ARUN CONFIRMS THAT THEIR CONSULTATION IS MEANINGLESS
Arun District Council's Scrutiny Committee examines whether Cabinet member has prematurely
spent taxpayers' money
£15,000 study commissioned on housing development before results of public consultation
Cabinet member confirms that decision on development has been taken regardless of
Scrutiny Committee accepts this and approves his action
Arun District Council's Special Overview Select Committee has confirmed that Cabinet
member Ricky Bower was right to agree the spending of up to £15,000 on a 'Visioning
Study' for a housing development which the public might reject.
This development is for more than 2,000 homes between Eastergate/Westergate and Barnham
and is highly controversial. It is included in the Draft Local Plan for which the
consultation period has just closed, but Arun has not yet evaluated the results.
Inevitably, it is highly likely that the public will reject such a large development
in that location.
Regardless of this, on 6th September Cabinet member for Planning and Infrastructure,
Councillor Ricky Bower approved the spending of up to £15,000 for planning development
briefs which have the potential to be useless and a waste of money if the public
consultation shows the development should not be pursued.
Arun District Councillors Charles, Nash, Mrs. Goad and D. Maconachie felt this was
wrong and asked the Select Committee to review this decision and decide whether it
should be reconsidered. This Committee is intended to 'police' Council decisions,
although many have questioned as to whether the Council can effectively regulate
itself in this manner.
During the debate Councillor Bower argued that the decision for that development
had been taken three years ago and that the consultation would therefore make no
difference - and that he was therefore right to do this. Also, that if the Council
did not proceed with this study it would delay the Local Plan, which would create
further difficulties for the Council.
Committee members complained that they had been put in an impossible situation by
this, in that they were being asked to approve a decision to ignore the potential
outcome of the consultation process, which would send an extremely negative message
to the public.
But in the end they voted to do just that by a small margin, with several members
abstaining. This did not go down well with occupants of the public gallery, including
ex-Councillor Harold Hall and several members of the Villages Action Group.
"This just confirms what we all knew," said David Statham of Eastergate, "that Arun's
consultation is a total sham and they've no intention of listening to the public
at all. And that Committee is no better - they've voted for expediency instead of
doing the right and proper thing, which is what Arun does all the time. No wonder
it is so disliked right across the district."
Further detailed comments from Barnham Parish Council can be found on their blog
by clicking here.