In his letter of November 28, Dr Richardson raised important questions on the lack of transparency in Horsham District Council, where the cabinet system excludes many councillors from early involvement in key decisions.
The cabinet system may speed up decision-making, but what matters is surely the quality (not the speed) of decision-making. Indeed, cabinet decisions may still be called into question by many ruling group members, which itself results in delay.
Also in HDC, the deputy leader must be one of eight serving cabinet members who has previously been selected by the leader, whilst the balance of over 20 ruling group members cannot be considered, regardless of their knowledge and depth of experience.
The good news is that (under ‘Localism’) councils are now allowed to return to the committees and sub-committees that used to deliberate on council policy, prior to 2000, and that option needs to receive serious consideration and debate.
The committee system is not dissimilar to that in Parliament, where select committee members often display more diverse knowledge than cabinet ministers, with their relatively high turnover.
Not only would that be more democratic and transparent, it would utilise the diversity and depth of councillors’ experience and would expand the group memory.
That may make it more difficult for some to rush through decisions that have not been properly evaluated or debated but if anything, it is likely to result in better value of service to over 130,000 people in the district.
The message from residents should be that our democratic system is not for the convenience of a few councillors and it is time to debate the committee option to counter the general degradation in democracy that we have seen in recent times.
So councillors, please debate the options openly, to facilitate an early return to better government for the people by the people.
You have been elected to represent them and it is not for the leader, or cabinet members, to deny you this debate and this option.
Vice-chairman, UKIP Horsham Branch, Crawley Road, Horsham