LETTER: Council’s meetings with landowners

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Tony Hogben (WSCT 24/04/2014, letters, p.36) refers to a visit by HDC to Liberty’s site at Kings Hill, Kent. Attendees included Adam Walker of Crickmay (Liberty’s agent for the proposed North of Horsham development), Steve Harvey (Director of Huntley LLP) and Andrew Blevins (MD of Liberty). Adam Walker and Steve Harvey are also sole directors of Core Portfolio Ltd - a company established for the management of real estate on a fee or contract basis. Steve Harvey is also a Director of Graylands Farm Ltd - in the business of mixed farming - on land at the proposed North of Horsham development site.

I wrote to Mr Tom Crowley chief executive Horsham District Council ( 24.4.14) asking ‘Should this meeting really have been taking place in February 2014 when HDC was supposed to be objectively preparing its Proposed Strategy taking note of the public consultation and all the impact assessments being carried out?’ He replied the same day ‘I see no reason at all why the meeting should not have taken place’.

So the trip to Kent wasn’t just a ‘jolly’ at tax payers’ expense – Mr Crowley obviously regards this close association with potential developers as normal. This trip must have had a serious planning purpose.

As rate payers, shouldn’t we know what this was and how many more of these cosy meetings took place between elected councillors supposedly looking after our interest and developers/landowners who have a substantial financial interest in the project.

HDC refused to answer an FoI that would have clarified matters. There are no minutes of these meetings, no record of what was said or decided in planning terms. I explained to Mr Crowley that the trouble is with all the goings on at the council reported so well through your pages – the public is rapidly losing trust in the council it pays for.

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham