LETTER: Leader's email said much more

Earnley Parish Council were entirely justified in complaining about the email Cllr Dignum, the Leader of Chichester District Council, sent to an unidentified person expressing his fulsome support for the Anti-Northern Bypass campaign (Observer, December 22).

Friday, 6th January 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:43 pm

The offending email is now in the public domain but your brief extract does not convey its full flavour; it actually demonstrates that Cllr Dignum had long made up his mind and been highly instrumental in the anti-northern campaign from the beginning.

It also explains much about his subsequent incitement of his council to desist from voting for ‘No Option’ in the consultation and instead to support Option 2.

He patently did not want the northern debate to be reopened. He begins his email by pledging all the assistance he can to the campaign and gives a rallying cry to the recipient, who seemingly lives on the Manhood, that ‘a single southern opponent is worth three or more from the north’.

In his response to the criticism, Cllr Dignum defended his visit to Goodwood by saying that he correctly declared the hospitality he received there and this was obviously enough to get him off the hook in the internal investigation, but there are other questions raised by

his actions.

Whose idea was it to arrange the visit to Goodwood, Lord March’s or his? Who were the other councillors who attended?

They were all obviously treated to hospitality, but, as the old truism goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch – what did Lord March expect, and/or get promised, in return? Later in his email Cllr Dignum came to his opinion about Goodwood citing ‘the irreparable damage to the Goodwood estate businesses and the negative impact it (a northern bypass) will have on any BMW plans for the future of their Rolls Royce business’ as being reasons to oppose a northern option. What a pity then that, when so vigorously advocating Option 2, he did not express any strong views about the ‘irreparable damage’ that would be visited upon the 20 families who would lose their homes and those who will be condemned for evermore to look out onto a blank retaining wall of a flyover, or the ‘negative impact’ on the six small businesses in Stockbridge Place who will have to cease trading. Did he organise a visitation of councillors down here to gauge for themselves? I doubt it, and if he did, he didn’t invite us along but, of course, no-one with any influence lives down here.

How interesting that the front page story of the same issue of the Observer was about the Leader of West Sussex County Council calling on the government for a rerun of the marred A27 consultation and to include a northern option. When WSCC debated the issue during the consultation they plumped for ‘No Option’ which suggests a more open minded approach than that which pervades the district council.

Alan Green

Chairman, Southern Gateway Residents’ Association,

Stockbridge Road, Chichester