BREAKING NEWS: Horsham deputy leader ‘clearly disappointed’ by being axed as candidate

Helena Croft
Helena Croft

The deputy leader of Horsham District Council Helena Croft today (Tuesday) said she was ‘clearly disappointed’ not to have been selected to continue serving the people of Roffey North after the forthcoming May elections.

On Saturday, the Horsham Conservative Association dramatically ditched her as a Tory candidate in a vote - with only six out of three dozen members backing her. Fellow Tory councillor Jim Rae was also deselected.

But today she pledged to complete her term of office over the next two months, fulfilling her responsibilitiesto the very best of her abilities.

In a statement issued by the district council’s press office on her behalf, she said:

“In May 2011, three weeks before the elections for the district council, I was asked if I would stand as the Conservative candidate in Roffey North. As a lifelong Conservative and as a serving community leader in the voluntary sector for the previous 20 years, I was delighted to accept the challenge to support the party which was struggling to find candidates.

“Over the past four years I have worked extremely hard on all political levels, in what has proved to be a very difficult and challenging political environment. Some tough choices have had to be made due to difficult government planning legislations, which has required bigger and braver thinking to protect the long term future of Horsham town. I have remained steadfast and resolute in looking for solutions at all times. I am a great believer in being part of the solution by rolling your sleeves up and getting involved. I am clearly disappointed therefore not to have been selected by my local Conservative Association to continue working in my ward, in particular on behalf of the many wonderful people of Roffey North that I represent and have come to know personally. I do intend however to complete my term of office as their representative, fulfilling my responsibilities to them to the very best of my abilities.

“I am enormously proud to have been able to achieve many successes on behalf of my residents, such as ensuring the Guinness Trust development at the heart of Roffey was finally built, after being a derelict eyesore for years. Being instrumental in ensuring that the planned WSCC resurfacing of Lambs Farm Road was brought forward, protecting residents from being blighted by another winter on a perilous road full of severe potholes. I’ve worked closely with residents of Ringley Road and Naldrett Close for many months, ensuring the very tightest conditions are in place to minimise the impact on their lives during construction of the development on Searles Yard, which posed a potential serious health risk due to contaminated land. I’ve also helped secure a solution to a serious flooding issue affecting residents in Amberley Road, ensuring funding for a new storm drain and trench in the adjoining school was secured.

“My role as the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Horsham Town has been particularly rewarding. Balancing the challenges of so many groups and organisations that care deeply about the success and wellbeing of Horsham, such as the Horsham Town Community Partnership, Horsham Unlimited Business Group, and many more. Leading projects such as the West Street Enhancement, promoting the Horsham High Street and helping protect its vitality; signing of the Community Covenant in supporting our armed forces and veterans, and pioneering the inauguration of an annual Chairman’s Cadet to grow civic links with cadet forces. I’ve helped with important equalities provision for the Town with a Changing Places facility and pioneering model of care with Hop, Skip & Jump Charity in the Town Centre, providing respite care for disabled families. I also helped implement the Designated Public Place Order for Horsham town - which gives stronger powers to the police to deal with anti-social behaviour, along with working closely with the Parish and Neighbourhood forums to help provide an effective Youth team in Horsham Town.

“If ever there was an important time for our young people to engage in shaping their communities, I would suggest it is now and after working with a remarkable young Politics student for 18 months, there is now an active and growing political forum at the College of Richard Collyer Sixth Form.

“It has not just been hard work, but an immense privilege and honour to work with some amazing people at Horsham District Council, many of whom do not receive any praise or credit for the dedicated way in which they professionally carry out their responsibilities. This is true of so many of my colleagues across all political parties and in particular the staff at the council who often go over and above their duties to ensure our residents’ needs are fully met.

“For those of us who pick up the challenge of public service without duplicity, seeking to serve our communities under the microscope of an ever increasing media quest for information, this is no easy task. I’ve learnt much and no doubt still have much to learn but working for and alongside such eminent examples of public servants as Francis Maude MP, Cllr Ray Dawe, my Cabinet colleagues and Conservative friends, has been an especially memorable journey which I have no doubt will continue in new and equally rewarding ways.”