FREEDOM OF INFORMATION IS A RIGHT – except when MSDC say it might “cause a discussion”….

We’ve already said publicly that we are very unhappy with MSDC’s SYSTRA Transport Study. This unbelievably suggests that building hundreds more houses exiting onto the already congested Folders Lane and Keymer Road will be just fine. It won’t lead to traffic gridlock at all!

We believe there are serious flaws in the SYSTRA work, and will shortly be releasing our own evidence on this.

We have also been using Freedom of Information to try and get to the bottom of these claims, in particular the way that SYSTRA seems to contradict previous expert studies.

We have had some very interesting responses from MSDC….

At Scrutiny Committee in January MSDC’s Sally Blomfield said of the study: “We’ve had comments from the Department of Transport who are substantially content with it”.

We asked to see those comments, but the response from MSDC was:
“We have nothing on file from the Department of Transport related to the Systra study/methodology.”

That’s strange – those two statements can’t both be true…

Then we asked about Highways England – what did they say about the methodology?

The response we got from MSDC was:
“Confirmation that the base model is of sufficient robustness, response to Regulation 18 consultation, and subsequent Technical Note which reviews the supporting evidence is appended.”

(It gets a bit complicated now, but it’s important).

That Technical Note was Technical Note 3, and it referred frequently to Notes 1 and 2, and SYSTRA’s response to Note 1. So we asked to see those 3 documents, because nothing can be properly understood or explained without them.

And the final response, just in from MSDC, was a cracker. Our request has been refused:

“It is not in the public interest for draft documents to be released because they will SET OFF DISCUSSION about matters that have been concluded in the final document. This outweighs any interest an individual might have in seeing all the workings before a document is completed.”

Heaven forbid that residents might want to discuss how conclusions were reached that will affect them for years to come.

Once again MSDC seek to conceal how and why they continue to push for the precious greenfields south of Folders Lane to be concreted over.

We have of course told MSDC that this refusal is unacceptable, and asking again for the documents. Next step will be the Information Commissioner – again…

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