Democratic process

Date: Friday 12th October 2018

THE last thing on Eden Council’s mind when it launched its “public engagement” over the Penrith masterplan would have been the involvement of the police.

Yet that is what happened on Thursday as officers were called to Penrith Town Hall by the authority in response to a gathering of anti-masterplan campaigners. They were intent on getting their message across, even though the meeting of the council was being held to discuss the implementation of a different document, the local plan, which is already years late.

No offences were committed, but the protest is an indication of the strength of feeling the masterplan proposals have whipped up, coming as it does hard on the heels of a march on Saturday in which hundreds of people flooded the streets of Penrith as part of a campaign to “save the Beacon” from development.

One of the most prominent campaigners was reminded on Thursday that he had to respect the democratic process. It is an admirable sentiment, but protesters feel that it is the council which has so far failed to respect that process in view of the secretive way in which the masterplan was drawn up.

Councillors find they are confronted by campaigners at every meeting they attend, even though they have not yet been given the chance to formally comment in public on the masterplan. That is also part of the democratic process, so they had better get used to it.