What is Localism?
In short, localism is the transfer of power, authority, and resources from central government to local government and other public agencies, who in turn devolve to, and empower their communities!
What weasely words these now are to people living in and around the borough of Waverley. On this particular post to the residents of Ewhurst. in fact, if it wasn’t so serious it would be quite funny. The word ‘localism’ has now been shown to be just another political soundbite, in this case of the Cameron days, just like so many other political soundbites, before and since, that have bitten the dust!
Ask the communities of Farnham, Cranleigh, Godalming, and Ewhurst how effective their local voices were in 2017 or will be in 2018.
There is a no bigger example than that of The Farnham Society, The Cranleigh Civic Society, or the parish councils, all of whom have worked tirelessly wasting many millions of hours writing, or contributing to their Neighbourhood Plans! Plans which count for nothing!
- Farnham’s bit the dust before the ink was dry!
- Cranleigh’s never made the light of day!
- Ewhurst’s housing figures will be overtaken before its plan is published, let alone examined and improved.
Last night Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee took another backward step by approving a housing scheme at Backward Point, Cranleigh Road, Ewhurst for 31 New England style homes, some three-stories high! That same committee refused a scheme for just 13 just a month or so back. But the cash and clout brigade didn’t even bother to wait, throwing in an appeal for the higher number, an appeal which was subsequently granted by a Government Inspector.
The Parish Council continue to object, as it believes the development is out-of-keeping with the rural village nestling into the Surrey Hills.
But LOCALISM DIDN’T MATTER ONE JOT TO THE INSPECTOR neither did it matter a jot TO PLANNING CHIEF ‘ELIZABETH THE BUSINESS’ who will do her Majesty’s Government’s work, without a qualm!
The scheme was described by councillors as – ‘all done and dusted’ by an inspector, so there was little they could do about the undesirable narrow access road with an electricity pylon at the entrance to the site. Or the unsuitable height of some homes, or how close they were to properties in Gransden Close.
Or as Councillor David Else from Elstead so succinctly described :
Farnham Residents’ Group Councillor Jerry Hyman’s major concern was, that if the claims made by a resident (who spoke earlier during the public speaking slot) was correct, had the Inspector based his decision on inaccurate information i.e. the width of the access road?
‘We have here an access to a development which is narrow, which previously served just one house, and which cannot accommodate a pavement! We understand the Inspector was told the hedge alongside the access road was to be removed, and we now understand it isn’t. We should not be approving such developments. If that isn’t true we should not be granting this on a false premise, why can’t we challenge this? I certainly wouldn’t want to drive my car down there and meet a truck, or have my children walking down it with no pavement!’
He also questioned the practicality of the Suburban Urban Drainage Scheme (SUDS) on heavy Wealden clay.
The application was passed by 18 votes with two abstentions.
Later this month, just weeks after same Waverley JPC refused a scheme for 21 homes on green fields owned by Peter Nutting behind Larkfield, Ewhurst a Government inspector will hear another appeal. There will be yet another public inquiry into Beechcoft Land Ltd’s rejected scheme. And yet another Inspector will say – Hey Ho, let’s go, go, go!’
So out the window goes Localism – AGAIN.
‘Empower local communities’ – what a load of bullsh*t!
But here’s a warning!
“The planning system is one of the fundamental pillars of local democracy, allowing communities to help shape the physical structure of the places they live,”
“Councillors are the most important link between communities and that system. many councillors feel that this democratic tool is at risk of being undermined.”
Now if you really want to know what The Chairman and Vice-Chairman think about residents objections, and what they really think about the villages of Ewhurst and Cranleigh click on the link above and listen to what they have to say at the very end of the tape when the meeting ended and someone forgot to switch off the webcast!
Do you have a phobia? Are you afraid of spiders or flying? How did you overcome your phobia? @DannyPike wants to hear from you at BBC Surrey from 9am.
10 thoughts on “Hey, Ho, where did localism go? Certainly not to Ewhurst!”
Dear Waverley Web,
Your comments about localism do not surprise me one bit.
At a recent meeting, the new Chief Exec, Tom Horwood, told me that “borough councils are not democrtatic, though a lot of people mistakenly think that they are, and instead you should think of them more as being like a magistrates court”.
I think this sums up quite well the attitude of the Waverley Borough Council Leadership.
I agree that in the Waverley Borough we do need to take our fair share of new housing, but I think that the problem we are all suffering from is that voting borough councillors have been swayed by their “friends” and commercial considerations instead of listening to local residents’ views, and instead of putting the emphasis on allocating new housing to areas of the borough best served by proximity and ease of access to jobs and making sure new housing estates are not built in areas subject to flooding.
We’ve witnessed secret meetings between the Waverley Leadership and groups of developers where the public have been excluded and the Surrey Advertiser exposed Waverley’s practice of using substitutes to vote in unpopular new housing estates at their planning meetings.
Ewhurst is poorly represented at the Waverley Joint Planning Meetings, so it is easy for voting borough councillors to wave through new housing developments there.
Until we get rid of this Waverley Leadership, or Waverley gets taken into special measures by the Government, we, the council tax payers, can’t do anything to stop them making poor decisions.
Adrian Clarke, Cranleigh
WW wholeheartedly agrees with everything you say… except.. even the Magistrates Courts obey the law! AND, the local elections are just around the corner – start planning for them NOW! We get the Government’s we deserve – it is up to us to bring this rotten administration down!
The ordinary person writing an objection to a planning application does not stand a chance to even have their opinion considered when you have people like that who are supposedly there to listen and take in account all that is said, when all the chairman and his co-ort can think about is their own personal opinions on the villages of Cranleigh and Ewhurst. Totally out of order and I am glad they left their mic on, shows the contempt that they have for anywhere except where they live, how rude and conceited they showed themselves to be, but there you go they will get away with it and carry on in the same manner.
The WW doubts they will get away with it! Their behaviour should be reported to the standards board and they should be reprimanded and removed from the Joint Planning Committee. If nothing is done then that is yet another reason for voting these people out at the next election. These arrogant individuals actually believe they can do and say whatever they like. But we here at the WW are watching their every move, inside and outside Waverley Towers. So watch this space.
Dear Waverley Web,
Further to my comment posted yesterday (9th January), Tom Horwood (Chief Exec at Waverley Borough Council) asked me to clarify that what he said during our discussion about the wave of new housing estates being built on green field sites in Cranleigh was that in UK law, planning committees are quasi-judicial and akin to magistrate courts, rather than democratic, in that committee members have to decide on planning merits rather than their own ward considerations. He did not say that borough council themselves are not democratic.
He might not have said so – but we know they are!
Just reaffirms what pieces of work Isherwood and Cockburn are. Vote them off the council ASAP.
Would be very interesting to hear their off the cuff remarks are about Arford, Awford, or perhaps even Alfold!
Cover it in concrete???
What is the point of the Localism Act it can be ignored with impunity, it is not regulated? Accountability requires a democratic mandate.
The Localism paragraph 28 Codes of conduct
(1) A relevant authority must secure that a code adopted by it under section 27(2) (a “code of conduct”) is, when viewed as a whole, consistent with the following principles—
(2)A relevant authority must secure that its code of conduct includes the provision the authority considers appropriate in respect of the registration in its register, and disclosure, of—
(a)pecuniary interests, and
(b)interests other than pecuniary interests.