Five Conservative candidates for the upcoming district council elections signed up to the County Times’ Free Speech Charter last week.
The Charter was launched in March last year to promote openness and transparency in politics after Tory Christian Mitchell was effectively sacked as chairman-elect of Horsham District Council by his own party.
The Horsham Conservative Association (HCA), which covers the northern part of the Horsham district, picked its candidates for May’s election on Saturday February 14.
Among them was Toni Bradnum, a Conservative Party agent since 1992 working with several prominent MPs in Sussex, who will stand for the ward of Nuthurst.
She said: “I have served on two local authorities in the past, which I found to be a fascinating and rewarding experience, giving the opportunity to speak up for local residents and make a difference.
“Now retired from full time employment, I have the time and energy to undertake whatever challenges lie ahead.
I’m standing because I believe in Horsham and want to ensure that the people of Horsham have their voices heardJonathan Dancer, Conservative candidate for Roffey North
“I think the Free Speech Charter is a great initiative and a timely reminder to everyone of how lucky we are in this country to enjoy true democracy. Anyone elected as a representative of the public at any level, has a clear duty to speak up on their behalf without fear or favour.
“If I am elected to the district council in May, it is my intention to do my very best to be a true spokesperson for local residents.”
North Horsham parish councillor Karen Burgess will stand for the Tories alongside cabinet member and fellow charter signatory Andrew Baldwin in Holbrook East. The other incumbent Jim Rae resigned from the Conservatives after being deselected by the HCA earlier this month.
Mrs Burgess said she was ‘delighted’ to be selected as a candidate and had signed up to the Charter as she believed councillors were there to represent the people rather than be subject to party discipline.
Jonathan Dancer and Alan Britten will be the Conservatives two candidates in Roffey North. Current councillors are Lib Dem David Skipp and Tory deputy leader Helena Croft, who was not selected as a candidate for May’s elections.
Mr Dancer is a managing director of a Horsham company and lead residents’ opposition to the North Horsham proposals for 2,500 homes in the examination hearings in November, while Mr Britten is a retired police officer, past chairman of North Horsham Parish Council, and has given his time for a number of causes in the town, including the Horsham Community Car Scheme, the Horsham Charity Card Shop, and the Horsham Red Cross.
Mr Britten said he wanted to stand as it would be an extension of the voluntary work he had done for the last 20 years and had signed the Charter as it was a ‘reflection of my integrity’.
Mr Dancer added: “I’m standing because I believe in Horsham and want to ensure that the people of Horsham have their voices heard. I think the Charter is a pledge to the people of Roffey North I will always put them first.”
Lastly local businessman Tony Hogben will be one of two Conservative candidates for Denne. He said: “I believe in openness and transparency in government which is why I’m signing the Free Speech Charter. I will always put the people that I represent first.
“I am against the proposed North Horsham development. Breaching the A264 and building in the strategic gap is not - and never was - the right way forward.”