What democracy?

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There doesn’t appear to be any abatement with the controversy surrounding Steyning’s skate park project, and along with it go the bleatings of Mr Kelly’s ongoing obsession to have it built in the Memorial Playing Field (MPF) against overwhelming public opinion.

He continually carps on how democratic he and Steyning Parish Council are when their actions demonstrate the exact opposite. And he now accuses me of having no respect for democratic decisions because of a comment I made on Radio Sussex stating the parish poll called by supporters of the skatepark was irrelevant. I do mean irrelevant, so I will explain why.

The parish poll called by the supporters in November last year was for the people to vote for a skatepark to be built in the top half of the MPF.

It was to have two disabled car parking spaces, a Hexapath leading from the north-west gate to the skatepark, and substantial earth bunds, which according to the parish council’s own acoustic experts, were required to mitigate the noise nuisance the skatepark will generate, and which should be a minimum of 1.5 metres above the highest point of the field. This is what the people voted for.

But the parish council has now removed the parking spaces, the Hexapath and the bunds, creating a completely different design than what was described in the poll.

And to make matters worse, the careful wording of the poll question gave a distorted impression that the skate park would be about the same size as the existing tarmac strip, when it would be about six times bigger, and voters weren’t told it would be built in the South Downs National Park.

Also, there was no mention that the protection of village green status would have to be removed, leaving the field vulnerable to further development.

The poll, therefore, was irrelevant, as I had stated.

But let me take Mr Kelly back to the year 2000 when a previous poll was put to the people of Steyning, who rejected a skatepark by 77 per cent and agreed to a statement on the ballot form that “There should be no further development on this part of the Memorial Field by this present or any future Steyning Parish Council.”

That was a democratic decision which Mr Kelly apparently doesn’t agree with, and he claims to be a democrat.

But that is not all. In 2011, Steyning Parish Council carried out a town survey for the people to choose a site for a skatepark between the MPF and a site in the Horsham Road opposite the Leisure Centre.

The result of that survey showed that 75 per cent of the people, again, rejected the MPF. That was a second democratic decision Mr Kelly does not accept, and which should have been the end of this whole issue.

But despite these two very clear decisions by the people, the parish council, and it would appear Mr Kelly and his cohorts, kicked democracy in the teeth and pressed ahead to submit a planning application to build the skate park.

Had the parish council accepted the democratic decisions of the people and not pressed on, our community would not be divided as it is today.

If Mr Kelly believes in the democratic process, he would press our parish council to abandon this seriously unpopular project and re-unite our community.

I would add these are my personal comments and in no way represent official policy of the FoMPF, of which I am a member.

John Catchpole

South Ash


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