Horsham District Council leader resigns - reaction

THE LEADER of Horsham District Council, councillor Robert Nye, has resigned as Leader and district councillor today (14 December 2011).

The decision has been made for personal reasons and comes into effect immediately.

Full details, analysis and comment available in tomorrow’s County Times.

Councillor Ray Dawe, Deputy Leader of Horsham District Council, has become the acting Leader of the Council and will remain so until the Council appoints a new Leader. This is expected to be at the Council meeting to be held on February 22, 2012.

A by-election will be held on a date to be agreed in the New Year for the now vacant Horsham District Council seat for Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham.

Explaining his resignation, Mr Nye said: “During the last 6 months I have experienced financial difficulties related to the recession in the construction industry (nursery is less than 5% of business turnover).

“Over the last few weeks I have put in place actions that I am confident will ensure all creditors are paid although this will take longer than would be expected under normal trading conditions.

“While I am only following a recognised procedure open to anyone in my circumstances (and would not technically be required to stand down) I am sure, particularly considering the current discussions surrounding the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, there will be those who choose to make as much mischief with my personal circumstances as they can.

“In order to avoid embarrassment to the council, of which I am very proud and have been honoured to serve for the past 12.5 years, and the Conservative Group who are the backbone of all that Horsham is, it is better I resign with immediate effect as Leader and as a councillor.

“I would like to make it very clear my decision is driven only by my personal circumstances and has nothing to do with the impending decisions around the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.”

HORSHAM’S Liberal Democrat leader David Holmes yesterday gave the County Times a mixed response to Mr Nye’s resignation.

“Personally, I’m very sorry,” he said.

“I think Robert is a good leader, has been a good leader, and it’s very sad for him personally that he’s got problems with his business, which is not unique in this current financial climate.

“I think he’s a good guy and he had some good ideas for the council.”

He said Mr Nye had come up with ways to increase the council’s funds, for instance by the development of Southwater.

“He had some productive ideas about looking for ways to make extra income for the council.

“I’m hoping that whoever becomes leader of the council will continue down that direction.

“It would be terrible for the district if there is some sort of hiatus.

“I’m hopeful however that there will be a re-think on the future of Broadbridge Heath leisure centre.”

Dr Holmes said there should be a leisure centre - either the old one or a new one - in Broadbridge Heath.

“I also think there should be a bit more imagination about the town hall.

“I don’t want to see it sold off for another clothing store, I want to see it used for the community.”

ALREADY council insiders are speculating as to who will succeed Robert Nye as leader of Horsham District Council.

Mr Nye dramatically resigned as both leader and a Conservative councillor on Wednesday due to financial difficulties with his business.

Now members of his Tory group will choose a new leader - probably in February.

In the interim, deputy leader Raw Dawe will take on the role on an acting basis.

But speculation is already gathering pace as to who will take over.

It will be a tough job - balancing the demands of a difficult economic climate and the need for cost controls with the expectations of residents over the facilities they benefit from.

Brian Donnelly is already being suggested as one possible candidate.

But who else?