LETTER: Panic solution is self-inflicted

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As I write on Monday morning there are 661 responses to the Horsham District Framework Draft Preferred Policy relative to the North Horsham Strategic Development.

Once all responses are posted this unprecedented contribution to a consultancy process will clearly top 1,000.

An analysis of the current number shows 97 per cent of respondents OBJECT to just three per cent who either support or observe.

Surely this must be considered as an overwhelming view against the proposals, and it is going to be very interesting to see the officer/political follow-up to a consultancy process to which we were all invited, and encouraged to partake in.

A real test of democracy I would suggest.

It is not all a matter of numbers. Anyone able to spend time reading the contributions will find that there is an abundance of quality in the views.

It has not been just a matter of saying NO, but reasoned arguments to support the contributions. If readers have little time to read everything, just read the responses by the Horsham Society, the RAGE group and the group led by Dr G. Richardson.

There is a resounding message that the Strategy is not fit for purpose, should immediately be withdrawn without wasting anymore time, and back to the drawing board.

I have been a fervent follower of the debate in your paper since the launch of the draft plan in August.

I can agree with much that Ronald Vimpany says in ‘Letters’ 17 October, except I would disagree that this has been as balanced as it should be.

Sure there has been plenty of space provided for all sides including an abundance of letters. What has been lacking, in my view, are balanced editorials and only two front page stories in 12 weeks.

Surely these proposals are more important for the future of Horsham than the many stories that have taken front stage over this period.

In the editorial (WSCT 3 October) praise is administered on councillors Dawe and Vickers, together with CEO Tom Crowley for potentially turning around the need for special measures by central government due to planning failures.

What is missing is the fact that it was the leadership of the HDC that resulted in this mess in the first place. The continual haemorrhaging of quality planners, with all the reorganisations and resultant expensive severance packages that have taken place have clearly impacted, and now there is panic to get a Development Strategy approved as so much time has been wasted - a Strategy which most consider inept and unfit for purpose. The problem of a panic solution is self-inflicted.

I would have expected the editorial of this newspaper to have exposed and questioned why the council leadership refused to hold a public meeting in the town centre as requested by the Horsham Society and other correspondents.

Finally, isn’t a worrying and sad state of affairs when the highly respected previous leader of the council, and currently chairman of the Development Control North committee, along with her non-cabinet colleagues, are not even consulted prior to the launch of the plan. [see WSCT 17.10.13 Cllr Liz Kitchen]?

What an opportunity for some investigative journalism!

BRIAN JOHNSON

Langhurstwood Road, Horsham