Further to the Horsham District Council meeting of June 24, you have to hope it’s all down to the Law of Unintended Consequences. What?
Well, as a result of the County Times Free Speech Charter, local politicians have grabbed a sort of ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card.
If they can get themselves elected on a populist, ‘localist’ ticket of ‘Don’t Stick The Houses In My Patch, Stick Them In Billingshurst, Southwater, Rudgwick, Mayfield – Anywhere But Here’, then the elected rabble-rouser can point to his signed copy of the Charter and say he’s only doing what the electorate wants.
Maximum security prison? Stick it in Southwater. Nuclear power station? Stick it in Billingshurst. Second runway? Stick it in Rudgwick.
Two cheers for free speech. It’s a great way to get re-elected, but it does nothing for inter-community relations. The next time Councillor Christian Mitchell quotes Abraham Lincoln at a council meeting (24th June – ‘fooling some of the people some of the time’ etc.) let him remind his colleagues about a different one. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand’.
Maybe what we need is a first amendment that avoids setting one community against another and that, when faced with a common enemy, promotes a culture of unity rather than I’m all right, Jack.
Until then, perhaps in his next pre-meeting prayers, Canon Bridgewater could add a few words at the end, after he has finished praying for all the nice developers and contractors who are ruining our countryside.
How about this: ‘…And finally we pray for the communities on whom we are about to dump these unsuitable, unwanted, un-needed so-called developments. Father, forgive us.’
No? Thought not.
The Fieldings, Southwater
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