LETTER: Public denied an open debate

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I sat in the opening session of the public inquiry and couldn’t believe what I was hearing when Cllr Vickers made an opening statement saying that there had been very full and detailed consultation with the public. This is totally at odds with the facts.

At its meeting of Council on 23 September 2011 Horsham District Council (HDC) adopted and voted upon its Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) which allowed the public to attend meetings of the strategic planning group.

However, Cllr Vickers, immediately upon her appointment to the cabinet by leader Cllr Ray Dawe and his deputy Cllr Helena Croft, following the sudden departure of Cllr Howard immediately moved PPAG into closed session.

Cllr Vickers told this paper (30.06.13): ‘Since becoming the cabinet member for living and working communities, I have realised that we need to be able to have a more open and frank debate at our Strategic Planning Advisory Group meetings. I have therefore decided that we will no longer be holding SPAG meetings in public, as per other advisory groups of Horsham District Council.’

And secondly, despite the Horsham Society and residents calling for a public meeting to consider Cllr Vickers’ housing plan, residents were unilaterally denied such a meeting.

During a ‘live Facebook chat’ on 8 October 2013 Cllr Vickers said in answer to the question as to why she was refusing to hold a public meeting: ‘I have found that constructive debates that I’ve been holding with smaller groups of people have been more beneficial than having a large scale public meeting, which is invariably dominated by those with the loudest voices.’

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham