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Lack of choice over Horsham housing plan has led to ‘mayhem’ says top councillor

Horsham District Councillor Christine Costin - picture submitted by HDC

Horsham District Councillor Christine Costin - picture submitted by HDC

A senior Horsham District councillor this week condemned the lack of consultation and choice over the local plan.

“The resulting mayhem is not surprising,” Lib Dem Christine Costin said.

Condemning secrecy and political manipulation, she said: “I can see that the content of the County Times continues to be actively pursuing its campaign for Freedom of Speech and openness. The whole situation is clearly highly charged and pretty explosive! The letters page has plenty of astute comment. Congratulations to WSCT for seeking to expose the decision making process for what it has become.

“My instincts tell me that this situation cannot continue but my fear is that this Cabinet is seeking to drive their policy through come what may!”

With a decision on the plan due at a full council meeting on April 30, Mrs Costin said: “Horsham District Council is at the centre of a fierce debate about democratic decision making. It is a situation that is both painful and destructive. The processes being used to adopt a plan for Horsham’s long term future are highly questionable.

“The public and local representatives were not fully consulted on this single option, delivered without choices. The resulting mayhem is not surprising. Alternatives have been put forward but the Cabinet and leading officers have chosen not to examine them in detail or take them seriously. They have ploughed on with their intentions.

“After hearing about extreme attempts to control how members of the ruling Conservative group vote we are now informed that those members who feel strongly will be allowed to vote against the proposal at Full Council.

“The Cabinet members however will not be allowed to vote against it. Apparently the Cabinet has Collective Responsibility which means that they must not vote against a majority decision taken by them as a group, they can abstain or just stay away.

“What a mess - what a travesty for local people! This is not Westminster, this a district council which should be ‘all about’ local communities and what is most suitable for residents and businesses. Desirable solutions happen when local people are fully involved, properly informed and heard; sadly even most of their representatives don’t have that luxury any more! For me being a member of the minority group has grown into a massive disadvantage!

“Secrecy and political manipulation are not in any way acceptable. Most local district councillors live and work locally, every one of them needs to take time to understand what impact their actions will have on the communities they serve - from their wards and parishes and into the settlements that make up Horsham District as a whole.

“In the past I understand that there have been tensions between the north and south of the District because people in the south have felt that they have missed out on some of the benefits received by Horsham town. Whilst I have been a councillor I have observed great care being taken to ensure that the needs of all parts of the District are fully met and that benefits are fairly spread across the board. If the current threat to North Horsham was in fact happening in the south of the District I would be equally concerned about the consequences and would expect to support the local views.

“I’ve known for ages now that the Cabinet system was a recipe for disaster! I get no thrill out of seeing the current chaos - the system must not be allowed to deliver decisions that could obliterate the established vision that most people have of our Horsham.”

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