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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.


29 September 2012


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