Councillor who resigned over North Horsham saga no ‘nodding donkey’

Andrew Baldwin outside the Horsham District Council offices with the Free Speech Charter. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150218-092638001
Andrew Baldwin outside the Horsham District Council offices with the Free Speech Charter. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150218-092638001

‘I HAVE never been a nodding donkey’.

Those were the words of former cabinet member Andrew Baldwin this morning after he dramatically resigned his position last night over his support of the North Horsham motion.

Mr Baldwin was told by leader Ray Dawe he would be sacked if he broke party lines and voted in favour of allocating 2,500 homes in the local plan from North Horsham to Southwater and Kingsfold.

In a statement to the County Times this morning, he said: “The prospect of 2,500 homes being built north of the A264 bypass has caused a lot of unhappiness and concern in the local community and some friction amongst councillors.

“At the end of the day my top priority is, and always has been, to represent the people in my ward to the best of my ability. During the recent election campaign I promised the electorate in Holbrook East that I would not vote for development in north Horsham and that is why I supported the Notice of Motion. I have never been a nodding donkey and have always stood up for what I believe in.”

The motion, debated at Horsham District Council’s full council meeting at Parkside last night, was rocked by Mr Baldwin’s public statement.

He said he was not prepared to give Mr Dawe the ‘satisfaction’ of sacking him.

The announcement came shortly after a member of the public had asked Mr Dawe if the cabinet had been whipped over their vote on the motion.

He replied: “Cabinet members are expected to support existing policy of the council. If they don’t they will have to deal with the consequences.”

There were gasps and shouts of ‘disgusting’ from the public gallery when Mr Baldwin resigned.

He has since received emails of support since the County Times exclusively broke the story.

He added: “I am a genuine person with principles. Having to adhere to collective cabinet responsibility in local government is ridiculous. Councillors should always be free to vote how they see fit, reflecting the views of the people they represent, with no recriminations.

“I therefore, reluctantly, decided to resign from Cabinet. I will remain a hard working and conscientious District Councillor.”

Mr Dawe declined to comment on the resignation at this stage.

But he was pleased the motion was defeated.

He said: “I was pleased it went that way because the alternative I think would have been extremely difficult for the district.

“If it had got through it would have created enormous problems and we would have ended up with things like North Horsham anyway.”

The motion was defeated by 24 votes to 19. Here is a full list of councillors who voted for and against:

For the motion: John Bailey, Andrew Baldwin, Toni Bradnum, Alan Britten, Karen Burgess, Peter Burgess, Christine Costin, Leonard Crosbie, Jonathan Dancer, Tony Hogben, David Jenkins, Liz Kitchen, Christian Mitchell, Josh Murphy, Godfrey Newman, Connor Relleen, David Skipp, Simon Torn, Tricia Youtan

Against the motion: John Blackall, Jonathan Chowen, Philip Circus, Paul Clarke, Roger Clarke, David Coldwell, Roy Cornell, Ray Dawe, Brian Donnelly, Matthew French, Ian Howard, Nigel Jupp, Adrian Lee, Gordon Lindsay, Tim Lloyd, Paul Marshall, Mike Morgan, Brian O’Connell, Stuart Ritchie, Kate Rowbottom, Jim Sanson, Ben Staines, Claire Vickers, Michael Willett

Abstentions: none

Absent: John Chidlow

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