The County Times today launched its Roll of Honour for those councillors and political parties at Horsham District Council who have committed themselves to our Free Speech Charter - which aims to put the interest of residents at the heart of the local decision-making process.
UKIP and the Lib Dems as political groups have both signed up to the Charter along with many of their councillors. As a result these two parties will qualify for a regular column in the newspaper exploring local issues and how they would tackle them.
A minority of Conservatives on Horsham District Council have also made the pledge but to date this has not been echoed by their party.
The list of signatories will be published regularly in the County Times and online - along with the names of those who have chosen not to sign.
As local elections approach, candidates will also be included who have signed.
UKIP which is the main opposition party on West Sussex County Council has also signed along with all its county councillors as well as the Lib Dem group there. The county Conservatives are currently considering an invitation to sign. A separate Roll of Honour will be produced for this authority.
The following Horsham District councillors have signed:
Frances Haigh (leader)
Dr David Skipp
Dr David Holmes
The Charter has been launched in response to claims that the ruling Tory group at Horsham whip votes, make key decisions in secret group meetings, and vet letters and articles sent to the County Times.
It follows the unprecedented deselection of Mr Mitchell as chairman elect in a whipped vote. He said he had paid the price for articulating his residents’ concerns about massive development in North Horsham.
The Charter states: “I undertake to speak, write and vote on behalf of my constituents without fear or favour of party discipline. If I am a member of a political party, I will respect its values and honour its pre-election manifesto pledges - but I will always put first the people I am elected to serve.”