LETTER: Apathy Party is overall winner

In over 30 years living in Horsham I have never seen such a sycophantic, biased and badly researched comment piece by an Editor as that following the county elections on May 2.

That the County Times can now be recognised for what it is, an entirely partisan, right wing media outlet, is a pity for the people of Horsham and District and for democracy.

A few facts, rather than fawning obsequiousness are in order.

The winners on Thursday were none of those standing but the Apathy Party. Less than a third of eligible voters bothered to vote.

Yes the Tories and UKIP did well, but as a percentage of those eligible to vote their performance was poor.

We need to re-engage with the 70 per cent who did not vote. That will not be achieved by a movement to the right and to the party that does not recognise the existence of society.

To laud the Tories in West Sussex for careful stewardship is to miss the point entirely.

West Sussex may have one of the lowest council taxes, but it also has one of the lowest levels of per capita funding for education in the country.

No doubt influenced by the level of use of private education by many Tory members for their offspring who cannot face supporting our state education system, which educates 93 per cent of children, so fail to fully understand its needs!

The problem is all West Sussex children suffer from such a policy of underfunding, a situation that has existed for over 30 years and is a record that should shame the local Tories.

The stringency on local budgets because of the unwillingness to raise council tax even by inflation, which would be entirely reasonable, means that all local services are poorer for it, including social care, education, police, transport.

I wonder whether the Editor has seen the appalling state of the county’s roads and number of potholes.

Should fixing the roads not be a priority for the county in the interests of both road safety and good management, rather than frugal parsimony?

There is a pending crisis in social care and community provision for the elderly and infirm in the county, but no doubt for the Editor and some of the well off Tories, possibly with private provision, helping those in greatest need appears to be of limited importance.

Much better to ingratiate themselves with the residents of Shoreham beach and pay £10m for a new foot bridge so that the residents of those high value properties can get to the pub (maybe even to share a pint with Mr Farage) or shops ten minutes quicker!

Rather than raising council tax, could these alleged excellent stewards of economic probity not consider adding two bands to the council tax so that those in the highest value properties paid slightly more! But that might offend some Tory voters.

Personally, having help founded and run two very successful companies that were subsequently sold to larger ground breaking private concerns and worked for over 40 years in the private sector, all I see from the local elected Tory councillors is short termism, short-sighted, and, at times, incompetent management and performance at both HDC and county level.

I would not have employed them or even put them in charge of the proverbial whelk stall, let alone the complex multi-million pound businesses that local councils have become.

The editorial talks about the Tory focus on the family and upholding Christian values, the latter being hardly evident in the local Tory approach to social housing provision which some wish to see reduced in favour of building more mansions!

Whilst the families of Messrs Mellor, Archer, Johnson etc know the real meaning of Tory family values!

What a pity that there is not a more balanced local newspaper, one not owned by a right leaning conglomerate to provide objective reporting, argument and analysis and challenge.

But I think that prospect is unlikely!

L.N. PRICE

Smithbarn, Horsham

Editor’s note: The County Times is not owned by a ‘right leaning’ conglomerate. It does seek to reflect the mood of the local community - who in these elections voted overwhelmingly for the two right wing parties, the Conservatives and UKIP.

It would be very odd if we failed to acknowledge that fact and extraordinarily bad form if I omitted to congratulate them on their success.

It is the Lib Dems who appear to have abandoned the local debate in these pages.

All Mr Price’s excellent columns sent to us have been published in a fair and generous way but he alone seems to take the trouble.

I am not aware that I have ever rejected a letter or comment from his district or county colleagues - the absence of their voice and the strong comment from the Tories and UKIP is down to the willingness of the parties to engage.

On a day to day basis I am sure Conservatives at HDC would agree we challenge them very robustly - and I very much doubt they share Mr Price’s view that we are a right leaning organisation! The Lib Dems should treat these results as a wake-up call and up their game.