Letter to Haslemere Herald – Democracy? Don’t make me laugh

This letter appeared in today’s Haslemere Herald:

 

Sir,

While I can understand the frustration expressed by last week’s correspondents at not receiving parking permits and restrictions as soon as they would like, whoever has fed them their information or whatever conclusions they have drawn from the reporting in the local press, I believe they have misunderstood the decision that was taken by David Hodge and the reasons for it.   The proposals have been delayed for a short period, not thrown out all together.  If anyone should be blamed for this delay it should be those in Surrey County Council who were responsible for the shoddy way the process was managed from the badly drafted proposals through the so called consultation culminating in the disastrously run Waverley Local Committee meeting on March 16th at which the various decisions were made.  The proposals evolved out of a money-raising exercise, not concern for residents; the consultation involved ‘private’ meetings at which people were not allowed to take notes and different groups were told different things according to which road they lived in; the report summarizing the results of the consultation was shockingly biased and inaccurate – I could go on.  When I tell you that the response to a phone call to the Surrey parking team asking if they had collected any evidence that ‘churn’ was a problem in the High Street was ‘we don’t need evidence, we have Cllr Renshaw, he knows the town well’ this about sums up their amateurism.  More worryingly, when the other councillors on the Committee were questioned about how involved in the decision making process they would be, most said they would leave it to Cllrs Frost and Renshaw.  Democracy?  Don’t make me laugh.

Just to be clear, the week before the Local Committee meeting, the Chair, Pat Frost, invited representatives of residents’ associations, local schools, local churches, the town council and the Chamber of Trade to meet with her to better understand the various viewpoints.  This meeting led to a decision to drop Pay & Display, which was announced at the March 16th meeting by Mrs Frost, who then belatedly asked for agreement from the committee.  The problem thereafter was that, if Pay & Display was removed from the proposed restrictions for some of the roads, these restrictions would have to be altered to take this into account.  We then witnessed Cllrs Renshaw and Frost rushing through the proposals for different roads, getting agreement for some but not others and the Officer, David Curl, making up time restrictions on the spur of the moment.  In some cases, inaccuracies in the report had to be pointed out to them by members of the audience.   When one of the committee members suggested that it would be more sensible to bring the proposals back to the next Local Committee meeting, which would give officers time to take into account the removal of Pay & Display, she was over-ridden by Cllr Frost without it being put to the rest of the Committee.  Some of your readers may call this democracy – I do not.

While it is completely understandable for people to want to park outside their homes and not have these spaces blocked by commuters, where do they think these people will go?  In the case of some roads, there are not enough spaces for all the residents as it is.  How is the permit process going to be managed?  There is a bigger picture here which must be addressed.  Any decisions need to be taken carefully, not rushed through or made up on the hoof.  The group of people, incidentally NOT led by Haslemere Society, who were involved in the meeting with Mr Hodge, did so not because of where they live or because of delusions of grandeur but because they believe in democracy and proper process.

Yours sincerely

Julianne Evans

President, Haslemere Chamber of Trade

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From: JL Nobbs [mailto: removed]

Sent: 21 June 2012 4:05 PM

To: editor@haslemereparking.com

Subject: letter to herald

Dear Editor

Please find my recent letter to the Herald attached!

Best wishes Julianne