So Much for Local Democracy: Sidlesham Public Appeal

Following the Inspector's decision to allow the Sidlesham appeal, I thought you might like to see this 'leader' in today's Chichester Observer:

So Much for Local Democracy

Ministers are fond of prattling on about local democracy and the power of the people - when it suits them to do so. But these noble sentiments are quickly forgotten when they conflict with the government's own financial and strategic interests.

Sidlesham residents - and council tax payers right across the Chichester District - today learn this hard lesson to their cost. A government inspector has allowed an appeal against the district council's refusal of planning permission for a new Tetra mast in Sidlesham. The Inspector also awarded costs against the council for refusing the mast plan in the first place. Ominously, this is the third appeal in a row relating to plans for Tetra masts in the Chichester district - and each one has been allowed.

Councillors were doing their duty when they took heed of the mass of local opposition to the Sidlesham scheme, to serious concerns about possible health risks and impact on the environment, and to scientific evidence produced by the campaigners. But all of this was cast aside by the inspector, an unelected official who chose to ignore both local people and their elected representatives.

Inspectors are supposed to be impartial, but the government has a huge stake in the communications industry and it is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the planning inspectorate is dancing to the government's tune.

Many residents will be wondering this week why they bother to turn out and vote councillors into office, if decisions reflecting strongly-held local views are so easily overturned by a government lackey.

Surely local people should decide what is best for the local area, not some remote frontman for the increasingly preposterous and sinister John Prescott.

Keith Newbery

At least it was nice to see it in print!



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Mai 2005

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