In a quite astonishing development, we have been alerted to the fact that Hart District Council has changed the rules of the consultation part way through the process. This is in addition to the inexplicable decision to postpone how the way answers will be weighted until after the consultation has closed.
Version 4 of the consultation paperwork, dated 3 December 2015, stated clearly that questions 4 and 5 of the consultation must be answered:
But Version 5 of the consultation paperwork, dated 6 January 2016, says there is no requirement to answer questions 4 and 5:
As of 09:30 on Monday 11 January 2016, Questions 4 and 5 were mandatory in the on-line version of the consultation. This is a fundamental change to the rules in the middle of the consultation and one is left wondering quite how the results can be considered valid and surely it can’t be right that the rules for paper submission are different to those for online submission.
In addition, Hart Council announced at a meeting of the Hart District Association of Town and Parish Councils that they would not decide how to weight the answers to the questions until the consultation was complete. This is confirmed by a question to the December Council meeting:
It gets worse. The paper copies of the form have no comments box for Q4 of the consultation, but the on-line form does:
I have been alerted to even more differences between the two versions of the document:
V5 now seems to include Crookham Village, Dogmersfield & Eversley in Q4. V4 doesn’t include those parishes. The online version now includes them, but I don’t know if it has been changed.Neither version has a comments box for q4, but there is a q4 comment box online, even though Q6 directs you to a comments box for q4.In V4, the question directs you to Table 2 on page 7, in V5 it directs you to the same table on page 9. In the version of the booklet I have, Table 2 starts on page 8.
Q6 has been changed, with V4 allowing comments on rejected sites and V5 not including the following in the question:“You may also comment on any ‘rejected ‘sites (in blue and listed on the tables on each map)”
This is a very worrying development and resembles how one might expect countries to operate that do not have as mature democracies as we enjoy in this country.
If you would like to try your luck in responding to the consultation and objecting to the new town idea, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.
2 Minute version: