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Questions at the RDC Central Area Committee (9 Nov 2010)

November 10, 2010 by  

Pat James, a resident of Hawkwell sent in a question about the latest consultation on the Core Strategy.

Apart from asking about how residents would be informed about this important communication the question went on to ask;

Please explain what changes have been made and how these will effect Hawkwell, Hockley, Hullbridge and the very nearby parts of Ashingdon which comprise of the Central Area?

The Officer dealing with questions said that the answer was in writing in front of everyone so he would not read it out.  Pat realising that the last part of her question (above) had not been answered and despite putting her hand up the Chairman failed to acknowledge her request to speak.  John Mason stepped in and asked the Chairman to explain why this part of the question had not been answered.

Shaun Scrutton said that he had not answered it because the questioner could read about the changes at the places in the answer. He did not propose to read everything out.

John advised the Chairman that it was not good enough and with the Portfolio Holder Councillor Hudson sitting almost next to him, he felt that an answer in summary of the effect on the Central Area should be given.

Mr. Scrutton who went on to say that he could only read out Policy H2 and H3.

John still felt that this was unhelpful and uninformative and asked the Chairman to ask Pat if she was satisfied with that as an answer.

Pat said No and all Shaun Scrutton did was to ramble through a list of locations, numbers and dates.

At that point Pat and John both gave up.

This is what Pat James said afterwards;

“It is a shame that so few members of the public attend but I believe the public are becoming more and more dissatisfied by Officers and Councillors failing to be open or at times appear interested in the public’s opinion resulting in their questions not fully answered or worse ignored when raised.  It is becoming increasingly clear to me that there is a secrecy surrounding the issue of houses in Hawkwell and elsewhere that Officers do not wish to be  questioned on by the public and will only give replies and answers to questions that they wish the public to know about.  Thus avoiding many important questions raised by concerned members of the public who will be directly affected by an increase of housing and loss of green belt.”

A question on the Core Strategy from Councillor Myra Weir was ruled out of order and was disqualified by the Chair because she was not a member of the public.  Councillor Hazlewood also raised question and was refused by the Chairman.

Mr Alan James then interjected by saying that if Councillor Weir could not ask the question then he would and asked if it would be answered.  The quote of the week is that “infrastructure  in the Central Area is reasonable”.

The impression given was that the matter was in consultation and that no questions would be answered and that the debate could be held with the public at the Public Examination Hearings in January before a Planning Inspector.

There were only 14 people other than District Councillors and Officers present and one of these was the Press!!

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