Not democracy

10:41 10 February 2012

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In the Journal of July 16, 2009, Mr Kevin Tyrrell criticises David Daniel’s calculation (based on the number of representations made to the council) that 74 per cent of people are against the Longboat plans in Budleigh Salterton as “highly unlikely to be representative of the views of the local population.”

He wrote: “If the council really wants to ensure it does not go ‘against the public wishes’, it can only establish what the public’s wishes are by consulting them via a proper market research exercise or a census of the local population.”

When I expressed the opinion that a matter of such public concern should be decided by a local referendum (Journal, January 5), Mr Tyrrell dismissed it by writing in the Journal (January 12), “a simplistic call for a referendum seems to ignore the fact that we live in a representative democracy, where councillors are elected to make these sorts of policy decisions on behalf of their constituents.”

Now that our representatives have decided, almost unanimously (council meeting, January 9), that the public opinion should be sought by means of a survey, Mr Tyrrell is highly dubious about the validity of such a procedure and does not trust them to be impartial (Journal, January 19).

I find that the proposed questions give everybody, fairly, the opportunity to indicate their opinion and that these opinions cannot be misinterpreted. Also, by requesting the signature and address of the voters, cheating would be very risky.

I wonder whether Mr Tyrrell is no longer so confident that a majority will vote in support of the application.

Unfortunately, the planning committee of East Devon District Council is composed of councillors, only one or two of whom represent Budleigh Salterton, and if they ignore, by majority voting, the wishes of the people of Budleigh Salterton and their immediate representatives, the parish council, we cannot vote them out - which is a very undemocratic way of making planning decisions for individual communities.

B E Spurway

Fore Street Hill,

Budleigh Salterton.

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