LETTER: Will councillors have a free vote?

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Currently there are eight Horsham district councillors representing the electors in Holbrook East, Holbrook West, Roffey North and Roffey South. Their terms in office come to an end in May 2015.

From what the majority of them have said in the press, we might assume that they will not vote yes to the plans of Cllrs Dawe, Vickers, Croft and Rae to locate 2,500 (plus) houses and a 500,000 sq ft commercial/business park on green fields north of the A264. However if they abstain I understand that their vote will be counted as ‘not opposed’.

Following the full council’s meeting on December 11 ( reported fully in your pages December 19) it is very unlikely that councillors will have a free vote.

Using the ‘whipping system’, councillors will be expected to vote along party lines. If this happens, the majority Tory group with 33 out of 44 councillors will be told to vote in favour of the Cllr Dawe, Vickers, Croft, Rae plan.

The consequences of ignoring this instruction will have implications for some councillors. It will take courage to stand up and be counted. It will separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. It is important to note that a councillor has a legal duty not to vote for a policy which evidence seen by councillors supports a view that the policy is not sound.

In North Horsham, cllrs Rae and Croft have been steadfast in their support for this scheme despite the clear contrary wishes of large numbers of their electorate during the consultation.

One told his electors in effect at a public meeting that if they didn’t like the plan to build 2,500-plus houses and a 500,000 sq ft industrial park on green fields north of the A264, they should come up with an alternative. Many felt truly offended by this remark believing it to be his responsibility to do this and defend the interests and concerns of his voters.

If the Cllr Dawe, Vickers, Croft and Rae plan is sound and fair to all residents throughout the district, would councillors have to be whipped?

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham