If you want to send Mr Blair a message then vote Conservative. Vote for Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster and you'll have MPs who'll work for you - the people of Milton Keynes - not for Mr Blair.

What's happening here is happening all over the south of England.

We all love and value our green space but it's under pressure as never before.

It sometimes seems that every field, every meadow and every village is threatened with some building proposal or other.

That's why we have planning laws. That's why we have protection of agricultural land. That's why we have the greenbelt.

Conservatives have always supported these measures. And we've often sought to strengthen them.

But Mr Blair's government has stopped being the protector-in-chief of our green fields.

Instead, Mr Blair's government has become the destroyer-in-chief of our green fields.

Labour has taken away the right of local communities to block developments that ruin their environment.

Labour has weakened protection for our already threatened farmland.

Labour has imposed massive house building programmes on greenbelt and green fields that will destroy the character of many quiet rural areas forever.

These plans don't just affect the people who live in the countryside - they also affect the quality of life for people who live in nearby towns.

And they take no account of the effect on the environment for the people who already live in these areas and who are having the quality of their lives ruined.

So watch out. If Mr Blair wins a third term, many areas will be concreted over and ruined.

It doesn't have to be like that.

And there's another point. Uncontrolled immigration is putting pressure on all resources - including housing. Over 150,000 people are now settling in the UK every year - equivalent to a city the size of Peterborough. Of all the housing the Government says we need for our growing population, a third is what they expect from immigration. We have to face reality. Reducing immigration would reduce pressure on greenfield sites.

Conservatives have a better approach.

So let me tell you what we'd do.

We'd give local communities a much bigger say on planning matters.

We'd abolish Mr Prescott's remote regional planning bureaucracies controlled from Whitehall.

We'd scrap regional control of housing numbers.

Action to protect the environment starts at the grassroots.

Everyone should try and do their bit.

Unlike Tony Blair I believe that things really can get better.

On May 5th the people of Britain can use their votes to send a message to Mr. Blair - enough is enough.

We don't want five more years of promises.

We don't want five more years of talk.

We don't want five more years of the same.

Britain deserves better.

If you vote Conservative this time you'll send a message that you want something more from your government.

Use your vote to take a stand.

It's time for change.

It's time for action.

It's time to vote Conservative."

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