Many UKIP candidates for May’s Horsham District Council elections have signed up to the County Times’ Free Speech Charter.
The Charter was launched in March last year to promote openness and transparency in local Government after Conservative Christian Mitchell was effectively sacked as Horsham District Council’s chairman-elect by his own party.
Roger Arthur, a former Tory deputy leader at Horsham District Council who defected to UKIP in early 2013 and is now standing in Roffey South as well as being his party’s parliamentary candidate for Horsham, and Graham Harper who is standing in Nuthurst, signed the Charter last year.
They were joined on Saturday as Charter signatories by candidates for HDC’s upcoming elections Chris Brown (Holbrook East and UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Crawley), Chris Heath (Southwater), Ray Toots (Denne), Patrick Dearsley (Billingshurst and Shipley), Uri Baran (Broadbridge Heath), Tony Rickett (Roffey South), and Ian Tandy (Horsham Park).
Neil Whitear (Southwater), the chairman of UKIP’s Horsham branch, signed the Charter on Monday night.
Mr Whitear said: “Too many decisions are made behind closed doors and councillors are not able to have a say. One of my strong passions is I think we need to do away with the cabinet system and go back to committees.
“I’m a strong advocate of open debate but when decisions are taken behind closed doors by a select few then I think we are in danger of losing democracy.”
Dr Heath, a former GP at Riverside and Holbrook surgeries in Horsham, added: “I believe in democracy and if you look at Horsham now I can’t really see that the people’s wishes are represented by the local parties. I think the town is being destroyed and I want to contribute towards stopping that.”
The Charter states: “I undertake to speak, write and vote on behalf of my constituents without fear or favour of party discipline.
“If I am a member of a political party, I will respect its values and honour its pre-election manifesto pledges - but I will always put first the people I am elected to serve.”