I deplore the recent conduct of the Conservative leadership on Horsham District Council (HDC) over the selection of chairman for this year. This can only reinforce public perception of a small group of councillors controlling events through secret decisions made behind closed doors.
The role of the chairman of the district council is to represent the entire council and District, not a party group. The role is the same as a Mayor in a Borough, not a political role but an honorary position to represent the public at civic events such as laying the wreath on Remembrance Sunday.
It’s been the established custom of councillors to elect a vice-chairman who then has a year to prepare for the role of chairman.
Yet we read of unprecedented decisions last month by the Conservative leadership, to instruct all 33 Conservatives out of 44 councillors through a ‘three-line whip’ that they must vote against the vice-chairman and vote instead for a new candidate.
Despite being asked to explain by other councillors no justification has been given. In my opinion these actions by the Conservative leadership have brought HDC and the office of chairman into disrepute.
Cllr Christian Mitchell has been vice-chairman for the last year. He is a popular and well-regarded councillor.
Over recent years I have observed him to work very hard for the benefit of Horsham District as a whole and his ward, with great skill in identifying issues and bringing people together that has earned him a high level of personal respect.
This has been my consistent observation while I have been involved in several local issues, often in opposition to him, making me think he was eminently suitable to represent us all as chairman.
Primrose Copse, Horsham