This letter from The Haslemere Society appeared in the Haslemere Herald today.
Your comprehensive report in last week’s Haslemere Herald gave proper prominence to a decisive victory for the people of Haslemere in its tussle with Surrey County Council. So many people had said to us that, ‘There is nothing that we can do’. Together, as a town, we have shown that not to be the case.
It is surely remarkable that our locally elected councillors can assume that they can ignore the reasonable views of the residents they claim to represent, and still be confident that their views will prevail, however ill thought out they may be. The fact that Haslemere has won this battle should not be such a triumph, such a victory should be commonplace. In Farnham, the East Street debacle as well as the recently imposed unwelcome parking systems reveal that there is still much work to be done before representing the views of the majority becomes the norm for our councils.
The Herald has been a great source of information in our democratic struggle, and we are very grateful. When the Haslemere Society first became aware of the extraordinary proposals and arranged a town meeting on the 27th September last year, the strength of public opposition was clear. Fortunately the meeting was attended by a number of remarkable individuals who recognised the weaknesses of the democratic process and vowed to challenge the proposals. The filmed recording of that meeting was made available to council leaders.
The Action Group was spearheaded by Jeremy and Nikki Barton and the Haslemere Society has been delighted to work with them and several other highly motivated, articulate and able individuals. The Haslemere Parking website also made a big impact and Áine Hall’s work on that has been tremendous. The Society is proud to have played a key part in bringing about this heightened level of public awareness and glad that it has contributed to the success.
In all of this we should remember the few councillors who tried to inject some sense and reason: the Farnham councillor, Carole Cockburn, and the deputy Leader of Surrey County Council, councillor Peter Martin. However, the greatest accolade should go to David Hodge, the Leader of SCC, who has been constructive, approachable and accessible throughout. He has been sage and open-minded enough to recognise the flawed process which had started the bandwagon and to then take the robust decision to stop it rolling inexorably on.
The problem, of course, of the blight of all day on-street parking remains, but in the new spirit of co-operation, it can now be addressed in a holistic manner to the benefit of Haslemere residents, businesses and commuters.
Mrs Jane Stopford-Russell (Chairman, Haslemere Society )