COMMENT: Responsibility for ‘Housing’ makes cabinet role the ‘Siberia of local Government’

Horsham District Councillor Claire Vickers - picture submitted by HDC
Horsham District Councillor Claire Vickers - picture submitted by HDC

The sudden resignation of Ian Howard from his cabinet post at Horsham District Council because of ill health will come as a great shock.

He has been a key member of the district council team and we wish him a full recovery following the ‘recent dramatic downturn’ in his personal health, to quote his letter of resignation.

At the same time we welcome Claire Vickers to the cabinet.

She has a wealth of experience both as a councillor and a former chairman of the authority.

She is widely respected on all sides of the council chamber and is a great ambassador for the whole district.

Her supporters have tipped her as a potential leader or deputy leader in the past.

Southwater residents greatly worried by the threat of more housing in the village will also take heart from her appointment.

Mrs Vickers has vigorously defended the community, which she is elected to represent, in the past from the shadow of widescale development and the hope will be that she will be ideally placed in her new role to continue to do so.

But the challenges she faces should not be underestimated, as she shapes development in the district for the next 20 years.

The portfolio for Living and Working Communities may sound harmless enough but many consider it a poisoned chalice - the Siberia of local government.

Trying to protect the green fields around Horsham when national Government seems obsessed with a policy of Build, Build, Build will prove particularly testing.

We wish her well in the new role. It is much deserved and long-overdue - even if sad that it should be the consequence of the ill-health suffered by Mr Howard.

A full interview with Mrs Vickers about the challenges ahead will appear in next Thursday’s County Times.