LETTER: County leader has signed Charter

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Why hasn’t the Horsham Conservative Association (HCA) dumped Cllr Kate Rowbottom (Billingshurst and Shipley) as a council candidate yet?

Cllr Rowbottom has publicly declared her wilful refusal to sign the Free Speech Charter and denies that a whip has been used in the Conservative group

(12.3.15, p36).

Cllr Rowbottom clearly hasn’t read the Nolan principles which concludes that holders of public office should promote Nolan principles ‘by leadership, and

by example’, and should act in a way that secures public confidence.

The Free Speech Charter – which she so publicly denigrates - simply 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.’

Why does Cllr Rowbottom find those words so offensive – yet the leader of West Sussex County Council, Louise Goldsmith, does not?

Cllr Rowbottom in her letter is a ‘denier’ of whipping in the Horsham Conservative Group. Yet minutes repeatedly printed and referred to over the past 12 months in this newspaper show that the Conservative group met on Monday, 22 July 2013 to thrash out how they would deal with North Horsham at the council meeting on 25 July 2013.

Cllr Jim Rae, the then secretary to the group, wrote, ‘Members are advised that voting against a group majority decision is not an option - unless they accept that group disciplinary proceedings will immediately follow.’

And so Cllr Rowbottom cannot deny that a whip is used to threaten party members in the Conservative group to ensure that they vote according to the

official local party policy.

I trust that Cllr Rowbottom will now cease writing letters to this paper that are at odds with the facts that are already in the public domain.

GWEN TAYLOR

Havengate, Horsham