LETTER: It is the culture that is wrong

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Has Cllr Circus had a revelation on the road to Damascus? He now advocates a return to the Committee System for Horsham District Council (‘Cabinet System to be examined’, 5.6.14).

It’s a shame he didn’t propose and action this in the 12 months that he was Chairman of the Council. He stood down ten days before making these remarks on 2 June 2014.

So why now? Perhaps as he leaves his position and that wonderful gold chain he wears behind, he wants to persuade us all that he is a true reformer at heart – making the grand statement to mollify voters who are truly fed up and angry with the machinations that have taken place at HDC under his Chairmanship.

Cllr Circus is not well known for his support of a more inclusive decision-making process – notably calling the police on Dr Geoffrey Richardson who requested that Cllr Vickers answer his legitimate question about a ‘free vote’ at a meeting in December 2013.

And of course Cllr Circus wrote that appalling letter printed in this paper in March 2014 ‘lashing out’ at Mr Grace.

According to your report, Cllr Circus thinks the present cabinet have done a good job. ‘None of this is meant to say I have any doubts about the present cabinet. I think they perform their roles with great distinction’. Perhaps he doesn’t read the West Sussex County Times?

The frustrations of ‘backbenchers’ that feel the cabinet system deprives them of a true effective role has been public knowledge for a long time.

But no matter what structure is adopted, if the culture under his successor Cllr O’Connell continues to foster secrecy, authoritarianism and whipping, there is no way we should expect greater inclusiveness of the 44 councillors in decision-making.

It is the culture that is wrong. Could it be that Cllr Circus choosing to speak out now demonstrates that he is worried about his seat next May and wishes to impress voters with his newly discovered democratic credentials? Has he signed up to your paper’s ‘Free Speech’ Charter? I fear Cllr Circus may have left it too late to repent.

ELIZABETH BARTNOVSKAYA

Heath Way, Horsham