Last Friday (9 February), Lewes District Council went through the motions of consulting the people of Lewes about what we wanted to see on the Phoenix Development. This should have happened several years ago. But somehow it got overlooked. An almost random selection of 'key stakeholders' assembled. So little time was given for preparation that major bodies like Friends of Lewes and the Chamber of Commerce did not have time to organise a members' meeting. So, the views they expressed were the best guess of the leadership. Sports were not represented (to forestall suggestions that the Albion ground be sited on the Phoenix?). But three arts groups sponsored by the developer were invited.
Cllr David Neighbour made it clear there'd be trouble if there was any nonsense - and the afternoon coffee was duly cancelled. We were split into groups - at least the class sizes were small - to brainstorm issues like flooding and housing. Hundreds of random ideas were written on cards and pasted onto brown paper. Each pupil/participant was given three stickers to vote for the ones they liked best. Then the Head called us back to Assembly for a summary that seemed to bear no relation to anything that had gone on before. No debate. Job done. Box ticked. The Town had finally been consulted.
Feel aggrieved? Phoenix Action and Lewes Matters with other residents' groups are going to make up the democratic deficit by arranging a public meeting organised by at 7.45pm on 5 March in the Town Hall. JS


Public consultation on the Phoenix Development. ‘Job done, box ticked’