I refer to the 49 sites under consideration for development.
Having this week witnessed the unedifying spectacle of the District Council’s own employees at the Tourist Information Centre learning of the possible closure of the building they work in from members of the public who had read last week’s Sussex Express, and having seen, together with several other Lewes councillors, what appeared to be a copy of the list, and reading in last week’s edition that others outside the elected representatives have seen the list as well, it should be obvious to anyone that the refusal by Lewes District Council to publish the list on the grounds of commercial sensitivity is no longer tenable.
A simple list of sites throughout the district together with their existing usage and valuations, and the estimate of the number of potential houses which could be put on them, would suffice.
None of this is commercially sensitive as anyone with any experience of planning could do a rough calculation on the numbers of properties each site is capable of accommodating. Trying to keep it secret now that unauthorised copies of the list are in circulation is just plain daft.
Rumours have long been circulating in the town about which sites are, or are not, included, and it would undoubtedly put the minds of those concerned about several sites which are not on the list at rest, while ending once and for all the sense that the District Council is trying to do something behind voters’ backs.
Lewes District Council is, after all, the democratically elected custodian of the community’s public assets and they need to act as such rather than appearing to behave like a private business corporation that can do what it wants with its own property.
The electorate has a right to know which of their assets are under consideration for development and they can then respond accordingly. Several sites, for example, may not present any problems. Others, with wide ranging community usage, undoubtedly will. But unless and until the District Council confirms the list, there will remain a strong suspicion that they have something to hide.
Cllr Graham Mayhew