New Horsham council leader Claire Vickers says road ahead is 'challenging yet exciting'

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The new leader of Horsham District Council has given her first speech to a meeting of the full council.

Claire Vickers is the council’s fourth leader in two years, taking over from Jonathan Chowen after he resigned following a behind-closed-doors decision to pause the Local Plan.

During the meeting last week, Mrs Vickers spoke about finance, the environment, housing and enabling communities to identify issues in their area and come up with solutions.

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Regarding the latter, she said: “We need to look at how we can empower our residents to problem solve to enable them to become resilient and able to make a real difference for themselves, their neighbours and their environment.

Horsham District Council leader Claire VickersHorsham District Council leader Claire Vickers
Horsham District Council leader Claire Vickers

“Parish and neighbourhood councils are key players in this process.”

Mrs Vickers also appealed for councillors of all political persuasions to work together for the good of the community.

She said: “I want to acknowledge that we do have our political differences on this council but I recognise that we are all here to look after the best interests of our residents and when there is an opportunity for us to work together to achieve this we should grasp it.

“As leader I am not afraid to do that.”

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A couple of changes were made to the cabinet following Mr Chowen’s resignation.

The ‘top table’ is now made up of:

  • Paul Clarke (finance)
  • Liz Kitchen (planning & development)
  • Tony Hogben (Horsham town)
  • Josh Potts (environment & rural affairs)
  • Tricia Youtan (housing & communities)
  • Philip Circus (recycling & waste)
  • Richard Landeryou (economic development)
  • Roger Noel (leisure & culture)

Describing her new role as ‘a great honour’, Mrs Vickers said the road ahead would be ‘challenging yet exciting’.

She said: “We are coming up to an election period and we will talk a lot more about our long-term vision in the coming weeks, and within that vision we will set out the details of what we will be doing in the next four years.”

She added: “My cabinet have the knowledge, experience and skills, together with the determination to work hard for our residents and deliver the priorities and agenda I have set out for the next four years.”