LETTER: Chairman that majority respect

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What a palaver! Seven pages of the West Sussex County Times - yes seven pages - to detail how wonderful Christian Mitchell is as a district councillor - and I truly believe that a large percentage of this is perfectly correct.

However, the basic fact is that 12 months ago Christian had the virtual 100 per cent support of the Conservative members in his quest to become the next chairman of council.

Unfortunately, at a regular monthly group meeting held last week to, amongst other things, decide on the next chairman (and certainly NOT a secret court as described in WSCT) this support had dwindled to a very small number when another candidate put himself forward - and so we took a vote.

Surely democracy, that very much flaunted word in last week’s WSCT, means that we should elect a chairman that the majority respect and are happy to see representing the council as their chairman? This is what we did!

The argument suggested in last week’s paper that Christian lost the vote purely because of his opposition to housing is just not true.

As councillors we often fight against planning applications on our patches, with varying degrees of success, and certainly not quite so much publicity, but realism also has to prevail.

Christian claims to be defending the public interest but the fact is that if we stopped the housing strategy tomorrow, as he advocates, there would be many planning applications - including at North Horsham - which we couldn’t resist on appeal, arriving within a short time.


(Con) Horsham district councillor for Billingshurst and Shipley, North Street, Horsham

Editor’s note: Neither Christian Mitchell nor the County Times described the Tory group’s private selection of a new chairman-elect as a secret ‘court’.

The phrase ‘court’, according to Mr Mitchell’s own article, was a disciplinary process he was subjected to by his group in the autumn following his robust campaign against the North Horsham housing plan on behalf of his residents.

The group’s decision to vote for a new chairman followed an email from leader Ray Dawe last September relating to the North Horsham consultation in which he concluded: “I am not willing to support any nomination for you as council chairman next year. I will over the weekend be deciding on an email that I will be sending to the HDC Conservative Group about this matter.”

Ms Rowbottom says support for Mr Mitchell dwindled from virtually 100 per cent a year ago to a very small number. What changed in that time if it was not the intervention of her leader or Mr Mitchell’s robust defence of his residents’ views?