Employees of a Southwater business have been subjected to ‘despicable intimidating behaviour’ from residents, according to staff.
Nursing Hygiene Group’s bid to change the conditions governing the operating hours of its headquarters in the village’s Oakhurst Business Park was accepted by Horsham District Council’s development control north committee last Tuesday.
But employees said it had experienced ‘resistance, scrutiny and espionage’, with their staff reporting ‘intimidatory behaviour’ from residents such as tailgating when driving.
Lloyd King, who works at NHG, told the meeting his ‘blood ran cold’ at the thought of the company having to leave Southwater if restrictions on the site’s operation were not eased, but fellow staff had experienced ‘despicable intimidating behaviour’.
NHG’s Ken Morren explained that the company had far tighter restrictions on its operations than other firms in the business park and felt they ‘bordered on prejudice and discrimination’.
He added: “We are not asking for no conditions, we are asking for conditions to be reasonable for both parties.”
However Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater) said the company had chosen to build their unit closest to residential properties and residents had a right to their private lives without disturbance from loading vehicles reversing late at night or early in the morning.
She added: “I can well understand the frustration of residents when no action has been taken for breach of conditions.”
Revised conditions set hours for the use of vehicles and machinery in the service yard, and stated that operations could take place indoors outside those hours if the roller doors were closed.
John Chidlow (Con, Southwater) said he sympathised with the residents, but did not see any planning grounds to reject the application, suggesting effective enforcement action was the real answer.
Jonathan Dancer (Con, Roffey North) felt it was up to them to put in sensible conditions, and the ones being proposed looked sensible, but neighbourly behaviour had to be reciprocal between the business and residents.
If the intimidation continued he suggested it might be an issue for the police to investigate.
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