Since Cllr Dawe, leader of Horsham District Council (HDC) and his deputy Helena Croft, continue to refuse to sign the Free Speech Charter (unlike West Sussex County Council leader, Cllr Louise Goldsmith), and despite Mr Dawe still being afforded a fortnightly column in this paper, he fails to use it to tell the public any useful information about the council.
Writing about his neighbour in France and the Scottish Referendum, as he has done in the past, is just no good. This leaves many residents like myself having to resort to using Freedom of Information requests (FoI) to learn about the secret goings on at HDC, particularly over the local housing plan.
I have submitted a FoI to both HDC and WSCC in an attempt to learn of meetings they may have had with Liberty (USA) and the purpose of them. HDC refused to provide any detailed explanation of the meetings unlike WSCC.
WSCC’s reply regarding a transport meeting held between planning officers of HDC, WSCC and Liberty and their planning agents is enlightening regarding Liberty’s ‘proposed’ railway station at North Horsham.
The meeting held on 23 September 2014 (of which HDC wouldn’t give me any details but WSCC have) was to: ‘to discuss scope and methodology for a Transport Assessment, to be prepared by Peter Brett Associates acting for Liberty Property Trust, to support a forthcoming planning application for development at North Horsham’.
So first of all, despite the Inspector at this point not having approved Cllrs Vickers’, Dawe, Croft and Rae’s housing plan, we now know from this FoI that Liberty are putting in a planning application already. Isn’t’ that rather jumping the gun?
The WSCC officer wrote: ‘The meeting on 23 September at HDC’s offices relates to work by Liberty and their transport consultant Peter Brett Associates for a business case for a proposed Horsham North Parkway railway station which would serve the proposed North Horsham development and the surrounding rural area.’
WSCC’s weak words in their précis of the meeting reveal that this station isn’t ever going to happen: ‘This business case would be submitted by Liberty Property Trust – or their representative – to Network Rail, at such time as they wish to pursue the implementation of the station. This is not necessarily tied to the submission of the planning application, for the North Horsham development and does not inform the HDPF.’
So we now know that any detailed planning application made by Liberty will not have a railway station as part of it. Further, the station isn’t part of the matters to inform the Inspector during the public inquiry.
Evidently the meeting held on 23 September 2014 brought a dose of realism to the table regarding the railway station. But just six weeks later Cllr Jim Rae (Holbrook East) was again writing in this paper (30.10.14, Horsham edition, p38) about how the proposed industrial and warehouse park with a railway station was such a good idea – despite not one single company having stated their intention to move to it.
Cllr Jim Rae should be telling the public the reality, as revealed in this FoI, and not what he wants the public to believe.
Parry Close, Horsham