Plans to double population of Milton Keynes through rushed deal are deeply concerning says MP

MP Iain Stewart at Total Dojo in Bletchley.
MP Iain Stewart at Total Dojo in Bletchley.

You may have seen some comment recently in the national and local media about my criticism of Labour-run Milton Keynes Council for drawing up secret plans to double the population of Milton Keynes in just 30 years.

Mark Lancaster and I make no apologies for resisting these plans. While I want to see MK grow and flourish in the future, the plans put forward by the council are not the way to go about it.

We have over 20,000 new houses in Milton Keynes already approved and waiting to be built. Surely the focus should be on building these properly before rushing ahead with such significant accelerated growth? As ever Labour have got this the wrong way round.

The focus should be on business development and new jobs, then decide the housing and infrastructure needs.

Rushing a deal together in just a couple months, failing to take any stakeholders along on the journey, using the arbitrary population figure of 500,000 within our own borders, without any evidence to suggest that is the number we need is deeply concerning.

I have long argued our future housing growth needs to be planned in the context of the Oxford-Cambridge arc as a whole; and we must work with our neighbours to develop a plan for the future. I look forward to working with the council and the Government to develop a more sensible and sustainable long-term plan.

I often have the opportunity to attend inspiring local events. One was the annual Milton Keynes Women Business Leaders’ Awards to witness many worthy winners.

One of the key-note speakers was Kelly Haynes, a world champion in Muay Thai, one of the martial arts.

I have since met with Kelly and Sue Burke, chief executive of MK ACT, a charity that supports families that are the victims of domestic abuse. The meeting took place at Total Dojo in Bletchley, the gym where Kelly trains. Kelly has already raised £5,000 for MK ACT and has more fund-raisers planned.

Recently Mark Lancaster’s and my teams ran a funding fair to provide a forum where philanthropic organisations, charities and voluntary organisations came together to share ideas, opportunities and challenges. Given the success of this event, Mark and I plan to run a similar event in 2019.

I would like to conclude by saying thank you to everyone who organised this year’s Remembrance Sunday services in Milton Keynes, which had the added poignancy of commemorating the centenary of the Armistice.

I attended and laid wreathes at three ceremonies, two in Bletchley and one in Stony Stratford. All were a fitting tribute to all who have made so many sacrifices so that we may be free and safe.