When is a ‘public meeting’ not what it says on the packet? When it is a ‘meeting in public’. The difference is important.
Councillor Vickers has decided (no doubt assisted by councillors Dawe, Croft and Rae) that the public can’t just turn up to a meeting with councillors and ask whatever they wish or say whatever they want to say – that probably is a ‘consultative public meeting’. That might be dangerous and the police would need to be on hand.
But the public can be invited to turn out on a probably cold, wet February evening to a meeting of her Planning Policy Advisory Group and submit ten questions.
These questions have to be sent in to Horsham District Council two days in advance so that the quartet can pick the questions that will cause them least grief and the officers can prepare answers for councillor Vickers – maybe some of the very staff councillor Vickers’ cabinet are to make redundant.
Then she will subject the hapless audience to three presentations by carefully picked ‘experts’ charged, after the event, with trying to justify the flawed Draft Preferred Strategy.
We can be sure these ‘experts’ will try to present a case that councillor Vickers and her colleagues will claim have soothed the fears of those gathered and send them all away happy.
The meeting is at 5.30pm, an impossible time for many families with young children and those who get home after commuting.
Those attending the Council Chamber and the overspill area of the Capitol will of course have to pay for parking with the new extended charges at the council offices.
But the timing is to suit councillor Vickers not Horsham residents so councillor Vickers will be able to tell the world and the inspector that she held a ‘public meeting’ or ‘meeting in public’ as part of her consultation.
But it all looks like a sham. It’s all too little too late!
Owlscastle Close, Horsham