Reaction after two Horsham Tory councillors resign

JPCT 130312 Park North, Hosham District Council office. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 130312 Park North, Hosham District Council office. Photo by Derek Martin

By-elections have been called in two Horsham District Council wards after the resignation of two Conservative councillors last week.

Andrew Dunlop, formerly one of two members for Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead Ward, gave up his district council post for business reasons and Chris Mason, former member for Chantry, resigned for personal reasons.

Mr Mason held one of three seats in the same ward as leader of HDC, Ray Dawe.

The by-elections will be held with the West Sussex County Council elections on Thursday May 2 and people have two weeks to submit nominations.

In his time as district councillor, Mr Dunlop hit the local and national headlines a year ago after a resident sent the County Times pictures of his Jaguar parked in a council car park for free before catching the train to London.

That story later appeared in several national newspapers because of his links with the Government at that time.

He was working as chief advisor to the Prime Minister on Scotland in the run up to the referendum on Scottish Independence.

Elected in May 2011, it is widely reported that he also worked in the Thatcher Government.

Mr Mason was first elected to HDC in 2007 and was a Storrington Parish Council member until 2011 when he stood down to concentrate on district council duties.

He told the County Times this week there was ‘nothing sinister’ in his resignation from the council.

He said: “It is simply the case that increased family and other commitments make it impossible for me to devote the time that I think is necessary to properly represent all the people of Chantry Ward.

“I therefore, thought it best to stand aside for someone who is able to make what is a very substantial commitment and share the workload with Jim (Sanson) and Ray.”

He also confirmed that despite a number of requests, he will not be rejoining Storrington Parish Council.

HDC is now taking nominations for new councillors.

The UK Independence Party is hoping to have a good result, following on from its success in the Eastleigh Parliamentary by-election when it came second, ahead of the Conservative Party.

West Sussex UKIP co-ordinator John Wallace said: “Our support is growing at the most extraordinary rate. It’s a very exciting time for UKIP.

“We are definitely going to have people standing in any election for seats we can get our hands on.”

Nomination papers for candidates must be delivered to Horsham District Council, Park North, North Street, Horsham, RH12 1RL by noon on Friday April 5.

For more information on the by-election or electoral registration, contact HDC on 01403 215126 or email elections@horsham.gov.uk

The County Times approached both Mr Dunlop and leader of the Horsham District Conservative group Ray Dawe for comments, but did not receive a reply before going to press.