LETTER: Keep standing up for free speech

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I read your excellent coverage of the Christian Mitchell affair with absolute horror.

If I’m honest, until last week I had not even heard of Cllr Mitchell but already I find that I like him very much. We need more councillors who are prepared to stand up for the people they represent, councillors who will put public service and local needs ahead of party political allegiance.

Cllr Mitchell’s party political colleagues have clearly looked the other way in his hour of need. They could have defied the whip but their party political allegiance was more important for them than standing up for justice.

Cllr Mitchell should consider sitting as an independent – I did it some years ago and have never had cause to regret it.

County Times readers may be interested to know that we have similar issues in the Arun district. Arun District Council has been under the control of the Conservative Party since its first election in 1973. That’s more than 40 years!

Like Horsham, Arun’s Conservative Group is also dominated by Groupthink and has become arrogant, complacent and out of touch with the public it claims to represent.

Last week, there was a very bitter debate at Arun over the appointment of the next vice-chairman (chairman-elect). The ruling Conservatives proposed Cllr Andy Cooper of Angmering who has not even completed 12 months as a district councillor.

The Lib Dems proposed Cllr James Walsh, a hugely respected councillor at county and district level with something like 30 years of experience. It was, of course, a case of anything will do, as long as it’s Conservative.

By selecting a relative novice as vice-chairman (chairman- elect) the Conservative Group revealed a lack of respect for the position of chairman and, alarmingly for them, that they have a shortage of suitable candidates.

Finally, can I offer my congratulations to the editorial team at County Times – it is the best of the county’s newspapers by a country mile and the readers’ letters are always very interesting too. Keep standing up for free speech!

TONY DIXON

Barons Close, Westergate, Chichester