THERE were two articles in the May edition of Business MK which I think deserve a response.

MP Dr Phyllis Starkey believes that business should do more to champion the growth of Milton Keynes. I suspect I know why few businesses are coming forward to shout their enthusiasm for the expansion.

They see the failure of government to commit sufficient public funding to address the infrastructure issues – particularly that of transport – and they know there are proposals to abandon the grid system in the expansion areas while offering no viable alternative.

With the battle for the perception of Milton Keynes almost won, they see those features of the city, which outsiders now appreciate, being dismantled. They see development proposals driven only by financial returns and housing numbers.

They fear the loss of those attributes which make Milton Keynes such a great place to work and do business.

Cllr Isobel McCall unwittingly hit the nail on the head with her response to Urban Eden. She said: “Anyone would believe from the current debate that change in Central Milton Keynes is new, imposed by some faceless bureaucrats who haven’t a clue what they are doing.”

That’s exactly it. The imposition of the growth of Milton Keynes is being driven not by its citizens and businesses but by faceless forces who appear not to know the likely consequences while councillors ‘nod through’ their increasingly detrimental plans.

Urban Eden has within its membership people who really care about Milton Keynes. They don’t object to development or expansion – in fact, they embrace it. They can read plans. They know exactly what will be the consequences of tinkering with the city’s structure. In many cases, they spent years working to harmonise buildings, people and trees. The result: a green and pleasant city.

We have lived for 30 years with a young and maturing landscape. Now, just when it’s coming to fruition and looking its best, it is being messed about and tinkered with. There’s no grand plan, no overall vision, no conviction that only the best will do.

If Milton Keynes is not to be a city of trees, wide boulevards, redways and a grid system, what is it to be? The peer group review of expansion plans asked that question but no one has yet proffered a credible answer.

Cllr McCall says it is time to move on. The question is: move on to what?
If these faceless bureaucrats have their way, I think there’s every likelihood that Milton Keynes will lose its unique character and appeal and become a rather unpleasant, mediocre new town about which people will say: “Concrete cows, concrete town – I told you so!”

Sue Malleson
Taurus Public Relations, via e-mail

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