The West Sussex County Times has launched a campaign for free speech and no secrets at Horsham District Council. I fully support this.
The meetings of the council have been growing more and more unpleasant. Many members feel that they are excluded from any genuine decision making process; they know that when worried councillors try to question the hierarchy and their policies there is no willingness to listen.
They can easily find themselves unceremoniously ‘cut-short’, taunted and generally bullied.
Many members sitting in the chamber are being controlled by political threats, so owing to the make-up of the council those not stifled in this way have little chance of winning any vote.
The paper today contains clear evidence of high-handedness, cavalier attitudes, public despair and lack of choice.
In spite of an unprecedented wave of genuine concern this administration seems to believe that it has a right to plough-on with unpopular policies. The future of Horsham town and Horsham district must not be fashioned by questionable standards.
When I joined the council 19 years ago it was because I loved the town I lived and worked in. To be honest I just wanted to help where I could. I was astonished by talk of party ‘whips’ and found it uncomfortable and wrong.
To me the only whip I would accept has a walnut on top. My group has always known that if I felt strongly against a party view it would not be enough for me to abstain, I would vote for what I believed to be in the best interests of the people who elected me.
Thankfully that has not happened too often because my group does believe in free thinking. At local level there should be no place for political games.
The madness of Westminster might also benefit from throwing away its ‘whips’ and letting everyone take an objective look at issues without being constrained by party discipline.
Perhaps not quite so easy when trying to formulate national policies. But at a local level - politics is often counter productive.
Listening to everyone’s point of view and taking time to select the best possible outcome for local circumstances go hand in hand.
(LDem) Horsham district councillor for Trafalgar ward, North Street, Horsham