This morning, I in common with other residents of Mole Valley received a letter headed “Your chance to help decided where new homes should be built.”
This is all very well, and maybe the Council Officers will pay regard to public consultation. But the final word rests with our elected councillors. Not so long ago, without any similar prompting from the Council, more than three hundred people wrote to the Council with their views concerning an exclusive golf course and luxury hotel on the Cherkley estate. Two thirds of those letters opposed the development. The Council Officers no doubt took that into consideration when producing their report, praised by Justice Haddon-Cave, to reject Longshot’s proposals.
Did our elected representative take note of public opinion? No; the majority ignored public representation and thought they knew better than their officers. What guarantee is there that elected councillors will not disregard public opinion again?
One councillor recently said he would be listening to the public. But the evidence so far is not encouraging. Despite widespread opposition to the Council going to the Court of Appeal over the recent Cherkley decision, the councillors voted to do so. When the LRA held a packed meeting on 2nd December at which we had presentations by Mr Rowland McKinney concerning the Green Belt and by the Save South Leatherhead and the Poors’ Allotment groups, our District Councillors were noticeable by their absence! It is true, there were apologies received from two of them, but not the proverbial dicky bird from the others!
Besides, we poor members of the public do not have proper information. We read at the beginning of the second paragraph in the Council’s letter: “The main objective is to prevent inappropriate development in the Green Belt … .”
But, as I have pointed out before, the Secretary of State rejected the application for five traveller families having their temporary permission to occupy 4.7 hectares of Green Belt being made permanent because it would cause “substantial harm to the green belt.” If this is so, then I completely fail to see how Mr Pickles could allow any residential development of the Green Belt.
- We need to know by what criteria Mr Pickles deemed occupying 4.7 hectares of Green Belt would cause substantial damage.
- We need to know, therefore, by what criteria any of the Green Belt can be deemed appropriate for residential development.
As we’ve have seen both with the Cherkley Court application and with the Randalls Road travellers’ application, the elected councillors can override Officer’s recommendations; and with regard to the latter application, we , we saw that the Secretary of State can call an application in at the request of our local MP. So I ask two further questions:
- Why should those same councillors not similarly override whatever recommendations are produced as a result of this current consultation?
- How can the Council retain control of where development takes place if, at the request of our MP, the Secretary of State can call an application in?
I understand that following the Consultation Weekend in July, Longshot Country Club Ltd is holding another presentation on Friday 14th October & Saturday 15th October at Cherkley Court from 10.00 am till 1.30 pm.
Surrey County Council will shortly be consulting on bus service changes in Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Waverley and some services in Guildford. This will be phase 3 of the County Councils 3-year Bus Review Programme, which started in 2010.
We will run a three-month public consultation from 1 November 2011 to 31 January 2012 for your comments on the proposals that we put forward. Comments from the actual bus users form an important part of the process and will assist us in designing the revised network. We would therefore like to hear your comments and views.
Feedback from the consultation process and the costs of the revised services will then be included in a proposal that will be submitted to Surrey County Council’s cabinet, who will make the final decision. Changes to services will take effect in September 2012.
From 1st November 2011 details about the proposals to bus services, how to feed your comments in to the review and further information about the review process will be available at www.surreycc.gov.uk/busreview. This website will also have details on the consultation sessions that will be held locally to discuss the proposals and listen to your individual views and suggestions.
Yesterday I received the following from Louise Bircher of Mole Valley District Council:
I am hoping to canvass your and your residents’ views on how Mole Valley District Council uses social media please. By this I mean our website (www.molevalley.gov.uk), Twitter (@molevalleydc), Facebook (facebook.com/molevalleydc), YouTube and, more recently QR codes. We are wanting to engage with as wide range an audience as possible so, in addition to the traditional methods of magazine, leaflets, posters and information available over the telephone and face to face, we are also making use of these aforementioned social media engagement tools.
Our Twitter and YouTube accounts have been live for about six months and our followers are steadily growing. I would like to know whether or not you and your residents make use of these forms of communication and whether you find them useful? Are there other forms of social media you would like to see us using? Or could we use what we use now more effectively?
I would be most grateful if you could encourage your residents to consider this and let me have their views – perhaps through your newsletter if one is imminent or via your website or whatever means you consider appropriate…
Louise would like to collate all responses by Friday 20th May. If you have any observations please add them as comments.