Monday 24th July 2023

Condemnation of “sham” consultation process with Royal Mail and Brighton and Hove City Council

Residents have lodged a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) against Royal Mail's recent "community newsletter," citing inaccuracies and misleading information about the bid for a large-scale depot on Patcham Court Farm. 

The newsletter, distributed in July 2023 to select houses in Patcham, did not make it clear that Royal Mail is re-launching a planning application for a postal factory and that residents must re-lodge their objections directly with the council before 3rd August. Instead, Royal Mail encouraged residents to provide feedback directly to them, potentially bypassing the official objection process. 

In 2022, residents and experts such as Southern Water and National Highways first expressed grave concerns about the risks the proposed industrial development poses to the city such as: water shortages, flooding, pollution and an increase of road traffic accidents, particularly the risk of HGV and articulated lorries in the city’s “last village”. However, despite continued concerns about these risks, Royal Mail has now resubmitted their bid for public land.

Rebecca Kimber, the coordinator of campaign efforts against Royal Mail's bid, said: “Residents in Brighton and Hove have the right to know about Royal Mail's bid to buy our publicly owned land. Their plans for a new depot on Patcham Court Farm could jeopardise our water security and cause problems in the city for generations to come. Most people in Brighton don't even know this is happening. Many people are now on holiday, they will return to this worrying news and find out that it's too late to have their say."

Concerns about the consultation process go beyond the recent newsletter. To date, Royal Mail and the Council has not offered a face-to-face meeting. In January 2022, despite the absence of COVID restrictions, only a virtual meeting was offered to residents, excluding those without digital access. Many residents did not know about the online meetings until after they happened, due to strike action from Royal Mail workers and postal delays. 

The online meetings were plagued with technical issues, including faulty links that led residents to a blank website that asked residents for a password that no one was sent. The format of the online meetings was heavily restricted, only allowing sanctioned speakers.  

Despite it being a legal requirement, initially, in 2022 there were no Statutory Planning Notices erected on the site, until residents pushed for it. The council planning team also did not upload the holding objection from National Highways that was submitted in May 2023 and it only appeared on the planning portal in early July 2023. 

Given the significant impact the proposed development could have on the city, residents are demanding a comprehensive public consultation open to all.

Residents can make objections on the council’s website and must use reference BH2022/02232 by 3rd August. 


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