LETTER: Three weeks until plan is confirmed

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The WSCT has done an excellent job to highlight the failed processes at Horsham District Council (HDC) and the political machinations of Cllrs Ray Dawe, Helena Croft, Claire Vickers, Jim Rae and Brian O’Connell; however, all this attention mustn’t allow residents to take their eye off the ball– and I mean residents from all over the district, not just north Horsham.

There are just three more weeks left until the full council meets on Wednesday, 30 April at 6pm. At this meeting the Tory group, under Cllr Dawe’s damaged leadership, will present its final ‘Preferred Strategy’ – this will be a re-worked version of the draft Preferred Strategy which was agreed by council in July 2013 and then put out to consultation.

The consultation did much of the work for HDC by revealing the many flaws and inadequacies in the document. Impact assessments (traffic, environment etc.) will now have been done –thus ‘retro-fitting’ and manufacturing evidence that will be supportive to HDC’s master plan.

Knowing now much more of Cllr Dawe, as evidenced by his treatment of fellow Cllr Christian Mitchell, who spoke out against north Horsham development (WSCT, 6.3.14); no doubt, Cllr Dawe will try to make sure that he has a majority within his 33 Tory members (out of 44), despite those brave souls in his own party who will, I hope, vote ‘NO’.

He will of course be helped by the blind loyalty of Cllrs Rae and Croft who will choose to ignore their electorate in North Horsham, and will not have the courage and integrity to reject the plan. Then there will be all those councillors in the south who are loyal to Cllr Dawe because they believe their electorate will re-elect them again if they push all the houses to North Horsham.

But when it comes to the actual vote – all councillors have to go back to HDC’s Code of Conduct they signed up to when they were elected. Readers can see it all at http://www.horsham.gov.uk/council/members/1114.aspx then click ‘Part 5 of the Constitution’. There are requirements for councillors to uphold the virtues of ‘selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, leadership’.

So, when all councillors come to that point, where, having read all the documents thoroughly and noted all the reservations by the public during last year’s consultation, and every week since in WSCT, they will by law be required to ask themselves: ‘Is this plan sound in planning terms? Will an Inspector accept it as a sound proposal? Is it in the best interests of all residents in the District? Did I agree to the original draft preferred strategy last July with an open mind – did I understand all the implications at that time? Did I feel under any pressure to vote last July without all the facts and evidence?’

So, come on councillors across the District, you only have one chance, make up your own mind and do the right thing for the future of Horsham District - vote ‘NO’ to the Preferred Strategy – you know there are alternatives.

One thing is for certain, the electorate can be assured that the WSCT will provide full and unbiased coverage of the outcome from that council meeting.

G. CONSTABLE

The Castle, Horsham