The comments of councillor Bower and councillor Mrs Brown when presented with an open letter demanding their resignation and signed by 159 people from across the district are revealing.
Mr Bower said that the Inspector had not found the plan ‘unsound’ but ‘basically incomplete’.
Yet what the inspector said is: “In my view the council’s assent to the Statement of Common Ground in December indicates that the plan was unsoundly based when submitted in January and this was further confirmed by the Hearn report in March.”
Mrs Brown said the council had ‘every confidence’ the plan would have met the inspector’s approval.
She also said: “It is highly unfortunate that our journey towards plan adoption has been blown off course by the council having to respond to the latest household projections from the Office of National Statistics.”
She casually ignores the fact that the plan has been over nine years in the making so far and that, if she had faced up to difficult decisions earlier in the process (which is what leadership is all about), the plan would have been settled long before the latest household projections.
The entire district is now vulnerable to planning appeal as a direct consequence of the council’s continual delays.
It’s always someone else’s fault isn’t it, Mrs Brown!
Already Mrs Brown ignores the multitude of evidence provided at the Examination in Public (EiP) which the Inspector has not yet ruled on.
But then she would – because she and the vast majority of her councillors couldn’t even be bothered to attend the EiP in person to hear the evidence discussed.
I saw only councillors Buckland and Elkins at the EiP – were there any others?
The plan is now to be suspended while work is carried out to address the many flaws in it, not just the housing number as Mrs Brown might have us believe.
The Inspector has already given a strong warning about the need to avoid predetermination.
Did you notice that Mrs Brown?
The truth of the matter is that our district urgently needs a fresh start, yet as long as these two politicians cling on to power there is a risk that, in order to preserve their political careers, they are likely to “repackage” their existing proposals, retrofit evidence, and “spin on” regardless towards the next Local Plan car crash in 18 months’ time.
To do anything else would be to admit failure.
As a district, what we need is genuine, open minded, engagement between council and public in order to bring forward a sound Local Plan that has the support of the public.
Yet, these two councillors remain in denial that they have wasted over nine years to create a Local Plan that could not be found sound at examination, and something like £2.7 million (so far) of public funds has been squandered on the Local Plan and Bognor Regis Regeneration – the two main projects during their term as cabinet members.
We urgently need leaders who can engage in genuine partnership with the public – Mrs Brown and Mr Bower must go to enable a fresh start for the district.
• Want to share your views? Send your letters by email or post them to Letters, Littlehampton Gazette, Cannon House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing, BN11 1NA. Remember to include your full name and address.
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