EXCLUSIVE: ‘Surprise’ for Lib Dem appointed vice-chairman

Leonard Crosbie

Leonard Crosbie

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IN THE wake of the Conservatives’ landslide victory in this month’s Horsham District Council elections, this evening (Wednesday May 18) the party took another historic step.

As exclusively predicted by the County Times, tonight’s annual council meeting revealed that a Tory-controlled council appointed a Lib Dem vice-chairman.

Leonard Crosbie, who has served the council with distinction for 16 years, will consequently become chairman of the council from May 2012.

The meeting also confirmed that the Conservative Claire Vickers will hold the position of chairman for the coming year.

Tonight, the newly elected vice-chairman expressed his ‘surprise’ and ‘honour’ at the result.

“I would like to thank everyone on the council for giving me this very significant surprise. I thank all those people who have been instrumental in achieving vice-chairmanship for a councillor who quite frankly feels a little humbled.

“I think it’s fair to say that the chairman (Claire Vickers) and I have known each other for a number of years in the airline business.

“The interesting point was we worked together in an area that was very competitive, suffered a lot of cut backs, and endured increases in bank rates. It all sounds very familiar doesn’t it.

“We have been here before but in a different environment, so I hope I can do my best to support the chairman and stand by her side.”

Up until tonight, the council had remained tight-lipped about all appointments but Mr Crosbie was singled out for the role in the County Times’ election Editorial Comment last week, which echoed the private thoughts of many senior Conservatives.

It read: “Leonard is a man of enormous principle who has always put the interests of Horsham ahead of party political necessity.

“He should have been offered a year as council chairman long ago - but his party badge has always been the stumbling block.

“As Horsham’s Conservatives tower above all oppositions following the local elections, now is the moment to invite Leonard to become the next vice chairman and consequently chairman of the council.”

David Holmes, leader of the Lib Dems and member for Horsham Park, welcomed the result, saying: “We genuinely welcome the fact that the Conservative group have decided to look at all councillors in deciding who the vice-chairman should be.

“It’s been a number of years since this has happened but that’s the past and this is a great chance to move forward and pave the way for the future, and we’re very grateful for that.”

Tonight’s meeting also saw the re-election of Conservative Robert Nye as Leader of the Council - a role he has held for the past two years after succeeding Liz Kitchen.

Full coverage of the annual council meeting will be in the County Times next week on Thursday 26.