LETTER: Names to recall at election time

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Cllr Brian O’Connell (who represents Henfield where no houses are earmarked in HDC’s plan) is now chairman-elect, following a whipped vote, at the February 2014 council meeting, having been proposed by Cllr Kate Rowbottom (who represents Billingshurst where the number of homes in HDC’s plan has been reduced from 1,500 to 500) and seconded by Cllr John Chidlow (who represents Southwater where the number of homes in HDC’s plan has been reduced from 2,500 to 500). We mustn’t forget that Cllr Brian O’Connell is also Cllr Claire Vickers’ cabinet deputy in the planning brief.

We learnt from reading Cllr Kate Rowbottom, Cllr Roy Cornell, and Chairman Cllr Philip Circus’ letters (6.3.14, 13.3.14) that nearly two thirds of the despotic Tory Group took the unprecedented step to dump Cllr Christian Mitchell (currently vice-chairman) as punishment for speaking up for residents in Horsham against Cllr Dawe and Cllr Vickers’ hatched plan to concrete over our Horsham-Crawley strategic gap and dump all the houses there rather than spreading the houses across the whole of the district.

On 11 January 2012 the Standards Committee looked into the conduct of the new chairman-elect, Cllr Brian O’Connell, regarding a planning matter (certificate of lawfulness) on his land at Wineham.

Although the full complaint wasn’t upheld with the committee stating: ‘no action should be taken on the allegation’, because, ‘the complainant had not disclosed any evidence to suggest Councillor O’Connell had been acting in his official capacity at the time of the relevant conduct’, the Standard’s Committee went on to state (para A): ‘The Sub-Committee did however express concern about the likely perception of his conduct in his private life by the public and the effect on his reputation as a councillor and that of the Council as a whole. And at paragraph B: ‘the personal details of the complainant should remain confidential and should not be disclosed to the Member [because the ‘complainant was an employee of the Council and it was felt that disclosure of their details to the Member concerned may prejudice the complainant’s ability to do the complainant’s job.’]’ (Minutes p7:www.horsham.gov.uk/committee/agendas/Standards%20Committee/120314/Agenda_120314.pdf)

I’m not surprised that not one of these people involved in this sleazy affair of punishing Cllr Christian Mitchell for representing the public – namely Claire Vickers and her deputy Brian O’Connell; Kate Rowbottom; John Chidlow; Roy Cornell or Philip Circus - have signed the County Times’ ‘Free Speech Charter’.

And they all find themselves in the company of their leader Cllr Ray Dawe (Storrington) and his ‘absolute loyal’ deputy, Helena Croft (Roffey North) and Cllr Jim Rae (Holbrook East) who also haven’t signed the Free Speech Charter either.

You would think that if they truly cared about the public that they are supposed to represent then they would want to be on the Free Speech ‘Roll of Honour’, wouldn’t you?(www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/local/slideshow-county-times-launches-free-speech-charter-roll-of-honour-1-5979362)

It’s clear that their apparent refusal to sign this very necessary Free Speech Charter says it all – as if we didn’t know it already.

But at least we have their names on the wall of shame ready print and to take to the polling booth in the local elections in May 2015.

Thank you Editor Gary Shipton and Political Editor Joshua Powling and your team at the County Times for exposing the ‘rump’ of them (3.4.14) – without you and a free press there is a real risk that Horsham will, under Cllr Dawe’s and Croft’s leadership of HDC, become once again a Rotten Borough.

DAVID SHIPTON

Downsview Road, Horsham