It comes as some surprise that our local MP Francis Maude, famous for having no views on any local issue outside of election time, found time to condemn Balcombe’s anti-fracking protesters in last week’s County Times.
Ordinarily when asked to engage with issues that are of great importance to Horsham residents; housing, leisure facilities and the criminal justice system to name just three, Mr Maude justifies his silence by claiming that the issues raised with him are of local concern and it is a matter for the council or local people to come to a considered position.
If Mr Maude’s model of localism is such an effective democratic tool he should encourage Cuadrilla to take notice of the views held by the vast majority of Balcombe’s residents and in so doing pack up their drill and look for an invite from a community which might welcome their activities, say somewhere like Dial Post. Instead he appears to use the localism argument as the basis to condemn the demonstrations, claiming that a local issue has been hijacked by those who are not from this area.
The truth of the matter is that fracking and the decision to embrace this technology is of national importance and it just so happens that the current frontline in this debate is taking place within our constituency.
I welcome the spotlight on this new technology that the demonstrators in Balcombe have so effectively shone, and also the considered pamphlet produced by members of the local Labour Party which has been widely distributed throughout Balcombe.
If Francis Maude is unable or unwilling to respond to national and local opposition to this issue, perhaps it is time for him to step aside and allow someone who is prepared to engage in discussion in a way that is appropriate to an elected representative.
Chair, Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham