WE NEED YOUR RESPONSE…
We need to know immediately if you think we should fight on, and – given that we do not presently have sufficient funds to do this – if you can contribute to the cost of doing so.
WHAT IS THE CASE?
Following the recent legal Letter of Claim Mid Sussex District Council have admitted they made an error when presenting the Site Allocations DPD for adoption on 29th June – crucial papers were missing from the information given to Councillors to make their decision. Whether they did this out of incompetence or to mislead councillors, we will let you decide. Either way, this means that the vote on 29th June was in effect unlawful, but despite this the DPD remains legally adopted.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
MSDC have admitted their error and by way of a remedy have offered tohold an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council on 10th August to reaffirm the vote of 29th June – this time with the correct papers.
This is an attempt by MSDC to control the process and ensure the DPD remains adopted. It is no coincidence that 10th August is also the deadline for us to file the legal claim – if we wait for the outcome of their meeting it will be too late to take legal action.
And our legal advice is that in any case the proposed vote on 10th August is meaningless – you can’t reaffirm an unlawful vote and MSDC don’t have the legal power to “unadopt” the DPD themselves.
The DPD remains legally adopted unless a Court Judgment officially declares its adoption void. (It’s a bit like when everyone sees that the referee missed a handball in a football match, but unless it’s officially declared “handball” by VAR there won’t be a penalty and the result of the match still stands).
DO WE FIGHT ON?
We need to decide in the next few days whether to take the case to court as there is a legal deadline for action. Whether we do so depends on you as we take action on behalf of our supporters and what you think matters. Plus, we will need to raise the money to pay for it.
We need to know if you are prepared to fund the case, and we’ll need pledges from you by Thursday 5 August.
WILL WE WIN?
Our legal team estimates that the chance of winning is 70-30. This is good odds coming from a barrister, they are normally more conservative than this. Remember MSDC have already admitted their mistake.
WHAT WOULD A WIN LOOK LIKE?
A “win” will mean that the DPD is no longer adopted. In effect it winds the clock back to 28th June. MSDC will then have to present the DPD at a Full Council Meeting again and vote on it.
However, it does not remove Sites SA12 & SA13 from the DPD. It only means that the Council are voting again on the whole plan, and while we will canvass all the councillors and have the chance to ask more questions at the meeting about the missing information, there is no guarantee that the outcome of this additional Council meeting will be any different from 29th June.
WHAT WOULD A WIN ACHIEVE?
It buys time. It gives us more time to try to convince the Councillors of the value of Sites SA12 & SA13, and that they should pause or reject the whole DPD and reconsider.
It also buys time for upcoming national legislation such as the Environment Bill, which could protect sites such as ours, to come into law.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
We estimate based on legal advice that the cost of taking the action would be approximately £35,000 (plus VAT). We would take out insurance to protect against having to pay MSDC’s costs if we lost.
WHAT ARE WE ASKING YOU?
SOFLAG has always represented the views of you, our supporters, and we will only go ahead with this legal action if you want us to.
And if you want us to, you will have to donate money to cover the costs. However if we win there is a good chance that MSDC will be ordered to pay our costs and we may be able to return a proportion of your donation. But there are no guarantees, and you should only do this if you can afford to lose the full amount of your contribution.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON’T GO TO COURT?
The DPD remains adopted and planning applications will soon come in for sites SA12 & SA13. You may have already seen the plans for SA13, with SA12 to follow, so this will move a stage closer to reality. Thakeham have said they intend to apply for planning this Autumn to move along quickly. SOFLAG will of course fight these applications, but with no guarantee of success. (Note – the developers may well submit planning applications anyway, regardless of whether or not we take legal action against MSDC).
Let us know what you think. PLEASE RESPOND BY THURSDAY 4 AUGUST – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you think we should pursue this legal action against MSDC?
If you think we should, how much could you pledge to contribute? We would fund raise through the well-respected legal crowdfunding site CROWD JUSTICE and would need the money in the next couple of weeks.
This is the last chance we have to fight MSDC’s Development Plan Document with all the harm it will cause to the wildlife and environment. It is up to you…
Please email your reply to email@example.com