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Review of council’s cabinet system delayed due to ‘politically feverish atmosphere’

JPCT 270613 Official opening of th West Sussex County Times new offices. Chairman of Horsham District Council Philip Circus. Photo by derek Martin ENGPPP00320130627124008

JPCT 270613 Official opening of th West Sussex County Times new offices. Chairman of Horsham District Council Philip Circus. Photo by derek Martin ENGPPP00320130627124008

A councillor who called for a review of the cabinet system last month now believes the present ‘politically feverish atmosphere’ is not the right time to review the issue.

Philip Circus (Con, Chanctonbury) who originally called for a debate on a return to the committee system told members of Horsham District Council’s Scrutiny and Overview Committee on Monday that he had changed his mind in part after reading discussion of the issue in the County Times.

The ‘politically feverish atmosphere’ in the run up to next year’s district council elections was not the right time to look at the issue, he felt.

Mr Circus said: “I became convinced by one of the letters I saw in last week’s paper and I began to doubt whether we could have a dispassionate discussion on these issues that it needs.

“It’s not about attacking the leader or the cabinet or attacking anybody. It’s about what is the best way to run the council.”

He added: “It’s worth mentioning the leader [Ray Dawe] says he favours a discussion in the first year of the next council.”

One letter, he said, had suggested he had only proposed the review as a ‘way I was going to save my seat at the next election’.

He added: “It’s nonsense, but it does create an atmosphere. Why should we saddle a new council with the decisions of the old council?”

The committee decided to put several topics on its work programme including a review of the council’s property management, training and information provided to newly elected councillors, the effectiveness for provision for local residents who are in a financial crisis, a look into why the council has a lack of a five-year housing land supply, the council’s heritage strategy, and the county council’s £14m black hole for infrastructure work west of Horsham.

Last week it was revealed by the County Times that West Sussex County Council had a £14m black hole in funding for projects to be provided as part of the West of Horsham developments currently under construction either side of the A24.

At Monday’s meeting Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham) described the situation as an ‘absolute mess’ and although it was a county council matter he felt they had to look into it with the North Horsham development in the pipeline.

He said: “I do not want us getting lumbered with costs that are not funded.”

Proposing the review of HDC’s property management procedure Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield) said: “It concerns me we never seem to spend money that’s budgeted on repair of our assets.”

It was also discussed whether the committee, or its sub-committees could look at the soon to be introduced Community Infrastructure Levy, a new way of securing contributions from developers, and the proposed council move from its current headquarters in North Street.

 

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