LETTER: Action needed to rebuild democracy

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I was interested to read Tony Bevis’ letter in last week’s County Times, regarding the way that the Cabinet system reduces transparency and excludes many elected councillors from early involvement in key decisions.

It is of course the quality (not the speed) of decision-making that is important. Cabinet decisions can be called into question by ruling group members, but as seen with the lack of public debate on the HDPF, the party whip can be used to drive through half-baked decisions, made in Cabinet.

It also seems that HDC’s deputy leader must be a serving cabinet member who was selected by the leader, whilst none of the many other ruling group members can be considered, regardless of their knowledge and ability.

That of course leaves the leader free to avoid bringing someone into cabinet and into the position of deputy leader, who might have more expertise than the leader and may ask difficult questions, rather than simply obey orders.

Not only would the committee system be more democratic and transparent, it would utilise the diversity and depth of councillors’ experience, whilst expanding the group memory and making it more difficult for some to rush through decisions that have not been properly evaluated or debated.

Local democracy is not for the convenience of a few councillors and it is time to pursue the committee option to counter the general degradation in democracy and transparency that we have seen in recent times.

Anyone who has extrapolated the latest election results will know that UKIP is on target to take a number of seats on HDC next May, when we will fight for the Localism that the Coalition Government has reneged on, whilst seeking a return to the more transparent committee system, without a party whip.

In due course, we also hope to reduce the number of councillors from the current level of 44 and we should stand a better chance of delivering that than the present ruling group.

We believe that there are too many politicians, at all levels, and we intend to deal with that.

NEIL WHITEAR

Chairman, UKIP Horsham Branch, Crawley Road, Horsham