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!
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