Craig McGowan’s letter last week perfectly illustrated what we have had to put up with from the Tory party in recent years: A ‘we know best’ attitude, the propagation of misinformation, statements made without any supporting evidence and personal character attacks on those who have the temerity to challenge them. He is right in one respect, it would have been much better to have had many more than the 700 responses to the Haslemere Vision Survey but I wonder if he is aware that the Haslemere Design Statement, which is now a material planning consideration, was commented on by less than half this number of people. He questions the cost of the survey, which was of ground-breaking importance after the introduction of the Localism Act 2012 and did NOT cost the many thousands he suggests but seems to have no such qualms about the cost-effectiveness of the Conservative-led Waverley Borough Council having to put their Local Plan out for consultation for a second time after doing such a bad job of it the first time. Latest figures suggest that the consultation has yielded around 3000 responses across the Borough, which means it may have yielded the same number of responses from Haslemere as the Vision survey. Meanwhile, without public consultation, Haslemere Town Council have committed to contributing £1 million to the MSCP. Is that democratic?
He claims that ‘it is clear now that the argument for a second deck has been made and accepted’ yet no amount of childish foot-stamping will disguise the fact that there is no published independent study to support this claim. I am at a loss to understand how anyone could argue that such a study is not vital when considering a development of this scale. How does insisting that such a study should take place make Cllr Barton ‘underhand’ or the rest ‘anti-change’? An independent Surrey Rail Strategy report compiled by Arup in 2013 highlighted the lack of data available on overall demand, mode share and car parking usage. It recommended research into the potential effects of an MSCP on pollution, congestion and road safety as well as the possibility of access improvements and alternative means of transport as part of a Station Travel Plan. Surrey County Council has funding available for data research and could contribute through local funds or funding bids but this option has so far been disregarded. Heaven forbid it should reveal simpler, cheaper, safer, greener and more imaginative options. Jeremy Hunt has secured agreement from the Department for Transport to oversee a working group to consider the MSCP. Let us hope it takes a fair and democratic approach and that the result is one from which the town as a whole, not just the select few, will benefit.
27 High Street, Haslemere
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From: JL Nobbs
Date: Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 11:28 AM