Home > Just and fair to all? > Formation of “council-led community campaign”

Formation of “council-led community campaign”

This purpose of this section of the blog is to explore whether the Local Plan process followed by the council is just and fair to all.

The Eco Town “process” is an integral part of the LDF/Local Plan and may now be highly relevant. If the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee are to be used by the council to inform the LDF/Local Plan (i.e. as a justification against a new settlement) then members of the public are entitled to ask whether the conduct of the council at that time was just and fair to all residents – particularly those in Angmering and Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham.

The council appears to be unique in that it is the only council in the country to have actually led a campaign against one of its own LDF options – the Eco Town (new settlement) proposals (LDF Option 2).

On 3rd April 2008, the council issued a press release announcing “an emergency meeting of the Council’s Cabinet has been called for Monday 14th April to kick-start a community campaign against the proposal” and “the Leader of Arun District Council, Cllr Mrs Gillian Brown, signalling the start of a council-led community campaign against the proposal said she was appalled that no account had been taken of the Council’s consistent and overwhelming objections to an eco-town at Ford.”

You can read the press release here. You can also see the difficulty the council had in locating the press release for a Freedom of Information request.


It is clear from this statement that not only had the council already decided against an eco town at Ford but that its intention was to start a campaign against those proposals.

At the special cabinet meeting those cabinet members present voted unanimously in favour of the recommendation: “the council, together with local organisations, mount a campaign against the principle of Eco-Towns in the District”. A small number of backbenchers also spoke in support of this recommendation. This recommendation effectively formed the mission statement of the “council-led community campaign”.

It was this recommendation that was subsequently put to Full Council.

Full Council declined to accept this recommendation – insisting that the words “principle of” were amended to “process being followed by Government to establish Eco-Towns“.

At the Cabinet Meeting of 12th May 2008 an adjustment was made to the minutes of the Special Cabinet meeting – changing the wording of the recommendation from “principle” to “process”.

As the minutes of the Special Cabinet meeting correctly record, no amendment to the recommendation was proposed, seconded, debated or voted upon. Therefore, was this an unconstitutional and inappropriate adjustment to the minutes?

Why is this relevant 4 years later?

The existence of the “council-led community campaign” throughout the early LDF/Local Plan process calls into question the soundness of the LDF/Local Plan for the following reasons:

By leading a campaign against one of its own LDF options was the council favouring residents in one section of the community at the expense of residents in other locations like Angmering, Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham, Wick and North Littlehampton?

Did the council’s campaign, by its actions, “steer” development away from Ford and towards locations like Angmering, Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham, Wick and North Littlehampton?

Given that the cabinet voted to “mount a campaign against the principle of Eco-Towns in the District” did those cabinet members, in effect, predetermine their (and the council’s) position with regard to consideration of LDF option 2?

An Eco Town is merely one style of new settlement which sets a very high bar for environmental considerations. Has the council used the findings of its Eco Town Select Committee as a means of avoiding consideration of other styles of new settlement?

When the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee were submitted to the government did the council take any steps to make the government aware that it was also leading a campaign against the principle of an eco town in the district? Would failure to advise the government constitute deception?

Residents would be well advised to include these points in their objections – it will then be for the Planning Inspectorate to decide their relevance in a quasi judicial context.

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