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When I read Mike Kelly’s never-ending contributions about the Steyning skate park fiasco (the latest in the Herald dated February 12), I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

What is concerning is that he refuses to accept the facts and the overwhelming public opinion that is against the urbanisation of the Memorial Playing Field (MPF), an area of outstanding natural beauty, by building a skate park within it.

Also, he clearly doesn’t understand the purpose of a parish poll and, like the skating fraternity he supports, continues to state that Steyning Parish Council has a mandate for a skate park. Of course it does not.

I would like to remind Mr Kelly that the object of a poll is to seek opinion and not to make any ‘first past the post’ decisions, it is not a referendum and certainly does not give a mandate.

Also, the skate park design that was the subject of the poll bore no resemblance to what the parish council intended to build, which is why I have stated on numerous occasions that the poll was irrelevant, apart from clearly showing this seriously unpopular project has created unprecedented division in our community.

And again, Mr Kelly has completely missed the point when the planning inspector upheld the FoMPF’s appeal and granted full planning permission for a skate park to be built at the leisure centre.

This planning application has attracted substantial public support and Horsham District Council’s planning officers, who are experts in their field, recommended approval. But the decision made by Horsham’s development control (south) committee went against its own planning officers’ recommendation and did not appear to be supported by sound planning reasons.

I can agree with Nick Herbert MP in principle, in that decisions should be made by local people, but in a situation with this application, which has been embroiled in emotion, acrimony and personalities, it is important that we have an independent planning inspector to make a clear, impartial and accurate decision.

The FoMPF is in total support of a skate park for our young people and has tried very hard to meet with all concerned, including Steyning Grammar School and the parish council, in an attempt to find a suitable site, but have either had all attempts rejected or completely ignored.

What is not in contention is to build a skate park that we would all support, but it must be located at an appropriate site, and the MPF could not be less suitable.

Mr Kelly is a retired school teacher and as such, I would expect him to act in a more responsible way and abide by the 2011 parish council’s town survey, the result of which clearly showed that the majority of the town did not want a skatepark built in the MPF. This was the only democratic process that has taken place with regard to a Steyning skate park, and if Mr Kelly supports democracy, as he very often states, he would abide by the wishes of the town.

I would also suggest he gets a grip of the facts and refrains from continually churning out misinformation and profound inaccuracies that are further exacerbating acrimony and unrest within our community.

John Catchpole

South Ash

Steyning

• Editor’s note: Steyning Parish Council figures show the survey in 2011 had 685 replies, representing a return of 25 per cent.

Of those, 474 (69 per cent) were in favour of the land opposite the leisure centre and 173 (25 per cent) were in favour of the Memorial Playing Field. There were 33 responses for neither site.

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