24,000 people living in the unparished areas of Horsham town centre - Denne, Forest and Trafalgar - lack political representation, according to those behind establishing a new ‘Horsham Blueprint’.
Frances Haigh (LDem, Horsham Park) hopes there will strong support at a meeting tonight where a new Neighbourhood Plan will be discussed. (5.30pm Park North, Horsham District Council, North Street, Horsham)
“The Localism Act has given lots of powers to communities and in parished areas it is easy to use those powers, but [in Horsham town centre] we can only make use of them by forming a Forum.
“I think many people in the town have concerns about what is happening in their road, with shops, community centres and other various issues, and they would like to have their say.”
Implied by the town councillor’s argument is a lack of political representation for those living in the unparished areas.
With no Horsham Town Council existing, the population is only represented at district and county level.
Asked if the Forum, which would lead to a Neighbourhood Plan, could actually make a difference, Mrs Haigh said: “I certainly hope so because we keep running into problems when we can’t get things done in the town because everything that we try to do has to go through the district council.”
The Liberal Democrat compared this to parish councils which have ‘a certain amount of autonomy and get things done’.
“There hasn’t been sufficient representation,” she added.
“It is up to the community now to come up with the ideas so we work from the bottom up and not from the top down.”
The leader of Horsham District Council, Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), said he agreed with this approach and that the council was supporting the initiative financially.
However, he did dispute the assertion there were problems getting things done under the current system, referring to the regeneration of West and East Street and the ‘constant things that happen in the town’.
Mr Dawe also raised concerns in respect of the cost of any new representative body saying the present levy on the unparished areas of around £20 per household is nothing like the average parish council precept of about £50 for a band D property.
The leader also reminded that any plan devised by the Forum must also be accepted by his council and work in relation to other neighbourhood plans being formulated district wide.
What do you think? Are those who live in Denne, Forest and Trafalgar under-represented politically? What would you like to see in any Neighbourhood Plan for Horsham town centre?
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