LETTER: Questions over council probity

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The WSCT 6th March issue contained unbelievable contradictions which raise serious questions of probity in HDC.

On page 12 the council leader, Ray Dawe, tried to deflect attention from the travails of his failing dictatorial leadership by posing a question containing completely unrelated choices ‘What is more important to you [residents], knowing that Horsham District Council has agreed to freeze your council tax for next year or hearing how the next chairman of the council was chosen?’

I have my own version: ‘What is more important to residents, knowing that Horsham District Council can approve an expenditure of some £700,000 on West Street enhancements with no cost justification whatsoever, or democracy, integrity, truthfulness and even handedness?’

Cllr Dawe stated the ousting of the chairman-elect, Cllr Christian Mitchell, in favour of a new candidate, Cllr Brian O’Connolly, arose from ‘the majority’s wish and democratic vote’, and Cllr Circus stated it ‘followed a democratic ballot’.

In the same edition Councillors Mitchell, Kitchen, Burgess, Baldwin and Haigh (amongst other councillors not mentioned who have spoken out) and the WSCT Editor in Chief (Gary Shipton) and Head of News (Mark Dunford) all express consistent views.

It is obvious, is it not, that Cllr Dawe’s use of a three-line-whip was both undemocratic and would ensure the free wishes of the majority would never be known.

Cllr Dawe belittles the role of chairman of the council as ‘purely an honorary position’. One has only to look at Part 5 of the council’s constitution (www.horsham.gov.uk/council/1110.aspx) to know that is not true.

Amongst other things the chairman is supposed to preside over meetings of the council with regard to the interests of the community; to promote public involvement in the council’s activities; and to be the conscience of the council. Unfortunately the performance of present chairman, Cllr Philip Circus, is all too often, and disgracefully, to the contrary.

In his editorial, Gary Shipton referred to the council meeting on 12th December 2013 when Cllr Circus threatened to call the police when a member of the public dared protest that Cllr Claire Vickers had not answered his question.

However, that was just one example. Other members of the public raised questions which Cllr Vickers failed to answer. Cllr Circus simply ignored appeals by the questioners.

After his widely declaimed response you might expect Cllr Circus would do his duty at the next council meeting on 22nd January 2014. Not a bit of it.

Not for lawyer and erstwhile upholder of truth, integrity and high morals expounded in his numerous ‘views and opinions’ published in the WSCT before he became chairman.

Cllr Circus commenced the public question session with ‘… you may not necessarily like the answer you get but if you have had an answer it is not justifiable to demand another answer in the hope of getting one which is more to your liking’.

Indisputably fair and correct. However, he ignored the real issue. If a response to a question does not include an answer (in the generally accepted sense) then the response is not an answer.

Questions to Cllr Helena Croft led to more contemptuous failures to provide answers, and Cllr Circus continued to ignore appeals by the questioners. Readers can ask HDC for copies of the recordings of the meetings and hear the disgraceful proceedings for themselves.

No wonder Cllr Dawe, the leader of the council, would not want a chairman like Cllr Christian Mitchell - who has a history of acting in the interests of the community and doing so with honesty and integrity.

Far too much truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth for the likes of Dawe, Croft, Vickers and Circus.

C. MORRIS

Tennyson Close, Horsham