Hart Council changes the rules of the Local Plan consultation as it goes along

Banana Republic?

If this is a fair process, I’m a banana republic

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:

Hart consultation V4 must answer Q4 and Q5

Hart Consultation V4 must answer Q4 and Q5

But Version 5 of the consultation paperwork, dated 6 January 2016, says there is no requirement to answer questions 4 and 5:

Hart consultation V5 no requirement to answer Q4 and Q5

Hart Consultation V5 no requirement to answer Q4 and Q5

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:

Hart determining scoring criteria after the consultation is complete

Hart determining scoring criteria after the consultation is complete

[Update]

It gets worse. The paper copies of the form have no comments box for Q4 of the consultation, but the on-line form does:

Page 3 of the Consultation form

Page 3 of the Consultation form

Page 4 of the Hart District Council Local Plan Consultation form

Page 4 of the Consultation form

[/Update]

[Update 2]

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.
And perhaps most significantly:
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)”
 
Has someone been taking inspiration from The Thick of It?
[/Update 2]

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.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

Posted in Hart District Council, Hart Housing Options Consultation, Hart Local Plan, We Heart Hart Campaign, We Love Hart Campaign and tagged , , , .

39 Comments

  1. Pingback: Hart Local Plan Consultation descends into omnishambles | We Heart Hart

  2. Just do it Lesley, even though it feels more like a waste of effort with every revelation. We do not live in a democracy in hart that’s for sure. This bunch of cowboys are taking the population for a ride and some of them are particularly enjoying it.

  3. Just do it Lesley, even though it feels more like a waste of effort with every revelation. We do not live in a democracy in hart that’s for sure. This bunch of cowboys are taking the population for a ride and some of them are particularly enjoying it.

  4. And 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)”

  5. And 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)”

  6. Oh, for goodness sake. The whole process should be abandoned NOW, the consultation paper re-formulated once and for all and sent out again. I am ‘minded’ to not respond to the present consultation as it stinks!

  7. Oh, for goodness sake. The whole process should be abandoned NOW, the consultation paper re-formulated once and for all and sent out again. I am ‘minded’ to not respond to the present consultation as it stinks!

  8. Null and void without consistency. Ombudsmen would surely take that view. Would an inspector not throw the results out? Feeling angry the population are so blatantly being taken for a ride.

  9. Null and void without consistency. Ombudsmen would surely take that view. Would an inspector not throw the results out? Feeling angry the population are so blatantly being taken for a ride.

  10. It gets worse. I’ve now also been alerted to other changes:

    V5 now seems to include Crookham Village, Dogmersfield & Eversley. V4 doesn’t include those parishes. THe online version now includes them, but I don’t know it 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.

  11. It gets worse. I’ve now also been alerted to other changes:

    V5 now seems to include Crookham Village, Dogmersfield & Eversley. V4 doesn’t include those parishes. THe online version now includes them, but I don’t know it 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.

  12. What about those who may have filled in the responses and returned them BEFORE the change in rules? How on earth can they weight the returns with rules changing mid-way through the voting process?

  13. What about those who may have filled in the responses and returned them BEFORE the change in rules? How on earth can they weight the returns with rules changing mid-way through the voting process?

  14. Whatever your views on the proposed options, every council tax payer in Hart should be deeply concerned at how their district council operates.
    “Corrupt” may be too strong but this is certainly amateurish.

  15. If this change would alter the response or number of responses then this would make it a different consultation. I would have thought this would invalidate the whole process. It would have to be repeated surely.

  16. Is anyone intending to stand on a brownfield development platform in May? We will have an opportunity to ditch the incumbents and it would be good to see candidates opposing the concrete enthusiasts club.

  17. It does beg the question of why this change was made. Could it be they were receiving too many comments against a new settlement so decided they would make that question optional? After all if 1000 responses are revived and only 499 express a preference against a new town that means the majority are in favour: even if the majority didn’t even answer the question!

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