No open debate on council plans

Dear Eric Pickles,

We read with interest your article in the Daily Telegraph where you state residents will have a say on local plans.

Your statement, ‘Wherever a local plan is drawn up, consulted on and agreed by local residents...’ is not what we are experiencing in Chichester.

To date Chichester District Council have not organised any forum for open debate on the proposed local plan. This evening we went to one of the venues advertised as providing the opportunity to speak to council officers about the plan. The session was advertised as running from 6pm to 8.30pm at Chichester City Assembly Rooms. We arrived at 8pm to discover the officers had already left and the venue comprised of a small table outside the Assembly Rooms in the middle of a fun run.

We have had many phone calls from disgruntled residents who are angry about CDC’s cavalier approach to the consultation. We understand from others the stand was manned by two ladies who had little knowledge of the plan and only a couple of copies of the actual draft plan to show people. This is a complete farce and not a democratic process.

You say people should have the right to help shape the plans affecting their district, yet councils are doing everything possible to avoid engaging with the residents and council taxpayers who elect councillors and pay officers’ salaries. We would expect at the very least the opportunity to attend an open meeting with presentations from the council on the local plan with time for residents to ask questions and air their views. Wouldn’t you agree?

We believe the current outrage expressed in the national press is well founded and represents the majority of people’s views. We would advise the Conservative party to take heed as these opinions will be reflected at the ballot box.

We are extremely concerned about the urbanisation of Chichester described by many as a jewel on the south coast. We would suggest you visit Chichester to experience Chichester District Council’s farcical consultation process first-hand.

David and Katherine Renton-Rose

Old Broyle Road Action Group