When the latest In Touch leaflet from Tory councillors Rae and Baldwin popped through the letterbox, I wrote to them straight away, without even flipping the leaflet over. To their credit, they both came back to me very swiftly, but I was amazed by the range of far-fetched justifications they presented to me.
Cllr Baldwin (Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Environment) said: “I am not in favour of it (the North Horsham plan) and don’t want it to go ahead. I was sent or copied in on loads of emails from people objecting to any development. For the record, out of 2,200 homes in Holbrook East I heard from 56 households opposed to any development …”
I am still not sure why a good councillor holding these views would abstain on the key vote (in fact a “yes vote”). Why wouldn’t he vote “no”? I wonder if the leader Cllr Dawe would have kicked him off the cabinet and lost him his allowance?
Surely a man of conscience would have voted ‘no’ and retained our respect and undying loyalty. Why would he not have called a public meeting of East Holbrook residents to ask them for their views and to explain his apparent dilemma before 30th April?
Cllr Rae informed me: “The Strategic Site being the fields directly north of the A264 has been part of the Horsham District Planning Framework since at least 2009, this was subject to consultation back then and just 23 households across North Horsham objected to it at that time – having been made a strategic site in 2009 it has been open to development ever since then (NHPC have always been fully aware of this as have all HDC elected Members).”
All very well, but the Core Strategy clearly stated no development north of the A264 to maintain the strategic gap between Horsham and Crawley and avoid inevitable coalescence. George Osborne in his Mansion House speech proposes to strengthen the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requiring Inspectors to require brown field sites to be used before more green land is torn up. I cannot wait!
Cllr Rae went on to remind me of an earlier proposal for 4,000 houses at North Horsham with a hospital – which he in other writings has called a ‘bribe’. And indeed it was – because residents want better hospital infrastructure than we have at present. But an un-needed industrial park is scarcely an incentive in the same league is it? – we know it will never be built or occupied and will become another few thousand houses. He says that the council has challenged the Minister – but there is no evidence of who met whom, what was said etc. – It all seems very secret whilst other councils (Mid Sussex) have been much more transparent and even their MPs have joined the fight – which is more than we can say for Mr Maude.
I have been so disgusted at the leaky justifications offered to me by these public servants – echoed in their colourful A3 flyer going entirely against good sense and everything I have heard from local residents that I have mounted my own small campaign to increase transparency and help people to make their voices heard, which is of course the backbone of any democracy.
As a footnote, it was interesting that neither of these gentlemen mentioned the HDC planning portal where I could make my voice heard – I wonder If they wanted to keep me quiet…
Well they didn’t - we will help you get heard even if perhaps our Cllrs won’t go out of their way to do so – for help to navigate the HDC website and have your voice heard go to www.savingnorthhorsham.co.uk to join the discussion go to www.facebook.com/groups/NorthHorsham and to join the Twitter Storm @SaveNHorsham
Avebury Close, Horsham