LETTER: Bill to taxpayer for fighting taxpayer

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Residents were aghast that Horsham District Council (HDC) instructed the country’s leading planning QC to fight its own residents in order for Cllr Vickers to try to get her housing plan pushed through the planning Inspection.

This of course only benefited the councillors south of the district where no houses have been allocated. Even the proposed crematorium has been moved from the south of the district on the A272 into north Horsham.

If the plan was ‘sound’ as Cllr Vickers repeatedly claims through these pages that it is (despite the Inspector clearly saying that it is not) why could the council officers not defend it on their own as many residents had to do, unable to afford a planning barrister?

We also felt very unhappy that Mr Geoff Salter said he had known the QC, Mr Christopher Katkowski, for a number of years.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request was put into HDC, which revealed that for advice provided, by the QC on one day and for attending on three days of the public inquiry hearings, the total cost was £18,500 excluding VAT of £3,700. So the total cost to the tax payer was therefore £22,200.

This sickening sum of £22,200 for three days’ attendance at the EiP to fight the residents who elect the councillors must be seen in the context of figures from the Office for National Statistics that reveal the depths of low pay. Four in five new jobs are in sectors averaging under £16,640 pa for a 40-hour week. Working full-time on the £6.31 hourly minimum wage would gross just £13,124 in a year.

When there are food banks in Horsham just how out of touch with the public can our council leader Cllr Ray Dawe and his deputy Cllr Helena Croft get? They just don’t get it.

Since the main beneficiaries of the QC’s services seem to be in favour of the wards of Cllrs Dawe and Cllr Vickers – they should cover the bill.

And the money was wasted anyway since the Inspector has found the plan ‘not sound’ and the final vote on the housing plan will be taken by a new council elected on May 7 after another six months of work.

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham