Tories deny rumours over election of new scrutiny chairman

JPCT 130312 Park North, Hosham District Council office. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 130312 Park North, Hosham District Council office. Photo by Derek Martin

Conservative members of Horsham District Council were challenged last week about possible ‘behind the scenes’ discussions regarding the election of a new chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee.

The committee must be led by someone who is not a member of the ruling party and the post was held by David Sheldon (LDem, Denne) for five years until July when George Cockman (Ind, Steyning) replaced him. Mr Cockman was the first person to hold the post when the cabinet system was introduced in 2000.

But on Wednesday at the full council meeting, Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest) said he hoped rumours were not true.

He said: “I would like to voice my concerns about behind the scenes discussion that might have devalued the position. It does this no credit if it’s true. It’s just as well Cllr Cockman is highly regarded by this council.”

In response Philip Circus (Con, Chanctonbury) said: “I am not quite sure of the point you are making. I voted for David Sheldon which should not be taken as any adverse comment on George Cockman who is an excellent chairman.

“There were other Conservative members who voted for David and in a democratic vote George was elected. I am really lost as to what these insinuations are about of things going on behind the scenes. As a member of that committee, I made up my own mind of who to vote for.”

The role of Overview and Scrutiny is to look at topical issues in detail and report to council and cabinet on them.