COMMENT: No surprise in by-election result

No-one should be surprised that Liz Kitchen retained the Warnham and Rusper county council seat for the Conservative’s in Thursday’s by-election

Horsham District Councillor Liz Kitchen - picture submitted
Horsham District Councillor Liz Kitchen - picture submitted

This is, after all, regarded as a safe Tory seat.

Her predecessor Mick Hodgson - who sadly died in August - had represented the ward for many years with distinction and was highly regarded by the community.

And Mrs Kitchen is a well-known local politician - having been a former leader of Horsham District Council and a current chairman of its planning north committee.

But the scale of her success - she took more than half the vote - reflects something else too. Mrs Kitchen is a fighter. She fights very hard on behalf of the people she represents.

In North Horsham a huge consultation on 2,500 more homes and a business park has just concluded.

It has proved enormously contentious.

There are no easy answers for the district council in seeking a location for this government-inflicted construction agenda and we understand only too well why North Horsham has become pivotal to the planning process.

But that does not mean that local people’s concerns should not be represented as boldly and eloquently as possible to ensure that the consultation is genuine and potent.

In discharging that responsibility, Mrs Kitchen, like some of her fellow neighbouring district councillors, has acted with courage, integrity, and single-minded purpose.

Local people know that - and it’s an important reason they gave her their votes.

We congratulate her on her hard fought success.

UKIP continued to perform strongly. Once again they took second place.

The traditional local party of opposition, the Lib Dems, trailed in fourth place behind the Greens. If they are to improve their performance both at a district and a county level they need to find a voice, articulate another point of view that has resonance with the electorate, and demonstrate that they are not a political irrelevancy.

Meanwhile, the very low turnout - four out of five voters didn’t bother with the ballot - suggests a continuing disillusionment with all parties.

The challenge for councillors and potential ones is to show that they can make a difference to the people that they represent; and that their parties are not genteel private members’ clubs with a well-heeled set of rules but dynamic groups of people outspoken and principled who are determined to do the very best for the people they seek to serve.

Fortune favours the brave - and not the bureaucrat.