In the November issue of ‘The Cherkley Express’ Mary Graham shows familiarity with the LRA Code of Conduct, but not with much else. She will find from proper reading of the Association’s minutes that “leading members of the Cherkley Campaign” did declare their interests and did not vote on the decision to oppose the Longshot application.
It was explained in the the LRA Spring Newsletter of this year why the decision was taken and made clear that the Committee had not been unduly lobbied by just one side. The decision was taken on planning grounds as a result of a report prepared by the LRA Planning Subcommittee whose members had each spent several hours poring over the voluminous documented submitted for this complex application. This examination of the proposal and the subsequent report was made before anyone from the Cherkley Campaign was known to the Committee.
As for the complaint made by the LRA Planning Subcommittee about Cllr Dickson, this was about meetings of the LRA on July 4thand September 5th 2011 and of the Leatherhead & District Forum on July 13th 2011. All these meetings took place well before any Cherkley Campaign member was involved in the LRA.
Ms Graham claims that the plans were “debated in minute detail, not once but twice, by the Development Control Committee.” That was not our perception of the debates. The Council Officers had indeed examined the plans in minute detail and had recommended their rejection. Ms Graham fails to mention that when they were debated the first time by the Development Control Committee (DCC), the Officers’ recommendation was rejected by just one vote, and that included the vote of the Chair who declared which way she intended to vote before the members of the DCC cast their votes, i.e. without the Chair’s vote there would have been a tie. One would have expected in that situation that the Officers’ recommendation would have been accepted and that the Longshot proposals would go to appeal.
The second meeting of the DCC had no option after this first vote but to decide the conditions which would be attached to approval of the plans.
Ms Graham states, incorrectly, that “[a] A long serving and popular Councillor has been independently investigated by a highly qualified and experienced legal officer and found to be entirely innocent of all allegations.” As the legal officer’s report is confidential, one wonders how she can state this so authoritatively. This incorrect information is repeated at greater length on page 2. The report does not clear Cllr Dickson of the seven complaints; it merely states the legal officer did not find clear evidence that Cllr Dickson had contravened the MVDC Code of Conduct.
It is our opinion that in view of the repeated misrepresentation of the report, both by Cllr Dickson herself and by The Cherkley Express, that the report should be put into the public domain so that people can judge the truth of these claims themselves.
The claim from an unnamed local resident that “officers at MVDC have spent hours responding to a mountain of correspondence from the seven individuals who lodged the original complaints” is laughable. We know this not to be true.
Page 3 reminds us that our MP, Sir Paul Beresford intervened to ask the Secretary of State not to call in the application. Once again an opportunity for this contentious plan to be decided by an independent outside party was rejected. If the Longshot proposals are really so wonderful, why are their supporters so desperate to see that the decision remains in
? Mole Valley
Then page 4 gives us the final insult. We have a ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture. The golf course has not been constructed; there can be no ‘after’ other than an artist’s impression, for what it is worth. Do those responsible for The Cherkley Express really expect people to believe that the countryside will still look the same after a golf course is constructed?
Civic Trust member.