LETTER: Secret meetings over development

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I read Cllr Ray Dawe’s article (‘Councils, housing and their Plans’, WSCT, p89) with utter disbelief.

Despite Cllr Dawe having steadfastly refused to sign the WSCT’s Free Speech Charter he was permitted to write a half page propaganda piece on the planning process at Horsham District Council (HDC) as if the planning process that he, Cllrs Vickers, Helena Croft, Jim Rae and Philip Circus presided over should to be held up as a model of virtue and transparency.

This could be nothing further from the truth. We know, thanks to the expose in this newspaper, that dark political arts were used to get the housing plan to build in the Strategic Gap pushed through council as evidenced by the refusal of Cllr Dawe to hold a public meeting, the police being called to a meeting, a political show trial held, councillors punished and sacked from committees.

In an attempt to bring matters up to date on the machinations since councillors voted on the flawed plan on 30 April I made a Freedom of Information request (FoI) seeking to learn of meetings between HDC, Liberty and Crickmays.

The information shows that between 11 June and on 19 August 2014 there were six meetings between officers at HDC and West Sussex County Council (WSCC), Liberty and planning consultants.

The FoI response from HDC’s lawyer states that HDC does not hold any agendas, minutes or notes for any of the six meetings. That is despite the council meeting Liberty on average once every week during that period!

So the secret meetings at HDC continue. How can it be that meetings can be held on our public property by local civil servants and a large corporation (Liberty, USA) can take place without an agenda to at least warrant such meetings in the first place?

I wonder if Cllr Dawe and his deputy Cllr Croft, who is responsible for communications with the public, will come on 4 November to explain themselves and the number of secret meetings to the Inspector and the public inquiry?


Parry Close, Horsham