‘Disempowered’ local demands to be heard

Hilde Morris outside Steyning Parish Council SUS-141014-101758001
Hilde Morris outside Steyning Parish Council SUS-141014-101758001

ONE WOMAN and her placard was the scene at this week’s Steyning Parish Council meeting in a bid to fight for her ‘civil liberties’ she claimed.

The silent protest took place prior to the council’s full parish meeting on Monday (October 13) as residents entered The Steyning Centre.

Hilde Morris, a local resident, held a placard that read ‘skatepark on the MPF now, democratic vote was yes’.

This message is in reference to last year’s referendum held on the parish council’s skatepark application proposed for the Memorial Playing Field (MPF).

Although residents marginally voted in favour of the plan in the town poll, the parish council were forced to withdraw its application last month due to the land’s Village Green status.

Mrs Morris said that her concern is ‘purely personal’.

“I’m feeling disempowered and disenfranchised. I lost my vote and I have to say this is not about Steyning and the skatepark, this is about the problem of civil liberties. I want to stand up and be counted.”

After the meeting, resident Mike Kelly said: “She feels democracy has been lost here and she wanted to do something. I think a lot of Steyning are feeling this way.”

Mr Kelly continued to say that there are more than 80 clubs for the elderly in Steyning, but very little for the youth.

However, objector to the council’s plan, John Catchpole, said: “I totally agree with democracy and the democratic view of people was heard from the survey in 2011, the poll last year was totally irrelevant.”

Following a long battle with local action group Friends of Memorial Playing Field (FoMPF), the parish council released a statement last month that it will not be able to ‘deliver skateboard facilities’.

Horsham District Council (HDC) advised the parish that it could not approve its planning application to build a skate park on MPF due to the Village Green status. The parish council is currently trying to remove the land protection order.

At Monday’s full parish council meeting, chairman Phil Bowell, said that the council does not intend to reinstate the skatepark application if the Village Green status is successfully lifted.