What an unfortunate letter Cllr Jim Rae wrote last week (Horsham edition, p38) attacking Cllr Frances Haigh like that.
Although politicians may disagree with one another from time to time, I can’t understand why Cllr Rae devotes eight paragraphs to publicly lashing out at her. I fully agree with the comments of John Steele in his letter (Horsham, p38) when he said that castigating Cllr Frances Haigh for speaking her mind is wrong. Cllr Rae, if he wants to be re-elected next year, would be wise to head John Steele’s advice.
But Cllr Rae is wrong not just in the tone of his letter but the content too. He says that North Horsham has been identified as a site for development for ‘around five-plus years’.
This statement doesn’t accord with the facts and his previous public statements on the matter. Cllr Helena Croft (Roffey North) said at the meeting of the General Practitioners (GPs) on 20 April 2013: ‘One of the advantages of the North Horsham project is its deliverability.
It will be very difficult to deliver this, politically, without the provision of a hospital.’ (WSCT, 25.4.13, p38)
After that GP meeting, Cllr Rae wrote on his Facebook page: ‘The West Sussex County Times asked whether the possible provision of a new hospital within the proposed North Horsham development was ‘a bribe’, of course it was’. He said the failure of the hospital plan is ‘Very bad news for Horsham District as the hopes and aspirations of a decade have been dealt the cruel blow by our residents’ own doctors, not the politicians.
However, as the GPs have apparently killed any hope of that ‘bribe’ materialising it is possibly a massive relief for the residents of North Horsham.’
Cllr Rae concluded by writing: ‘Without a full NHS funded A&E receiving hospital I cannot see how such a huge development (4,500 houses) can be justified - can you?’
A further fact ‘forgotten’ by Mr Rae is that the 2009 Core Strategy Review fundamentally rejected North Horsham as a site for development.
The clear and fundamental reasons are at p36 of that report voted upon by councillors. One of the many reasons for rejection included the adverse effects on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also the loss of the A264 as a defining boundary to protect the Strategic Gap.
The erosion of this boundary will inevitably lead to pressure by developers to expand further north and east until there is eventual coalescence with Crawley.
Cllr Rae can attempt to re-write planning history at HDC in an attempt to get himself out of the hole that he has dug for himself but the facts are there in public documents from which he cannot escape.
The public will not allow Cllr Rae and other senior Tories (Cllrs Dawe, Vickers, Croft) to wriggle out of their responsibility for what they have done when it comes to the May 2015 District Council elections.
Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON
Tennyson Close, Horsham