A Steyning resident has criticised the local parish council for holding a meeting that excludes the public and press.
Prior to the council meeting which was held on Monday (August 11), Trevor Cree, a local resident, said in a letter to the press that the parish intends to hold a ‘secret’ meeting to discuss a controversial skatepark application that the parish has submitted to Horsham District Council (HDC) proposed for the Memorial Playing Field.
In his letter, Mr Cree refers to The Local Audit and Accountability Act becoming law this year, which allows sound recordings at public meetings.
Mr Cree stated: “The Act protects the public, councillors and the parish clerks from the wilful distortion or omission of the words actually spoken at council meetings.
“Within days of the Act becoming law the parish council has decided to hold a meeting on the controversial Memorial Playing Field skatepark that will exclude both the public and the press.”
In response a Steyning Parish Council representative said: “The parish council is embracing the new regulations regarding the recording of public meetings, but the official record of any meeting will still be the signed and approved minutes.
“The parish council’s decision to hold an ‘extraordinary meeting’ had nothing to do with the Local Audit and Accountability Act becoming law. Councillors are acting responsibly, in the interests of the whole community, and in keeping with Standing Orders, holding a confidential meeting to protect the names of members of the public and to discuss legal issues regarding the skatepark that come under legal privilege.”
Following its refusal for planning permission by HDC earlier this year, the parish also confirmed that it will have nothing to do with FoMPF’s separate application for a skatepark at Steyning Leisure Centre if it is later approved by HDC.