Since July 2013 when the Gang of Four, councillors Ray Dawe, Helena Croft, Claire Vickers and Jim Rae, supported by southern councillors, Philip Circus, Brian O’Connell and Kate Rowbottom, revealed their new plans to dump 2,500 homes, crematoria, a 500,000 sq ft industrial and warehouse park, a secondary school in the wrong location, and a large supermarket in the strategic gap between Horsham and Crawley, hitherto Francis Maude MP has virtually said nothing.
Then one week after the vote was taken by councillors on April 30 Mr Maude states in a somewhat biased article why he didn’t oppose Cllr Vickers’ housing plan.
Mr Maude uses loaded words in his article calling the council meeting ‘prolonged’ and that the debate at Horsham seems to have been: ‘exhaustive (probably exhausting as well)’.
Well, I was at the meeting and it was far from that. In fact, after just three speakers in support of the motion to defer the plan to create a five- year land supply of housing pending a decision on Gatwick airport and a second runway and, after a refreshment break, Cllr Brian Donnelly (Pulborough) supported by Kate Rowbottom (Billingshurst) attempted to move a guillotine motion to stop the debate by demanding an immediate vote on the amendment.
That procedural piece of trickery was only stopped by a point of order made by Cllr Christian Mitchell who argued a constitutional point before the chairman of the council.
Mr Maude then writes that: ‘I understand that the voting was not whipped…’ Really? Who told Mr Maude that I wonder?
I suggest he asks Cabinet member Andrew Baldwin that question since he abstained in the vote of where to build houses for the next 20 years in Horsham. Cllr Baldwin no doubt abstained to maintain cabinet collective responsibility.
Mr Maude then writes that there is ‘nothing improper in our system in a whipped vote’. Well there is at HDC where a three-line whip was used to de-select Cllr Christian Mitchell as chairman of the council. And Mr Mitchell’s crime? Supporting his local residents.
I didn’t see Mr Maude at the council meeting so someone must have told him a totally different account of the meeting from the one that I sat through.
He needs to get a new adviser(s) or failing that he needs to get himself out and about a bit more with the people since the tone of his article is totally at odds with the public’s reaction to how HDC has pushed through controversial and unpopular housing plans.
Owlscastle Close, Horsham