VOTE: Is there a north/ south divide in the district?

C121167-1  Stock Chichester County Hall phot kate
C121167-1 Stock Chichester County Hall phot kate

THERE was fury when members of the public north of the Downs were left out in the cold, as West Sussex County Council officers and members failed to make it over Cocking Hill.

Residents from as far afield as Rogate, Haslemere, Peworth, Midhurst and Lynchmere turned out for a Chichester North county local committee meeting in Fernhurst, but three out of four councillors failed to appear, including chairman Michael Brown, councillor for Fernhurst, and all the officers.

This followed insistence from the WSCC throughout Tuesday the meeting would be going ahead at 7pm, despite the heavy snow which began falling in the afternoon.

“This just increases our paranoia about being north of the Downs, it’s hard to believe sometimes it’s the 21st century,” said Susan Pinder of Kirdford Parish Council. “It’s poor communication, they have our email addresses. It’s such an important thing because we’re out here in the middle of nowhere and it’s how we get to talk to our guys from Chichester.

“We always have an issue north of the Downs – we always feel like the neglected step-sister,” she added.

Midhurst Town councillor Steve Morley was also there: “I was very disappointed that the very thing we needed to talk about – roads and traffic regulation orders –apparently prevented the people we needed to talk to from getting there, without even letting us know they weren’t coming.”

‘Determined to hold meeting’

Speaking yesterday, Michael Brown said: “I had been determined to hold the meeting but five officers and three county councillors were physically unable to get to the venue.”

All those who travelled from south of the Downs were stuck in traffic, and this has fuelled the feeling that the areas north of the Downs were being treated as the poor relation.

The one county councillor who did manage to make it to the meeting was Chris Duncton of Petworth, who told the dozen or so people who had arrived: “I can’t apologise on behalf of the committee, but I can give a personal apology to those who have made the effort to come.”

He added he was unaware of any decision to cancel the meeting.

The meeting will now probably be combined with March’s meeting, and rescheduled for February.

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