LETTER: Conversation with MD of Liberty

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Cllr Jim Rae [Holbrook East] posted on his Facebook account, 1 May 2014, that during the ‘comfort break’ at Horsham District Council meeting on 30 April 2014 - and just before the vote on Horsham District Council’s Proposed Strategy - he spoke with Andrew Blevins, managing director of Liberty UK, a subsidiary of an USA corporation.

Cllr Rae writes that during that conversation he was told that Liberty would be making a planning application around July this year.

Why was Jim Rae chatting to the managing director of the company behind the plans for North Horsham during the council meeting and not similarly meeting with the objectors, who were in the chamber that evening? Where’s the equality?

Why did he only reveal the contents of this discussion after the council meeting, but not in his speech that he delivered after the break?

Cllr Rae has never come to meet RAGE or Save Horsham or local residents since the plan was published last August, and to listen to their concerns over Cllrs Clare Vickers, Ray Dawe and Helena Croft’s plan to build in the strategic gap, thus breaking the HDC promise made to the people of Horsham over 20 years ago, that the A264 marked the boundary of Horsham, and that this would not be violated.

Perhaps Jim Rae will explain why he approached Andrew Blevins during the council meeting and why he didn’t think it proper to ask questions to one of the council’s planning officers who were at the meeting. In that way all councillors and the public would have heard the answer.

Is this not yet another procedural flaw that must be brought to the Inspector’s attention at the future public inquiry?

Jim Rae has clearly been a supporter of this massive development since day one when he first waxed lyrical about the industrial and warehouse park in this newspaper on 4 July 2013 with leader Ray Dawe.

It sounds as though he made his mind up then and has closed his mind to any counter argument or proposal since.

This is not how to represent the people and not how to run this council.

BRIAN JOHNSON

Langhurstwood Road, Horsham

Editor’s note: Jim Rae was offered the chance to respond to the issues raised in this letter. Mr Rae said: “The letter implies that I was acting improperly by having a private conversation with Andrew Blevins. Nothing could be further from the truth and I object to having my good name besmirched in the press. I have sought to represent residents’ views at all times and I believe that my conduct has been entirely appropriate. If anyone feels otherwise then they should make a complaint through the correct channel which is to Horsham District Council in writing either by post or by email. The complaints procedure is freely available on the Council’s website by visiting http://www.horsham.gov.uk/files/Standards_Guidance_for_Potential_Complainants_13.pdf). Further, members of the public are able to express their views on the Proposed Submission during this period of representation. A summary of issues raised will be considered as part of the Public Examination by an Independent Planning Inspector.”