This letter appeared in the Haslemere Herald yesterday:
Dear Mr. Spratley, Mr. Scudder and Mr/s. J. Govier,
We wanted to write in response to your respective letters published in the Haslemere Herald last week and say that we actually agree with much of what you write. Although your letters highlighted different points concerning the Surrey County Council parking proposals for Haslemere, allow us to respond jointly for the sake of completeness.
We totally share your desire for transparency and democratic process. You will have noticed that these are two of the central points we have been making for several months. We recognise that your experience has been that the consultation conducted up to January this year was transparent and democratic. Unfortunately, this good experience was not shared by others and the legal discrepancies in the process, together with the meeting’s governance failings, invalidated the approvals announced (many were not in fact voted upon) at the Waverley Local Committee meeting on 16th March and so we are where we are.
We also share your concern that proposals should enjoy the support of a majority of those that they impact upon. If you were at the meeting of the Waverley Local Committee, you will have seen that we expressed and fully supported the need for the views of affected residents, churches and schools, among others, to be taken fully into account – something that was publicly acknowledged by officers not to have been the case. By way of example, the church parish council had not been consulted about proposals on St. Christopher’s Green that directly impacted St. Christopher’s Church and those that attend services and events there; and there were many other examples.
We also fully agree with you (and with the Town Council) that the process of engagement must involve all affected residents and groups. This is why the group that wrote to David Hodge after the March 16th committee meeting was a much broader group than you indicate. It included residents of several roads directly and indirectly affected by the proposals, school and church representatives, Chamber of Trade representatives, as well as other members of the community and its organisations. In some respects, it was merely a subset of the 4,636 signatories to the petition against the proposals and who had attended the March 16th meeting. The meeting with David Hodge was not a secret meeting, but simply his coming to meet with those who had written to him, and was even openly reported in the Herald on May 25th.
On one point we would have to disagree with views expressed in the Herald, however. There has been no desire on our part to cause additional stress or frustration within Haslemere and especially not for those streets and roads that have waited a long time to resolve their clear parking issues. This is why, at every stage, we have highlighted the need for immediate attention to be paid to those streets. We stated this as the first item in a written proposal prepared for a meeting on March 6th with the Chair of the Waverley Local Committee before the March 16th meeting, but which she would not let us present. We stated it in our comments to the Haslemere Herald published on May 25th and in other statements to the press. We have emphasised it in all discussions with David Hodge and his senior officers. As a result SCC’s public statement expressly expects “the community to promote proposals for specific and immediate needs”.
One reflection that we have had on how we’ve arrived at where we are today, including the tensions expressed in your letter, is that the original proposals (including of course the specific proposals for your own road) were always presented in a package with the town-wide pay-and-display. They had not been fully considered without the accompanying pay-and-display bays or with other viable options for parking controls. This became all too obvious at the Local Committee meeting when piecemeal proposals were put forward and which SCC now recognises should be properly reviewed. It was also apparent that in seeking to provide a solution for some residents, the problems were actually made worse for others.
In terms of bringing these things to conclusion, the way forward that we have pushed hard for at SCC is a transparent and democratic process – one in which all stakeholders will be involved, including every resident or property that could be affected directly or by displacement impact – something that was not the case in the previous attempts at consultation. Rather than a series of closed bilateral agreements, the consultation will be more encompassing and engaging, as it should have been from the outset.
Lastly, thank you for sharing your feelings so clearly and making us aware of the various misperceptions that have arisen. We are actually in much more agreement than some might have us believe!
Jerry Barton Nikki Barton
From: Nikki Barton [mailto:removed]
Sent: 22 June 2012 3:58 PM
Subject: Letter from Action group
Please find attached letter as published in the Herald of June 22nd for inclusion on the website.