Independent launches challenge to dumped council deputy leader in Henfield

Mike Morgan standing as an independent in Henfield, pictured with previous independent councillors Sheila Matthews who is standing down. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150414-132451001

Mike Morgan standing as an independent in Henfield, pictured with previous independent councillors Sheila Matthews who is standing down. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150414-132451001

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The dumped deputy leader of the council’s bid to be re-elected in a seat almost 13 miles from her Horsham home could be thwarted by a new independent candidate.

Mike Morgan, who has lived in the village for more than 40 years, is currently Henfield Parish Council’s vice chairman and has served there for 27 years, is hoping to succeed independent councillor Sheila Matthews, who is stepping down after 20 years.

Helena Croft, still Horsham District Council’s deputy leader, was deselected as a candidate for her current Roffey North ward in February by the Horsham Conservative Association.

But just one month later the Arundel and South Downs Conservative Association, which covers the southern half of the Horsham district, picked her as one of its two election candidates in Henfield, which is almost 13 miles from her Horsham home.

The association currently has one Tory representing them in Henfield, HDC chairman Brian O’Connell, along with Mrs Matthews.

Mrs Matthews expressed ‘deep concern’ at the news in March and said she would spend the next few weeks trying to find someone to stand as an independent in Henfield.

Speaking to the County Times this week Mr Morgan said: “My main concern is how can somebody who lives 14 miles away know what goes on in Henfield and can work for Henfield. That is not good for our village. We need someone who knows the village.”

He added: “I do not feel that is right that somebody living so far away should be our representative in Horsham.”

He retired a few years ago, worked for solicitors Griffith Smith Farrington Webb in Henfield, and previously served as Henfield Parish Council’s chairman for four years.

He is also well-known in the village for his work in organising the summer show, has helped run the Poppy Appeal in the district for 17 years, and is the treasurer of the fundraising committee of the Scout Centre Building Appeal.

He added: “I know Henfield fairly well and perhaps I can go on and do a bit more at the district council.”

Mr Morgan described how Henfield had taken more than its fair share of housing, and he was ‘totally opposed’ to a scheme for a new 10,000-home settlement east of the village.

He also felt traffic remained a problem and while they had a vibrant high street, the challenge was to keep it thriving, especially as there were some parking issues.

Mrs Matthews, who has given her support to Mr Morgan, added: “I really felt we ought to have somebody who represents Henfield and who lives in the village.”

When Mrs Croft was announced as one of the two Tory candidates for Henfield, she said: “I am delighted to have now been adopted as one of their candidates. I would be proud to represent Henfield on the council of Horsham district which has been my home for the last 26 years.”

She was asked if she intended to commit to moving to Henfield if elected, but did not respond to the enquiry.

Other candidates in Henfield are: Paul Crowe for Labour, Steve Law for the Green Party, and the Lib Dems’ Jessica Sproxton Miller.

For a full list of HDC candidates see pages 12-13.