Horsham District Council’s AGM met on 20 May for the first time after the election. Cllr Dawe was appointed Leader and he will persist with the much criticised ‘cabinet system’.
To date he has appointed Cllr Vickers (Southwater) to planning and development; Cllr Donnelly (Pulborough and Coldwaltham) finance and assets; Cllr Chowen (Cowfold, Shermansbury and West Grinstead) leisure and culture.
So half the cabinet are from the southern wards. The only concession to the northern wards is Cllr Baldwin (Holbrook East) Environment but he has consistently abstained at the last three planning meetings affecting residents in the north.
Probably no one is surprised – we are used to Cllr Dawe’s management style by now. But things went a bit further at the AGM. Down at item 13 – no doubt hoping many councillors would have gone home due to the lateness of the hour – was a rather insignificant looking item.
It was to receive the report of the Head of Legal & Democratic Services (Monitoring Officer) on amendments to the Constitution – Chairmanship of Scrutiny and Overview Committee and Sub-Committees – Chairmanship of Accounts, Audit and Governance Committee and Sub-Committees.
The existing constitution of the council allows all sub committees to appoint their own chairman – except for the two absolutely key ones – Scrutiny and Overview and Accounts, Audit and Governance. Under the existing constitution, the chairman of these two committees cannot be chosen from the dominant political party on the council – in this case the Tories. The ‘report’ simply asked councillors to change the constitution to allow the chairmen of these two committees to be drawn from across the council.
The insinuation being that of the four members of the minority party – the Liberal Democrats – there wouldn’t be sufficient choice for these two posts. What an insult to councillors like Cllr Skipp and Cllr Crosbie who have distinguished service records on the council. The good news is the motion was defeated – heavily.
Cllr Dawe will not find so many councillors willing to just roll over at his bidding in this new council.
Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON
Tennyson Close, Horsham
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