This so-called 'public consultation' is a farce

Cherwell’s public consultation material has 18 documents to look at: 12 of them about the plan, 6 about how to make representations. There must be well over 1000 pages.

 

There's a summary booklet, itself 36 pages & repeating old material but also including some helpful maps. Nevertheless it says “Your comments should refer specifically to the Plan. This booklet has only been produced as a guide.”

 

There is a 7 page guidance document about how to object. There is also a 6 page representation form and this is divided into Parts A & B which objectors are “strongly recommended” to use. Objectors are expected to complete a separate part B for every comment they make, referring to the document and the paragraph, policy, table or appendix to which the specific comment relates. To do this people will have had to have looked in detail at the plan itself.

 

A respondent is then asked to specify “whether you consider the Plan to be legally and procedurally compliant … positively prepared … justified … effective …. consistent with national policy” and to say what changes they would make including proposed wording.

 

It is farcical and totally unreasonable of Cherwell to expect the public to respond in this way. From this and the fact that they are again running the consultation over a holiday period and that they ignored the “overwhelming” objections last time, it is only reasonable to conclude that Cherwell does not want the public to comment and wishes to ignore them.

 

The only people who will respond in Cherwell’s recommended way are developers promoting their own sites but who have little overall interest in the overall plan. So once again, as at the last Examination in Public, the process is one-sided and totally biased in favour of the development industry.

 

Council officers must accept, and seriously consider, short letters of objection from the public, or pre-printed postcards with or without personal comments.

Alan L.