It is only right and proper that I be given a chance as a local town councillor to respond to the extraordinary coverage by the County Times of March 6 making reference to the subject of selection of the chairman of Horsham District Council.
It is within the constitution of Horsham District Council and many other district councils across England, that the majority party is tasked with selecting a chairman and vice-chairman of their choice.
The process is carried out in accordance with Conservative Party rules, nominations are proposed and seconded by the group and a democratic vote is taken and adjudicated by a person from outside of the council.
We followed the correct process and were allowed to make our choice. At no time was I as an individual instructed to vote in favour of a named nominee.
One only has to look at the chairman’s Role of Honour in the chamber to see that this process of selection has followed the same pattern since the formation of Horsham District Council.
We recently selected Cllr Leonard Crosbie, a long serving Liberal Democrat, to serve as chairman. His selection was very popular within the Conservative group, as it was a clear recognition of how he had served Horsham District Council with honour for many years.
As councillors we debate and discuss many topics and vote according to our individual conscience. I have always been allowed to vote for or against and have abstained on occasions.
Finally, the Editor in Chief’s choice to relinquish his position as a trustee of the Chairman’s Trust is unnecessary and bad judgement.
High on the agenda of the County Times should be more pressing and important issues nearer to home, and those that affect the daily lives of our residents.
ROY S. CORNELL
(Con) Horsham district councillor for Roffey South, North Street, Horsham
Editor’s note: In my view there is no more important issue than freedom of expression. It was not the County Times which said that Tory councillors had been instructed how to vote at the full council meeting; it was Mr Cornell’s Conservative colleague Peter Burgess who told the meeting they were subject to a ‘three line whip’.