LETTER: Consultation can be key

So, Labour councillors now resent the fact that I hold public meetings, conduct surveys and generally have the temerity to consult my constituents on important local developments (Cllr Les Alden letter, Herald, January 18).

I know councillor Alden is new to the area but most local people know that this is something I have done all year round for the last 20 years and I believe is an important part of my job.

Last September, I chaired a packed meeting on the New Monks Farm proposals where I have vociferously expressed my serious reservations about the huge impact of the IKEA on the A27 in particular. This week with local Conservative councillors I am inviting local residents to give their views on the Sompting West development where again I do not think the traffic implications are sustainable.

This is especially important given that the developers have held virtually no consultation so far and are still declining the opportunity to explain their plans at my meeting. Similar meetings I have held in the past have served to make sure people are properly informed about what is proposed and know how to have their concerns taken on board. As a result, a number of sensitive areas were taken out of the Adur Local Plan which has just been agreed and are now protected from development. Adur council and especially cabinet member for regen-eration Brian Boggis are to be congratulated for having argued a strong case with the Planning Inspector to get the target number of homes reduced from 5,820 to 3,609.

This will still be difficult given that Adur is sandwiched between the sea and the National Park but in contrast neighbouring authorities have had their plans thrown out and forced to take even more development.

The fact is that housing shortages in Adur are a big challenge as I see in my surgery every week. We need some extra houses and we need to make sure we have the right ones in the right place sustainably, and preferably affordable for local people. The hypocrisy of Labour councillors who criticise government for not building enough houses and then criticise Conservative councils for trying to get them built is breathtaking. Labour voting against the Adur Local Plan would actually have meant a much higher target being imposed on us with very little power over how and where they were built. Their hypocrisy does not end there, of course, as they complain about lack of progress on the A27 but it was a referendum commitment in the Labour 2015 manifesto actually to shelve the plans altogether. Bit like their antics on the Brexit Bill where they claimed that they want to respect the will of the people for Brexit to happen yet 243 Labour MPs voted against the Bill to bring it about. No wonder Councillor Alden doesn’t like consulting local people – they might ask too many awkward questions about what Labour’s position or multi-positions actually are!

Tim Loughton

East Worthing & Shoreham MP

House of Commons, Westminster

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