UPDATE: Shock resignation of Tory cabinet member in charge of housing policy

Horsham District Councillor Ian Howard - picture submitted by HDC
Horsham District Councillor Ian Howard - picture submitted by HDC

Horsham District Council’s cabinet member for living and working communities, Ian Howard (Con, Southwater), has resigned from his cabinet post on the district council because of ill health.

In his notice of resignation, Mr Howard, said: “Following a recent dramatic downturn in my personal health I feel I have no option but to tender my resignation as cabinet member.

“I am very disappointed to have to do this at difficult time and hope that perhaps at some time in the future when my health improves you may find that I can be of assistance again.”

He will remain as a district councillor representing Southwater.

Leader of Horsham District Council Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry) thanked Ian for his valuable contribution as cabinet member for the last three years leading the council’s housing plans and development control areas and wished him a speedy return to good health.

Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), who also represents Southwater on Horsham District Council, has been offered and has accepted the cabinet position vacated by Ian Howard.

Mrs Vickers said: “I would like to add my best wishes to Ian for a speedy recovery. I am very pleased that Ray Dawe has offered me the opportunity to take on this challenging role and I am really looking forward to working with all councillors to help shape the future of our district for the next 20 years.”

HDC is currently deciding how many houses it should build over the next 20 years, but the preparation of its Local Development Framework has been plagued with delays.

Developers have lobbied for several strategic sites to be included, such as 2,750 homes west of Southwater, 4,500 houses North of Horsham, 1,750 dwellings east of Billingshurst, and a new 10,000-property market town east of Henfield.

But days after setting out a timetable for sending the draft LDF for public consultation in October 2012, HDC announced it would be delayed until 2013.

During the same month Mr Howard was hospitalised after suffering a heart attack, but was back in his portfolio role by the end of the year.

Mrs Vickers is the second recent addition to HDC’s cabinet as Gordon Lindsay (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley) replaced Roger Arthur (UKIP, Chanctonbury) after the latter defected from the Conservatives to the UK Independence Party.