LETTER: Valuable resource is going to waste

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We continue to see concerns at the demise of local democracy, not least because of the secretive Cabinet System.

In HDC, only eight of 44 councillors have a primary Cabinet role in policy formulation. The other 36 have a wealth of experience but have limited influence on policy formulation. What a waste of valuable resources.

It is even worse that the party whip could be used to drive through a decision, which non-Cabinet members may find to be flawed and with no debate in public.

So one might ask, how would policy be progressed without a whip? Well as Cabinet Member for Finance and Deputy Leader, I worked hard in 2012 to establish a three-year Financial Strategy for HDC. While many sensitive issues had to be balanced, I did not once consider using the whip to drive the strategy through.

Instead, I set out to convince members of the rationale and would not have been particularly concerned if one or two of them had spoken against the policy in open council meetings. Why would anyone fear that, for a policy that was well grounded?

Indeed the demise of the Cabinet system and the whip, would only concern those who may not have done their homework, who might want to hide something, or do not want to stand up and be counted.

They might also fear the County Times Free Speech Charter, even preferring to exclude the public from meetings on strategy. Let the message go out to them that the system of local government is not for their convenience and that we want democracy back.

The option to return to the committee system came with promises of ‘Localism’. Since local councillors have not been able to deliver against that promise, at least they could improve transparency, through a return to the committee system. Why won’t they do that?

We want transparent government for the people by those elected to represent them, utilising the full depth of councillors’ experience. What we have at the moment is not fit for purpose and it needs to be changed. If the ruling group won’t change it, then no doubt residents will change them.


Horsham district councillor for Chanctonbury and UKIP parliamentary candidate for Horsham, North Street, Horsham