Horsham council leader speak of ‘hard choices’

THE NEWLY-elected leader of Horsham District Council has said he plans to build a business-savvy council with a ‘positive, optimistic and entrepreneurial agenda’ and that reviewing options for Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre (BBHLC) was one of his priorities.

At last week’s full council meeting, Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry) was officially elected leader of the council, following the sudden resignation last December of Robert Nye, who cited problems with his business as his reason for standing down.

Mr Dawe, in his first speech as leader, laid out his vision for the district.

He said: “I’m conscious of the great responsibilities that this job entails and I will work hard to represent the interests of all our residents.

“I’m unashamedly ambitious for our district. I want Horsham district - with Horsham town at its heart - to continue to be known as an excellent place to live and work, with a quality of life that is among the best in the country.”

He takes over as leader at a time when the council’s plans for BBHLC are under scrutiny from the public.

Mr Dawe said: “One of our early priorities will be to ensure we complete a fundamental review of the options for Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre and to identify solutions, which work for the whole community and command wide public confidence.

“Under my leadership our decision-making will at all times be open, evidence-based and inclusive.”

He said he shared the former leader’s vision for the district.

“My predecessor Robert Nye had a dynamic vision for Horsham district: an enterprising approach to balancing the budget while continuing to provide our citizens with first-class services.

“I share his vision. I want to build a positive, optimistic and entrepreneurial agenda that balances the savings we certainly have to make with business-savvy and politically sensitive creativity to generate additional resources and income,” he said.

“I’m under no illusions about the financial challenges that lie ahead. There will be hard choices to make and difficult decisions to take.

“We will also need to ensure that we extract maximum value for every pound that the council spends. This makes it all the more important that we discharge our duties with the greatest care and humanity.

“I want to ensure that our customers’ experience of dealing with their council is a positive one and the environment for our hard-working staff is rewarding.”