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Letter: Party diktats must be resisted

3rd August 2021

Letter published by West Sussex County Times, 29 July 2021

Dear Sir,

Party diktats must be resisted

Thanks to the WSCT (22 July: Tories who rebel against plan could face de-selection), we now know that Horsham’s Regulation 19 planning document was agreed by a narrow majority of 15 to 13 at a private group meeting of Conservative councillors held mid-June. And that the councillors have been warned that anyone who chose to ignore the group majority vote would be harming any future political career and could face de-selection.

This seems to suggest that the outcome of the Cabinet meeting held on 15th July, to consider and release the plan to the full council for approval, was intended to be predetermined and approved with minimal scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Horsham MP Jeremy Quin has helpfully advised that ‘it is not only wholly reasonable but right that any plan put up for approval is subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny by councillors’; that ‘every councillor is answerable, ultimately, to the constituents who elect them’, and that every councillor in whatever party political group they sit (or none) needs to decide how to vote and should be respected for the decision they take’ (WSCT, 22 July).

The plan and its policies, and the unprecedented and open-ended housing target and disregard for neighbourhood plans are of huge consequence for the future of Horsham District, its communities and environment. 

Most rigorous scrutiny and informed decision-taking by each councillor at the full council meeting on 28 July is therefore essential and expected. After all every councillor is answerable, ultimately to the constituents who elect them. 

Coercive party diktat must be resisted.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith