LETTER: Big challenge of monstrous portal

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How inspirational it is to see more than 3,000 formal responses to the proposed planning framework on the Horsham District Council Consultation Portal.

The good people of Horsham have shown how willing they are to navigate huge hurdles to make their comments known.

By my calculation, even knowing that landowners, developers and other vested interests feature in the current 3,026 total, considerably less than ten per cent of those comments are in favour of this scheme – scarcely a resounding call in favour!

During the process of helping HDC out by ensuring that more people knew about the scheme and were able to join the consultation about it, I spoke to many people in person and by email.

Without exception, even the most IT literate among them said how deeply challenging they had found it to enter the data correctly into this monstrous portal. Many others simply found it too hard to contemplate.

Indeed by all accounts, so challenging is it to work that many entries are internally inconsistent and HDC have taken many calls from residents outraged that their views have been misrepresented.

As evidence of how tortuous the process of data entry was, let’s have a look at some numbers…

As at 1st August 2014, there were 3,026 responses from over 840 respondents (individuals, developers, organisations). According to HDC’s figures, 255 of those were ‘in favour’ of their policies and 2,771 were against. However we must call into question the council’s analysis…

Of the 3,026 policy responses, 129 are incorrectly attributed to ‘support’ a policy when clearly they are opposed from their comments and other selections made.

There are 27 responses saying they support the policy, but clearly from their selections such as ‘too negative’/ ‘against National policy’ etc. are opposed.

One respondent made 19 policy comments all of which clearly oppose the policies, but of which 18 are recorded as being in favour. Not exactly encouraging one to have faith in the process is it?

Perhaps readers should go onto the site and check their entries. Thanks so much to those who have helped to analyse the mess that is the HDC database – they have given hours of their precious time to decipher what has gone on.

Let us hope that the process of having our voices heard by the inspector is not made equally difficult by HDC.

If they are planning to do so, they should be assured that Horsham residents will gladly walk over broken glass to make their views known.

JONATHAN DANCER

Avebury Close, Horsham