I was very surprised to discover that, at Council Meetings, Horsham District Council has swept away the public right to ask questions relating to items that are not on the meeting agenda, whilst retaining that same right for councillors!
Digging further I discovered that all of the other District Councils in West Sussex continue to allow their residents to do this. Why would HDC step out of line with neighbouring councils in this way? Why should residents of Crawley, Worthing, Chichester and everywhere else countywide be accorded this right, whilst Horsham District residents are denied it?
Prior to this constitutional change, and for the last five years (to my knowledge), Horsham residents have had this privilege. The questions had to be submitted in advance, quite rightly, so there was time for HDC to research and prepare a response.
However they were not inundated and questions not relating to the agenda were fairly infrequent, but nonetheless important and relevant.
A few residents have availed themselves of the opportunity and asked questions on such topics as the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, Horsham District Indoor Bowls, Green Waste collection charges, West of Horsham Section 106 agreements, and councillors’ allowances and expenses.
Why won’t our council welcome into its chamber a motivated resident who wishes to ask a question in person (time limited to two minutes), listen carefully to the prepared answer and then have the opportunity to query the answer with a follow up question? What are they afraid of?
They can control their own Agendas if they like but they should not be allowed to control the ‘agenda’ of their voters. In the UK we pride ourselves on our sense of fair play and our democratic values, particularly freedom of expression.
However, it appears that in West Sussex some have a ‘fairer play’ than others. No wonder people are disengaging with politics and have very little respect for politicians!
Cox Green, Rudgwick
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