COMMENT: Ten councillors not restanding with all Horsham District Council seats up for grabs

Sussex Decides 2015 General Election SUS-150226-125523001
Sussex Decides 2015 General Election SUS-150226-125523001

All 44 seats at Horsham District Council will be up for grabs when voters head to the polls on Thursday May 7.

Currently the Conservatives have a large majority with 32, compared to seven for the Lib Dems, four independents and one UKIP councillor.

Cabinet members Sue Rogers (Con, Steyning) and Roger Paterson (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham) are not restanding, as are three independents Jim Rae (Holbrook East), Sheila Matthews (Henfield), and George Cockman (Steyning).

David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) is also standing down, as is Duncan England (Con, Nuthurst), Jim Goddard (Bramber, Upper Beeding and Woodmancote), Adam Breacher (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley), and Laurence Deakins (Con, Denne).

In Roffey North Conservative deputy leader at HDC Helena Croft was deselected as a candidate by the Horsham Conservative Party, but adopted as a candidate for Henfield by the Arundel and South Downs Association, while the other councillor in Roffey North Lib Dem David Skipp will stand in Horsham Park instead this year.

Roger Arthur (Chanctonbury), the former Tory deputy leader at HDC, who defected to UKIP in early 2013 will stand in Roffey South this year alongside standing as a parliamentary candidate in Horsham.

Mrs Rogers, HDC’s cabinet member for a safer and healthier district, said: “It has been an honour to represent the people of Steyning and Ashurst for the past four years.

“Being offered a job on the Cabinet was unexpected and gave me the opportunity to work with some very talented officers at the district council.

“So much of my portfolio depends on partnership working and helping shape the policies that I care about very passionately has been very important to me.”

Meanwhile Mr Paterson, HDC’s cabinet member for the local economy, added: “I count myself fortunate to have represented the Pulborough ward of Horsham district for the last 16 years. It has been a particular privilege to work on behalf of Pulborough residents to improve the social, environmental and economic well being of the village’s community, as well as more widely across the district.

“I have had the pleasure of working closely with the council’s talented and hard working officers in my capacity as cabinet member with responsibility for economic development. I am also grateful for the support of my fellow cabinet members and for their dedication and commitment to the best interests of local residents.

“During my tenure the council has made the success of the local economy its top priority, and the district has regularly been identified as a top performer in terms of jobs. business start ups, and a thriving retail sector. Our council’s highly regarded economic development team have also skillfully introduced a wide number of successful innovations such as the MicroBiz Fair, the Horsham District Food & Drink Festival, Piazza Italia, the renovation East Street, and Smart Park.”

Meanwhile David Coldwell (Con, Bramber, Upper Beeding and Woodmancote) has defended restanding despite no longer living or working in the district.

He quoted Electoral Commission guidelines, which say: “Your main or only place of work must have been in the 1.14 local authority area during the 12 months prior to your nomination and prior to polling day itself. You do not have to be in paid employment to qualify, as long as you satisfy the requirement of your main or only place of work being in the local authority area. Councillors whose main or only job is being a councillor would qualify under this heading, provided that their offices are within the local authority area.”

He added: “I have lived outside the district, not very far, a matter of a few miles, for two years and have not had any complaints from voters re my performance.

“The fact is that I attend the meetings of all three parish councils in my ward and rarely miss one; I will of course continue to meet with the parish councils and work as closely with them as I have done in the past.

“Additionally, I visit the parishes regularly, especially in connection with planning matters,and am always available at short notice to any voter who has an issue to discuss.”

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