I read Cllr Ray Dawe’s statement in his email (WSCT 03/04/14) on the Free Speech Charter with disbelief – and that wasn’t just from reading his slippery and evasive use of words through the string of correspondence between himself and political editor Joshua Powling, which you reproduced.
He says: ‘41 councillors on the District Council [HDC] were elected as either Liberal Democrats or Conservatives. When standing on a party ticket they all agree to abide by their party’s rules which are strikingly similar.’ So far so good. So, why is it that the Lib Dems and UKIP have signed the Free Speech Charter along with nearly a third of the Conservatives at HDC but not Ray Dawe, his deputy of absolute loyalty Helena Croft, Claire Vickers, Jim Rae, Kate Rowbottom, John Chidlow, Brian O’Connell, Philip Circus and Roy Cornell – all whose names have been in print through letters or reporting of council meetings in this paper of the sickening affair of the gagging and bullying of Christian Mitchell and any other councillor who has the audacity to speak out on matters of concern to their residents?
Cllr Dawe kids himself by going on to say: ‘This is no coincidence since they will have been arrived at based on decades of history of the best way of getting things done in local government.’ Wrong again! The rot set in with the Cabinet system and has deteriorated fast since he and Helena Croft took hold of the tiller at HDC after Cllr Nye and before him Cllr Kitchen stopped being leader of HDC.
This is manifested in local examples of Cllr Dawe’s Cabinet’s gross incompetency over North Horsham, the breach of promise to the indoor Bowls Club and the risible ‘improvements’ of West Street by Cllr Croft. The list goes on.
And Cllr Dawe is also very wrong when he says: ‘So councillors are there to represent their constituents but also to represent a political party, one that voters have chosen to support when they voted and elected council candidates.’
That is fundamentally incorrect too. Yes – at European elections the electorate votes for the party on the list system but at local government elections it is a fact that the public votes for the individual and not the party. That is why when his previous Deputy, Roger Arthur, left Cllr Dawe’s sinking ship to join Ukip, there wasn’t a by-election – again, the individual is elected, not the party.
Cllr Dawe concludes by stating a truism: ‘Ultimately the judgment of any member will be by their electorate.’ Indeed, and we want Ray Dawe and his cronies Claire Vickers, Helena Croft, and Jim Rae out at the next election. We need a new broom at HDC to sweep away their way of doing things – Thursday, 6 May 2015 cannot come soon enough.