Eastleigh’s Local Plan: critics dismissed as “amateurs”. Really?

ADD UPDATE, 12 March 2018: We thought the time was right to post the letter to the Daily Echo below, published on 28 December 2017, which refutes a suggestion made by Martin Kyrle, former Mayor of Eastleigh, that everyone protesting against Eastleigh’s Local Plan are “amateurs”! We thank David Betts, a parish councillor for Allbrook & North Boyatt, for standing up for the professionals opposed to, and working hard to prevent, Eastleigh’s monstrous Local Plan.

Under the heading “Not so many amateurs protesting”, David Betts wrote (click here for image):

“I REFER to the letter from Martin Kyrle (December 20) in which he refers to the recent Local Plan meeting at the Ageas Hilton at which Eastleigh Borough Council voted in favour of a highly controversial proposal to support the council leadership in the development of some 5,000+ homes and a new road to the North of Bishopstoke that will traverse areas close to ancient woodland and across the highly protected Itchen Valley – a Special Area of Conservation protected at the highest level.

“I am usually of the opinion that, at my age, 72, there is little to surprise me, but I truly believe Mr Kyrle has succeeded in raising arrogance to a new level of prominence and adopting a view totally inappropriate for someone in his position.

“He objects to criticism of his council colleagues when accused of “not listening”, but listening is more than hearing the words, it is also having an open mind to absorb input from all sides and make objective decisions. In this regard the council certainly were not listening and the decision on the plan was in direct opposition to extensive, well-informed opinion based on sound professional knowledge and experience from a wide swathe of expertise wholly relevant to the subject.

“Mr Kyrle refers to the “protesters” as amateurs and the council planning officers as “professionals” who, of course, are therefore omniscient and therefore able to make decisions impervious to challenge and in fact, before all relevant evidence is collated, which is certainly the case here!

“Mr Kyrle would do well to check his facts before expounding on the competencies of substantive individuals whose views differ from his. There were some 33 public speakers at the meeting and objectors to the plan were very much in the majority – certainly over 30. Referring to these individuals as “amateurs” is dangerous stuff indeed Mr Kyrle!

“Among their number we find, amongst others, professional surveyors, architects, highway engineers, environmental specialists and the backing of noted legal counsel with deep planning expertise.

“Objectors also included representatives from the Woodland Trust, Angling Trust and Campaign to Protect Rural England, amongst other notable organisations. The list also of professional qualifications extant within the group would do great credit to any similar number in local government or any branch of public service.

“Amateurs? I think not Mr Kyrle and I believe you should spend some time extracting your foot from your mouth!

“I am confident that many other objecting entities will be evident over the coming months in respect of the Local Plan and it is incumbent on local councillors to listen. This is one of, if the not the most, important planning decision to be made in Eastleigh for a generation. It is not a rehearsal and has to be made with the support of the local community as a whole, not a council leadership with entrenched views and closed ears.

“Eastleigh deserves better – much better!”