Village leaders considered this request from the Cranleigh Village Health Trust. The charity that is seeking planning consent to build a 64-bed care home an accommodation block and 16 community beds now wants to meet the parish council in private… again.
Here’s what it said on last week’s Cranleigh Parish Council Agenda. The meeting was held on Zoom to enable the public to take part.
CRANLEIGH VILLAGE HEALTH TRUST (CVHT) CVHT Response to letter exchange (This item may be held in private and confidential session – reason: commercial in confidence) Recommendation: •
‘To consider the request from CVHT for a private meeting of two CVHT representatives with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council, and the Clerk, to discuss an outcome for the Paddock Field which is beneficial for the community and satisfies CVHT’s obligations as a charity, in line with the covenants placed on the land. There may be information that is commercially sensitive.’
Another chapter is about to open in a burgeoning book of a 20-year saga that has dogged – what has been dubbed by some as ‘the largest village in England”
The Cranleigh Village Health Trust’s request was given short shrift by councillors who were united in their opposition to holding ANY further meetings in private with a developer seeking to build a commercial private care home for HC-One one of the nation’s largest care providers.
Though it is now debatable whether HC-One is the operator? The Chairman of the Trust, Dr Robin Fawkner-Corbett has confirmed publicly that the planning application in the name of HC-ONE and CVHT that has been with Waverley Planners for many months, has no signed-up operator! Saying an operator will be named once planning permission is granted.
Now that the Trust has effectively become – Billy No Mates – it wants a secret meeting with a handful of councillors to unveil its latest cunning plan. A plan for a site it owns – has the value of a playing field, land swapped 15 years ago sold by the parish council of-the-day for £ 1– in return for a piece of agricultural land for a playing field.
The first, and only, member of the public to speak was the man who heads the campaign group to stop the development going ahead.
Andy Webb – as we repeatedly say – who has no connection with the Waverley Web, asked if he could represent the Campaign Group on behalf of its supporters at any meeting to be held. He said as the Trust had received considerable amounts of public money. ( believed to be circa £1.7m plus) – the public should be included in any debate. He said he couldn’t get any response to his requests from the Trust for a meeting, but firmly believed the public must be allowed to hear whatever its representatives had to say?
“We have an absolute right to know what is being said – it is our money they are spending!“
Chairman Liz Townsend said the council would go into the council meeting and consider the request and the decision lay with her members.
First off the grid was Cllr Richard Cole who said he recalled the previous private meeting with the Trust was to listen but not comment. Cllr Townsend reminded everyone that the well-minuted private meeting was to hear nothing other than any ‘community benefits’ put forward by the Trust.
“We made it very clear to them it would not be about process.”
Cllr Cole, who is also Chairman of a Waverley Planning Committee, said any meeting should not be discussing the planning application – an application that…
“it appeared wouldn’t be coming to the borough council – any time soon.”
” You can offer them another meeting – but this time “I want to be there,” said a feisty Cllr Rowena Tyler – and I want that minuted!”
Cllr Jeacock said he wasn’t happy about holding any private meetings in the first place – “I don’t like it.”
“I will strongly object and I want that minuted. I don’t agree with the Trust keep asking for private meetings with two representatives, they should speak to the parish council, and anyone else who is interested as an elected group – and the meeting should be held in public.”
Cllr Nigel Sanctuary echoed his sentiments. “this is a community issue – and there a lot of emotions around this. Public emotions are running so high, that we should reject any request by the Trust to meet a few of us in private.” He said the council should reject any more private meetings and should have some clear objectives about what it wished for an outcome.
Cllr George Worthington: “We said three months ago the last meeting was a “one-off” to hold another would not be sending the right message. We need to have everyone on the parish council – and the public involved.”
Both Cllr Hannah Nicholson and David Nicholas agreed. A conciliatory voice from Cllr Nicholas said the last meeting in private should be the final meeting.
“We are a civilised lot here – an open meeting can be well-chaired, and well-managed and we will listen to the Trust. There could be an opportunity here for something sensible to come out of it. However, we have to make it clear to the Trust, that if there are confidential commercial matters – they should give us that information in a report. We could at least offer them that.”
It was UNANIMOUSLY agreed that the council would write to the CVHT stressing that it agreed it would hold a parish council meeting to be held in public – which was not the same as a PUBLIC MEETING.