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Positive Local Democracy

by Haddenham Webteam – 29th June 2015
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The forthcoming local referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan is a good example of localism at work in the way that Government presumably intended.

Over the last two years, all residents of Haddenham have had the opportunity to contribute to the formulation of a Neighbourhood Plan, through public meetings, workshops and other forms of local consultation.

Haddenham's Plan has now been published and, if accepted by a majority of those who choose to vote in the referendum on Thursday 16th July, will provide an instrument that AVDC will need to take into account when considering planning applications from developers.

Healthy debate and discussion will continue up until the day of the referendum – indeed, Haddenham Village Society is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday 7th July in which it is anticipated that the YES and NO options will be considered in a hustings style debate.

The key challenge for us all, however, is maintaining good community relations while holding some differing opinions about the Neighbourhood Plan.

In a village of approximately 2,000 homes, there is bound to be a range of views and opinions. Many of these have been voiced and taken into account in formulating the Neighbourhood Plan. We invite those who wish to reject the Neighbourhood Plan at this late stage to offer their views in a positive and constructive way.

Some folks have recently placed into the public domain a very dubious set of arguments, implying that the team who worked so hard to formulate the Neighbourhood Plan were motivated out of a desire to promote their own vested interests. The editor of this website has also seen correspondence claiming that communication from this group of naysayers "offers a balanced view which Haddenham.net have (sic) been unwilling to publish".

Neither of these claims has any basis in fact.

Here are some truths:

The Parish Council led the public consultation process with the assistance of some committee members of Haddenham Village Society and a few individual residents with particular skills in facilitating group discussions and workshops.

The Parish Council is comprised of individuals who serve the Haddenham community on a totally voluntary basis. They each give up huge amounts of their personal time and attend regular meetings at least twice monthly out of a desire to help provide a much needed administrative role on behalf of the village. Several councillors have served the village in this way for many years.

The consultations with the village community were born out of this same ethos, and the lead councillor on this project, Andy Fell, committed huge amounts of time and energy while holding down a very demanding day job.

As far as the local referendum is concerned, the Haddenham Parish Council can only encourage local residents to vote. As a corporate body, it is totally impartial and provides no support or funding for either the YES or the NO side of the debate.

The Village Society holds talks and presentations, organises outings & excursions, runs fund-raising events, supports community & activity groups, and makes representations on planning applications and other issues affecting our village. It is 50 years old this year, and its committee serves the village on a voluntary basis.

Both the Parish Council and the Village Society committees have members who also contribute very actively in running and promoting the Haddenham Beer Festivals, which have raised huge sums of money to help local clubs, schools and other organisations purchase equipment and provide facilities they would otherwise not be able to afford. These are community-minded endeavours that help to maintain the village spirit that all residents are able to appreciate and enjoy.

Haddenham.net is a community website run on a totally non-commercial, voluntary basis. It seeks to provide a platform for all age groups, all organisations and all community events. It also offers a Share & Chat forum which (as long as the content is not defamatory, libellous or obscene) is totally uncensored. If individuals wish to express concerns or urge others to vote NO in the referendum through that forum, there is nothing to stop them.

It is in everyone's interest to ensure that discussions in the lead up to the referendum remain mutually respectful and do not seek to impugn the motives of those who have helped create our Neighbourhood Plan or communicate its aims.

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