LETTER: Ugly apology for democracy

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Congratulations on your plan to introduce a Free Speech Charter for councillors. I sincerely hope that you will report annually on those who have signed their agreement and those who have declined.

I would only add that perhaps you might consider whether other media that report on the contents of your paper agree to report the same percentage of controversial news as that of non-controversial items without comments such as, ‘We shall get drummed out of the club for reading this’, because I ask, ‘What club?’

I am very surprised that the chief executive of HDC has not investigated the alleged fake letters on the council website. If they are indeed fake letters then I believe he has a duty to investigate or call in the police.

As far as the council tax freeze is concerned, it could of course be a bit lower had not the Tony Blair policy of paying councillors and members of the cabinet the salaries reported been implemented.

I would suggest that anyone concerned with the cost of council services compares the cost of councillors’ expenses, etc, say in 1974/75, with members’ costs in 2012/13, adjusted for inflation.

This whole policy was supposed to have enabled a wider cross-section of the public to be involved.

As I remember, in 1974 the council was made up of such people as a titled lady, a retired bank-manager, a doctor’s wife, a local government officer, a civil servant, a master-builder, a farmer and many other ordinary people whose main concerns were for the good of the area.

It now seems that Blair’s policy has introduced members whose main concern is playing politics rather than serving the people.

When we fought for what we thought would be local democracy in the north-east corner of West Sussex rather than the unitary authority which was the alternative, little did we suspect that the outcome would be the ugly apology for democracy now being exercised in Horsham.

I now live in a unitary authority that covers an area larger than Belgium and I would welcome the kind of local democracy that was offered in West Sussex 40 years ago.

DEREK EMSLEY

(still fiercely independent)

Manse Road, Kingussie, Inverness-shire