Dear Mr Greene
(Legal Services Manager, Head of Property & Litigation and Monitoring Officer, WDDC)
RE ADVEARSE PETITION
Thank you for your letter of 22 January which gave your response to the decision of the Chief Executive to refuse to accept our petition. ADVEARSE has considered its response and I am replying on behalf of the group.
We are disappointed that you have failed to give any detailed consideration to the protocol concerning petitions to the Full Council. Most of the letter consists of the list of consultation activities which must have taken at least 2 minutes to copy and paste. We have already received this information on several occasions. We have explained that whilst it might persuade you and colleagues that consultation has been carried out that Bridport Councillors and residents feel that there were failures in the information and consultations process.
We would accept that the Councillors were unlikely to have accepted the demand of the petition and withdrawn Vearse Farm from the Local Plan. This would be especially true granted the particular stage we are at in terms of the Inspection process. We did however wish to achieve two objectives
- Ensuring that Councillors as a whole appreciated the strength of opposition to the proposal
- Ensuring that the public could actually hear an open debate on the issue.
The latter point is paramount. The local press is giving unprecedented coverage to concerns in the community as a whole about West Dorset District as a Council. In particular it is about the sense that ‘cabinet ‘government is not serving local democracy well.
We have collected names and asked for the debate in accordance with the protocol. What would actually have been wrong in actually having the debate and giving the reason for rejecting its request the points which Matt Prosser and you have given? You have given reasons why the Councillors would reject the request but not why the petition should not have been heard. In my initial response to Matt Prosser I suggested that it was bad politics to reject the petition. Weeks on with yet more negative publicity about a high handed council that remains my view. We will certainly be issuing a press release about the matter.
‘Chief Executives decision’- (page one). We note that no councillors were asked for their opinion. Might it have been useful to get their perspective ? Or outside the cabinet members are Councillors to be treated as stooges?
Conclusion of stage III – Thank you for clarifying that we are at the conclusion and pointing us in the direction of the ombudsman. For the record can we note that despite offers on our behalf for other avenues the Council has chosen to deal with us exclusively by e-mail/letter?
To confirm our next actions
- We will be issuing a press release about the rejection
- We will be contacting the Ombudsman
- We will be asking our local councillors for support and guidance
- We will consider how best to network with others who feel disenfranchised by the undemocratic processes of WDDC