Haslemere Herald letter: Wey Hill Fairground Inquiry – a lack of democracy

The Editor Haslemere Herald

Dear Sir

Wey Hill Fairground Inquiry – a lack of democracy

Those of us who objected to Waverley Borough Council’s (WBC’s) application to refurbish the Wey Hill Fairground car park have recently heard from the Planning inspectorate (PINS) advising that the public inquiry into the WBC proposals will be heard in the Borough Hall in Godalming On 8TH   – 10TH April 2014.

May I remind your readers that Waverley BC proposes to spend £344,000 on covering the fairground car park with some form of surfacing material in order to ‘improve’ the use as a car park. It has said that it has no plans to charge – at present – but the works will include infrastructure to support the installation of parking ticket machines. The £344,000 spend was agreed by the Executive after reviewing service plans that forecast future annual parking revenues of £100,000.  The car park is registered as Common Land and ownership was transferred from Haslemere Urban District Council to WBC on local government re-organisation in 1974.

The subject affects very many of us and is of absolutely critical importance for Haslemere.  The idea of holding a public inquiry not here, but in Godalming, a town 10 miles distant, is completely unacceptable.  The fact that 300 residents objected to WBC’s application to refurbish the car park indicates the strength of feeling and gives some indication of how many may wish to speak.

Have Waverley officers made any effort to investigate the availability of Haslemere’s  local venues?  We have many large and suitable premises in the town: Haslemere Hall, Our Lady of Lourdes Church hall, indeed any of the schools whose halls will be available at the proposed time of the inquiry (in the Easter holidays).   It appears that the venue chosen by WBC gives the council a strategic advantage by limiting the number of objectors who will wish to speak AND it is far more convenient for WBC too.   To many minds that is completely unacceptable.

If WBC insists on holding the inquiry (having set aside £30,000 towards the cost), then in the interests of democracy it must be held in the town where the decision will have the most impact.   That is the least the Borough Council can do.

Yours faithfully

Robert Serman

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Robert Serman <removed>
Date: Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 8:04 AM
Subject: A denial of democracy
To: editor@haslemereparking.com

Dear Ed

As promised, the letter to Haslemere Herald re the fairground inquiry venue.
Please wait until it is in the paper today!

Best wishes

Robert