Last Friday, the Waverley Local Committee met in Witley and announced that they are dropping their plans for all Pay & Display (P&D) in Haslemere. They intend to continue with residents only permits (ROPs) and double yellow lining on roads as detailed in the public notice published on Jan 13th. Many of these will be deferred until June for more discussion. There is considerable concern as, coming out of the meeting, many points were unclear as to what SCC is now proposing. We will have to await minutes of the meeting and additional public advertisements.
We feel delighted, as stopping our streets being lined with parking meters is a great outcome for the community of Haslemere. Yet anyone who experienced the meeting — and the small hall was packed with over 200 members of the public — can only be left with a feeling of disappointment at the conduct of our elected representatives working for Surrey County Council. The meeting was a complete shambles. It was chaired in a very autocratic style and Cllr Frost and Cllr Renshaw, the Committee Chair and Vice Chair, gave precious little sign of encouraging discussion, involvement or scrutiny of the proposals by the other 16 members of the Committee, both prior to, or during the meeting.
Rather than defusing public anger at the behaviour of SCC, by announcing the good news that all P & D had been dropped at the beginning of the meeting, Cllr Frost chose to let the meeting continue for over an hour, frequently threatening to stop the meeting if people continued to ‘heckle’ before announcing that they had decided to drop pay & display. Cllr Frost rather surprisingly, thanked on behalf of the committee, the SCC officers for all the hard work they had put into these proposals, and she expressed sympathy for them, for as she said in losing pay and display, they were ‘losing the fruits of their labour’. It is unbelievable. We have all had to fight so hard against our own elected representatives and our county council, so clearly determined to push through proposals that have not had the best interests of Haslemere as their motivation.
The meeting moved on to a most unsatisfactory discussion of the individual roads where ROP’s and yellow lines were planned. Decisions were made in an ad hoc way, Cllr Frost inappropriately stating she was determined to ‘push these through’. This, despite interventions from members of the public highlighting gross inaccuracies, and an appeal from one member of the Local Committee (Carole Cockburn) to defer all decisions until June for further consultation, which was rejected by the Chair.
When the discussion moved to St Christopher’s Green, Cllr Frost agreed to proceed with the proposed plans as the final report stated that ‘no objections had been received’. I stood up with a letter of objection from the Treasurer of the Haslemere Parish Council, representing St Christopher’s Church which had not been included in the report. I was told most rudely by Cllr Frost to sit down. A discussion followed, and although they agreed there had been an error and the objection had not been acknowledged in the final report, Cllr Frost and Renshaw agreed to ‘proceed immediately as advertised’ for the opposite side of St. Christopher’s Green, a stone’s throw from the church. I stood up again, appealing to the Committee to defer any decision until June in order to consult with St Christopher’s Church. This intervention further angered Cllr Frost, and she ordered me to leave the meeting. Someone whom we can only assume to be a SCC security officer in a black jacket came to make sure I was escorted out of the building. (3 out of 3. I have been evicted, or refused the right to speak at three SCC parking meetings.)
We would like to thank everyone who has supported the campaign against these parking proposals. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write in objection and sign the petition, to all those who braved the cold and marched though the town back in January, to everyone who attended the meeting on Friday and to all the encouragement and support so many people have given the team. As Julianne Evans, Chamber of Trade noted when she thanked Cllr Renshaw for his role in bringing the community of Haslemere together to fight these proposals, the one positive outcome of this campaign has been the way the town has been united in a very special way.
Sadly this is not the end of the story as, first, we feel an obligation to challenge the conduct of our elected representatives which has failed to meet even the minimum standards as set out in the SCC code of conduct; and, secondly, we need to ensure the next phase of consultation is carried out exactly as the town community would expect, and not as a repeat of SCC’s consultation approach. We will keep you updated! (Do let us know if you would rather not receive any further updates.)
Nikki and Jerry Barton
From: Nikki James [mailto:removed]
Sent: 19 March 2012 2:41 PM
Subject: Haslemere Action Group: Update