‘Cavalier treatment’ of parishes ‘disgraceful’ says former Southwater parish chairman

HOR 010310 Tony Bull (right) pictured in 2010 with West Sussex county councillor Brad Watson presenting a petition against plans to cut opening hours at Southwater library   photo by derek martin
HOR 010310 Tony Bull (right) pictured in 2010 with West Sussex county councillor Brad Watson presenting a petition against plans to cut opening hours at Southwater library photo by derek martin
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Powerless parish councils are being blamed for things they have no control over - according to the resigning chairman of Southwater Parish Council.

Anthony Bull, who lives in Salisbury Road, Tower Hill, resigned last week and also stood down as a parish councillor after six years and a decade respectively.

He said he had become disenchanted with the performance of both Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council, and that parish councillors were often blamed for decisions they had no control over.

In his letter of resignation he said: “Their cavalier treatment of parish councils is nothing but disgraceful resulting in us picking up the blame for many of their so-called ‘partnership’ enterprises.

“The library, highways and planning are to name but a few. That age old saying of ‘simply making the number up’ could never be truer.”

He thanked other parish councillors, clerk Cathy Tobin and deputy clerk Jenny Nagy, and the rest of the staff for their hard work.

However, he lambasted the county council for its handling of Southwater Library, and criticised recent vacillations in HDC’s planning policy.

He explained: “They can’t take decisions, they keep laying it off for consultants.

“I think we are on the third or fourth consultant. How much is this costing? It’s just crazy.

“They are all looking over their shoulders because they want to get elected.”

Last week the parish council clerk said that they first learned of Horsham Football’s Club’s plans for a new ground at Hop Oast on the County Times’ website.

Mr Bull continued: “The straw that broke the camel’s back was the football announcement. It appears in your paper and it’s being endorsed by Ray Dawe [leader of HDC]. But it’s got to go through planning and it makes a mockery of the thing.”

He listed the success of the Christmas fair, popular summer fetes, and the relationships with Southwater’s schools as some of the more positive things to come out of his tenure as chairman of the council.

“As I say I’m very sad because I did enjoy it, but you get so frustrated. That’s why my predecessor left. It’s exasperating,” he added.

“All the things that come through from central Government on localism. It’s all claptrap.”

Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), leader of Horsham District Council, said: “I was sorry to learn of Tony Bull’s resignation. We have always worked closely with Southwater Parish Council and much has been achieved in the village as a result of our partnership.

“We are, however, very keen to improve how we work with parish councils in the planning process and are optimistic that through the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans we will be able to do just that - putting local people much more in the driving seat.

“I would be happy to meet Tony’s successor to discuss any matters of concern and how we can resolve these.”

West Sussex County Council was asked to comment, but did not respond.