LETTER: CDC's visit to Goodwood

Your correspondent Alan Green, chairman of Southern Gateway Residents Association, asks (Letters, 5th January) a number of questions about the visit by CDC cllrs to Goodwood Estate; in particular he asks who arranged the visit; which councillors attended; what hospitality was extended; and what did Lord March expect and/or get promised in return.

In my view, how the meeting was arranged is irrelevant; the district council is a consultee in the consultation process, and it would seem appropriate for councillors to be fully aware of the concerns of all those who fear they might be adversely affected by any or all of the options being presented by HE.

At the time of the visit, both northern options were on the table, and in the public domain as a result of a ‘leak’ to this newspaper. A visit to Goodwood to hear the organisation’s views would seem to be entirely acceptable under the circumstances.

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I can’t remember exactly how many of the 48 CDC councillors attended, but I believe about 40 of us were there, as well as several senior CDC officers.

As for hospitality; we were offered a choice of a cup of tea or coffee, and biscuits. As it was quite soon after lunch, I opted for a glass of water (which, to my embarrassment, I promptly spilled over the carpet!).

We did not meet Lord March, understandably, as our visit came less that 24 hours after a violent burglary at his private apartments. Members of the Earl’s senior staff gave presentations outlining the concerns the Estate had about the possible adverse effect of the northern options on its business. There was then a question and answer session, before we were taken on a brief coach tour of the estate.

The whole event lasted less than three hours; and as we departed we were each given a paper carrier containing a corporate hospitality pack consisting of two ‘hard cover’ promotional books and a CD; and a booklet which summarised the organisations business model, and the possible adverse effect a northern route night have on that model.

Whilst this ‘gift’ is a nice souvenir of an extremely interesting and informative afternoon, I doubt that it has any intrinsic value. I keep it at the back of my wardrobe, among the shoe-boxes; but if any of your readers wishes to examine it, then they are welcome to come to Selsey to see it. My contact details are on the CDC website.

Mr Green is also concerned about promises that might have been made to the Earl, and expectations that he might have following our visit.

Frankly, I fail to see what the Earl could have expected from our visit, other than a fair hearing and understanding of his concerns; as for promises, I have made none, and I am completely unaware of any promises being made on my behalf, or on behalf of my fellow councillors.

As councillors, we are all entitled to have a personal view on these matters; for the record, I have for many years felt that northern route is the only way that the ongoing A27 issue can be fully resolved; and than anything short of this would be, at best, a temporary, stop-gap measure. My visit to the Goodwood Estate did not persuade me otherwise.

The 2016 consultation was demonstrably flawed, as it was not based on accurate and up-to date information and potential costs; as such, it cannot provide a sound basis for such an important decision. If a subsequent consultation based on the full facts, and including all options, were to show that a southern route is the right one, then I will all have to accept that and support it.

Cllr John Connor

Selsey North Ward, CDC

Merryfield Drive