The rump of Tory councillors from the ‘Deep South’ (from which Cllr Helena Croft now seeks election) approved Cllr Claire Vickers’ report which came before them on 18 March supposedly responding to the issues raised by the Inspector.
We look forward to her so-called ‘public consultation’ coincidentally timed to clash with the Easter Holidays and the general election. This happened before both in 2013 and 2014 where those consultations were also held over major holidays.
To the observer it looked ominously like Tory councillors were doing as they were told. Had they met before to discuss how they must vote? So apart from a brave six Tory councillors, the Lib Dems and the lone voice of Roger Arthur (UKIP), the vote was carried with no speeches from those Tories that voted for it. Why?
I note that councillor Helena Croft, deputy leader, who continues to refuse to sign the Free Speech Charter, was absent without any explanation given to her whereabouts by the chairman or chief executive, or anyone else from the ‘politburo’ of the council that sit physically elevated above the backbench councillors on their long podium.
Nine members of the public braved the Lions’ Den and were allowed to speak for two minutes with the Chairman O’Connell revelling in his new role keeping the horrible public strictly to their two minutes. The contributions from the public were excellent.
Concerns as to why the big rush? The Inspector didn’t say the plan was ‘sound’ – he said ‘not sound as it stands’. The Inspector called for a ‘full public consultation’ – councillors Claire Vickers and Ray Dawe would not have a clue what that means. Where are these extra 2,000 houses going to go? This has not been explained.
The definition of the word ‘around’ which has suddenly appeared means there could be a ten per cent increase of existing housing numbers – so 2,500 in North Horsham after the election then becomes 2,750.
It would not have made any difference to wait until the newly elected council of all 44 members meets after 7 May, but for some reason, it has to be rushed through before. Why? Well maybe councillors Ray Dawe, Helena Croft and Claire Vickers decided they might not have such control over the council after the election.
But it can still all be unravelled and with different leadership – there should be new thinking, more concern about taking people along not this current style using whipping and threats ‘if we don’t agree now....’, more councillors with the bottle to stand up and be counted.
With decent leadership and a better balance of elected councillors we might be able to heal the wounds that have created a North/South divide in the District under councillors Ray Dawe’s and Helena Croft’s leadership.
North Parade, Horsham