Letter: Thank you for speaking out

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Consideration of the location of the secondary school was given at the public planning inquiry last week.

The Inspector was clearly left pondering as to why the secondary school which was always planned for Southwater and as recently as a planning application in 2012 (pages 13-15) www.horsham.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/14772/REP-850118-006a-Berkeley-Strategic-HDC-DC-Committee-Report.pdf was now being moved seven miles north from Southwater to the Rusper roundabout and into the Strategic Gap.

Senior planning officer Mrs Childs was cross examined as to why the 20 year housing plan had changed so radically at the time of its publication in July 2013.

Former chief executive of Horsham District Council, Martin Pearson noted in his evidence that the cabinet member for planning (Cllr Vickers) is a local councillor for Southwater. He told the Inspector, the change of plan in 2013 was ‘political’.

The public in Horsham won’t forget that he had the courage to walk back into the council offices last week to tell the public inquiry exactly how it was. Thank you Mr Pearson for putting the people first!

And this is exactly what a few brave Conservative councillors (Cllrs Peter Burgess, Laurence Deakins, Liz Kitchen, Christian Mitchell, Josh Murphy, and Simon Torn) did when they argued against this ‘political plan’ from 2013 onwards.

But how were they treated for speaking the truth? Cllr Mitchell faced a political show trial ‘presided over’ by Cllr Ray Dawe and his deputy Helena Croft and then a ‘rump’ of the ruling cabal sacked him as chairman of the council and then as licensing chairman.

All Strategic Plans must have a clear line of logic - an audit trail, but sometime in early 2011 with an original strategic plan for 2,750 dwellings in Southwater created in 2007 based on evidence from 2005 and reaffirmed in 2009, the planned housing numbers for Southwater were subtly reduced to around 500.

This can first be traced to a Sustainability document that appears from the blue. Once Cllr Vickers’ ward had been saved and Council Strategic Planning meetings moved into secret (SPAG), the finger of planning could only point to North Horsham which was where the sham consultation of 2013 is rooted and blossomed five months later despite no public support by a repeat exercise asking the same question.

This is a disgraceful torturing of strategic planning and good sense. Not only does it offend intellect, ethics and morality, but it deprives the district of some £10m in community infrastructure money by moving over 2,000 properties from the viable designated spot in Southwater to an unsustainable floodplain in the North.

I do hope that Cllrs Dawe, Croft, Vickers, Rae and the then chairman of the council, Philip Circus (who helped push this through when he chaired council meetings) will consider their positions – if not perhaps the electorate will do it for them in May.

JONATHAN DANCER

Avebury Close, Horsham