Horsham District Council leader to stand down

After a decade as leader of Horsham District Council Ray Dawe is set to step aside.
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Ahead of next week’s annual meeting the Conservatives have chosen Paul Clarke as their new group leader.

Given the party has a large majority, Mr Clarke is likely to succeed Mr Dawe as HDC leader on Wednesday.

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He is currently the cabinet member responsible for finance & assets, local economy and parking and represents Pulborough, Coldwaltham and Amberley.

Ray Dawe and Paul ClarkeRay Dawe and Paul Clarke
Ray Dawe and Paul Clarke

In a statement to the County Times, Mr Dawe said: “I have been leader of Horsham District Council for over ten years and I have very much appreciated the opportunity members have given me to do the job over that time.

“Councils often have to take difficult decisions and I am proud of the way that this council has in that time been able to maintain all its services in the face of huge financial pressures, giving us one of the lowest levels of council tax in the country and also to see that Horsham often features as one of the most desirable places to live in the country.

“I thank my council colleagues and our staff for their support during my time as leader.

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“There will always be new challenges for any council but the last 18 months has been exceptional as we have all been touched by the Covid 19 situation and I am really appreciative of the way our council and our staff have provided help to our residents, given support to our businesses, while at the same time continuing to run and operate the day to day services we all need.

“Some members knew that I had spoken about standing down once the new local housing plan was in place.

“However, trying to accommodate the Government’s requirements for a huge number of extra houses while trying to safeguard the best interests of our district and our residents is a hugely difficult task for all council members and I feel that the way forward on the local plan should be under a new leader.

“I have therefore decided to stand down now at the beginning of the new council year.

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“I am very pleased that our Conservative group has elected Paul Clarke to be our new leader.

“Paul has worked alongside me in the cabinet with responsibility for finance and economic development and has a clear understanding of the huge pressure the council is under both as regards finances and from the Government’s housing requirements on our district. I wish him every success in doing this very demanding job.”

Mr Dawe will still continue to represent Storrington and Washington.