Letter sent to Jeremy Hunt, 26th March 2012
Dear Mr Hunt,
As a foreigner living in England I have always regarded this country as an example of democracy, transparency, equality and respect. Where politics were done in an intelligent way and decisions were taken sensibly and responsibly. After attending the meeting of the Local Committee of Waverly on the 16th March however I do not know what to think of England anymore.
The Chairwoman of that meeting had an autocratic controlling manner more typical of a dictatorship than a democracy. Her treatment of those attending the meeting was patronising and disrespectful. She seemed to believe that dropping the Pay and Display element of the parking proposals would resolve any argument. Her behaviour from beginning to end was unacceptable. She said she had listened and understood the anger of the residents of Haslemere. Clearly she had not.
The report and recommendations delivered to the Committee were biased, incorrect and misleading as many residents pointed out. There was no engagement or discussion between the Chairman and the rest of the Committee. The members of the Committee did not seem to be interested or listening to the issues discussed. Someone mentioned after the meeting that they acted like nodding donkeys, I have to admit that from where I was seated it felt that way. For those Counsellors the issue may not be important and did not deserve their interest or attention, but for us, residents of Haslemere, it is a very significant issue that carries great consequences.
After the meeting I sent the Chairman an e-mail asking her for the reasons to drop Pay and Display in the town (I copied you in that e-mail), as there was no discussion at all at the meeting and the recommendation of the Officers was to implement Pay and Display. I think the residents of Haslemere deserve to know the reasons behind that decision, I am still waiting her response.
The whole SCC parking proposals for Haslemere have, since I became aware of them on the 13th of February, been a shambles. From the minimal formal publicity (only informally publicised thanks to the efforts of concerned residents and stakeholders), a totally inadequate consultation process, an inaccurate and biased final report, culminating in a meeting that I am sure that you would have been embarrassed to witness.
I have lived in England for almost seventeen years now. Ten of those years I spent working as a solicitor, mostly in the City. During that time I advised at all stages of dispute resolution including mediation and hearings before the High Court, Court of Appeal, the House of Lords and several international panels. For the last few years I have been involved as volunteer in several local charities and run my own business. I attended very difficult meetings during my professional career but I have never seen behaviour like the one I witnessed at that meeting by the Madam Chairman and the rest of the Committee.
Approximately 200 people attended that meeting. Like me, most of these people (and others that could not attend but have since heard about it) want to know what can be done to stop this unacceptable behaviour by those that claim to represent us. I can not believe you would want to be a party to the decisions that were “taken” at that meeting or the manner that they were taken.
I am not familiar with the process of the Local Committee and would like to know what we can do at this stage to stop any of the parking proposals going ahead until a body that is fit for purpose and interested is formed and a proper consultation undertaken. There are plenty of imaginative proposals to Haslemere parking problems (which must involve a long term view of the town), if only those that represent us were prepared to listen.
I would also like to know whether there is a democratic way to ask for the resignation of Chairwoman Councillor Pat Frost.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Name withheld, Haslemere resident