LETTER: The public are not fools Cllr Circus

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Cllr Philip Circus last week said (15.1.15, p12) ‘None of us want this development north of Horsham. People think we want it [but] we are being forced into the housing allocations in the district plan’.

The former chairman simply cannot rewrite history. The secretary to the Conservative group of councillors, Cllr Jim Rae, wrote the minutes on 22 July 2013 reminding Cllr Circus and his colleagues of the whipped vote on North Horsham plan.

These minutes were extensively reported and commented upon in this paper in an Editorial on 21 April 2014.

Cllr Jim Rae wrote (on 22 July 2013) three days before the full council’s endorsement of the plan and concluded ‘[Conservative] members are advised that voting against a Group majority decision is not an option - unless they accept that group disciplinary proceedings will immediately follow.’

This point was emphasised in an email from deputy leader Cllr Helena Croft to then vice-chairman Cllr Christian Mitchell later that evening. At 22:57 Cllr Croft concluded a note stating: “At Group this evening after you left, it was clearly stated in the minutes of the June Group meeting, as you will see attached, along with tonight’s group minutes, that there was a strong majority in favour of the proposed Housing Strategy. The Leader at the meeting in June, made an exception to the Group rules in allowing members to speak against this publicly if they so chose, whilst also making clear that at the vote at Council, in line with Group rules, members would not vote against a Group decision but abstain. This was clearly upheld by the Group this evening, and I trust you will uphold this democratic process on Thursday [July 25].’

This Editorial, printed last year, is online www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/local/why-secrecy-and-the-threat-of-sanctions-makes-the-north-horsham-plan-unsafe-1-6009028

The public are not fools Cllr Circus. They read the facts reported in the paper – in this case the Conservative group minutes - and they don’t forget. Cllrs Dawe and his deputy Helena Croft and Cllrs Vickers and Rae very much wanted the North Horsham plan to go through. That was why a whip, with immediate threats of punishment, was applied to the North Horsham vote.

And we know since that the punishments were given: Cllr Mitchell was sacked as chairman of council and of the licensing committee, Cllr John Bailey sacked as a deputy cabinet member, Cllr Simon Town kicked off the personnel committee (all reported June 2014).

Thank goodness that the Conservative councillors along with Cllr Liz Kitchen and Josh Murphy put their residents first and did the right thing by ignoring the Gang of Four.

DAVID SHIPTON

Downsview Road, Horsham