LETTER: Localism concept receives last rites

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Has the concept of ‘Localism’, so espoused by David Cameron four years ago, been totally abandoned?

One hears the odd whisper to suggest that it may still just be extant, but there remains no apparent mechanism whereby the ordinary citizen may express an opinion on an issue of local importance and expect that opinion to be given serious, or even any, consideration.

We are moving increasingly towards having referendums, rather than relying on the traditional democratic process, when we are faced by issues of national importance. What then should be the status of local petitions as a means of expressing local opinion? Should they carry weight with local politicians and councils?

The people of Southwater are not inherently radical in their opinions. They are a tolerant bunch in the main and they understand the perceived need the country has for new houses.

And yet every plan for further large housing development that has been presented to the village over the last five years has been so badly formulated and is so blatantly not what the village needs, that it has met with almost total opposition.

Consultation has been undertaken time after time but the results effectively ignored.

Today in Southwater we face yet another quintessentially ‘bad’ development with ludicrously inadequate road structure, and almost no infrastructure gain, which will overload our already malfunctioning sewage system that has caused so many so much misery for so long.

We are collecting a new petition that opposes this building. It already amounts to a substantial proportion of the voting population of the village and we will present it to Horsham District Council at the appropriate moment.

Will Berkeley Homes, the developer, take note? Will Horsham District Council and our three Southwater district councillors address their communities’ concerns rather than ignore them?

If not then we all have to acknowledge, with some sadness, that Localism has already received its last rites.

Dr IAN THWAITES

For Keep Southwater Green, Marlhurst, Southwater