Internet responses for Worthing 20mph consultation thrown out

‘ABSOLUTELY ridiculous’ was the view of one councillor on the prospect of incorporating online responses into a planned consultation on 20mph speed limits for Worthing.

Worthing County Local Committee has thrown out a suggestion to let people have their say on the proposals by responding over the internet, due to concerns it would lead to fraudulent replies.

Instead, information packs and forms will be sent to every household and business in the town.

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Cissbury county councillor John Rogers said: “I think it is absolutely ridiculous. There should be no online voting and it should be hard copies only.

“I still want to know how we are going to know if somebody voted online and they return the letter, too.”

Worthing West councillor Paul High agreed.

He said: “My concern is online voting as it can be abused. It is not secure at all.

“I don’t think we are going to find a foolproof system. My wish was that it was going to be done on local election day but I was told by officers that it couldn’t happen.”

A steering group, consisting of those for and against the scheme, spent several meetings discussing how the consultation should be formed.

Speaking at the meeting, Elise Mason, from the anti-20mph campaign group 20’s Pointless, raised further concern over plans to put additional forms in places such as libraries. She said it was not necessary, given the fact every household would be sent one, with the committee agreeing.

A complaint was also lodged by 20’s Pointless over the fairness of the steering group process, branding it a ‘farce’.

She added: “We are pleased the CLC decided not to allow internet voting.

“There is no satisfactory way to limit it to those directly concerned or to prevent any fraudulent voting.

“Consequently, it could give rise to a huge number of comments and votes from children and non-residents.”

Duncan Kay, from pro-20mph group 20’s Plenty, said he understood the CLC’s concerns, but was unaware of problems in other consultations elsewhere.

He said: “The CLC’s decision not to allow 20mph consultation responses via the internet further increases the importance that everyone who wants to see safer, more pleasant residential streets, must ensure they fill in and return the paper forms.

“Unless those who support 20mph respond positively to the consultation, it will not go ahead.”

The committee also raised concerns about the potential cost, with some worried about the potential for requiring traffic-calming measures, should average speeds not reduce.

Councillors sought further clarification that funds would be available for both 20mph and the revamp of Montague Street, should residents support the speed limit plans.

Goring’s Steve Waight said: “There are no proposals to do any hard work in infrastructure that would reduce speeds down to 20mph.

“Effectively, it was a sign- only scheme.

“Quite clearly, it would be very embarrassing for this committee, county and borough to go out to consultation and if the public do support it, we don’t have the funds to implement it.”

Forms will be sent out in April.