LETTER: What is the point of consultation?

Your letters
Your letters

I wonder if I might vent my frustration through your letters page. I’ve just been reading the council’s answers to written questions posed by members of the public regarding Horsham District Council’s Preferred Strategy for future development.

The questions and answers can be found on HDC’s website. The answers are notable for their patronising arrogance.

Readers will remember that when HDC’s ‘preferred strategy’ (aka Liberty Trust’s plan for major development on the green fields of North Horsham) was first presented to the public for consultation, we were told (by councillor Jim Rae no less) that if we didn’t like it we should come up with an alternative for consideration.

Well, it was clear from the public’s response that the vast, overwhelming majority of local people did NOT like it.

So, a number of councillors came up with a well argued, perfectly sensible and definitely preferable alternative plan. North Horsham Parish Council also produced a third well reasoned option for consideration.

Surely, HDC could not renege on their promise to consider any alternatives put forward? Oh yes they could! In answer to two questions asking why the public were not being consulted about them and whether these alternative strategies would be considered by HDC and its planning officers, the response was, in effect, that as they were not ‘formal consultation documents prepared by the council’ they would not be considered. And anyway, the answer went on, ‘much of the content of the alternative strategies had already been rejected’.

So there we have it. Councillor Claire Vickers and her cohort will plough on regardless.

Their headlong rush to get the North Horsham development plan through will brook no opposition and alternative proposals will not be considered, despite previous undertakings to do this.

What on earth is the point of having a ‘public consultation’ if the public’s justified concerns are not addressed?

Oh… I know! It’s in order to be able to tick the inspector’s box that asks if there has been public consultation.

Doh!

SHEILA WHITE

Dorking Road, Warnham