Deputy Leader of Horsham Council, Councillor Helena Croft (Roffey North) and Councillor Jim Rae (Holbrook East) have been deselected as Tory candidates for the forthcoming May elections.
The decision was taken at a meeting of The Horsham Conservative Association on Saturday, February 16, at which neither Councillor Croft, believed to be holidaying in France or Councillor Rae, immobile due to a recent knee operation, were present.
Councillor Rae, who was notified of the decision by text message, has since resigned from the Conservative Party and will stand as an Independent.
In a statement issued by Councillor Helena Croft, she said: “Over the past four years I have worked extremely hard on all political levels, in what has proved to be a very difficult and challenging political environment. Some tough choices have had to be made due to difficult government planning legislations, which has required bigger and braver thinking to protect the long term future of Horsham town. I have remained steadfast and resolute in looking for solutions at all times. I am a great believer in being part of the solution by rolling your sleeves up and getting involved. I am clearly disappointed therefore not to have been selected by my local Conservative Association to continue working in my ward, in particular on behalf of the many wonderful people of Roffey North that I represent and have come to know personally. I do intend however to complete my term of office as their representative, fulfilling my responsibilities to them to the very best of my abilities.”
Councillor Rae announced the decision of The Horsham Conservative Association and that of his resignation from the Conservative Party on social media last weekend.
Councillor Rae told The District Post on Monday that a proposition has been put to him by a consortium of Horsham District businessmen and women to stand in May’s General Election as an Independent under the banner of bringing back honesty and integrity to politics at the highest level, having given the matter due consideration Mr Rae has advised the group that he will be joining the contest for the parliamentary seat of Horsham and is looking forward to the challenge.
Councillor Rae also stated that as he has resigned the Conservative whip he will now serve the residents of Roffey division on West Sussex County Council as an Independent.
A spokesman for Horsham Conservative Association said: Mr Rae and Mrs Croft made various complaints to the National Party Board of the Conservative Party about process and procedure regarding local government candidate selection. These were fully investigated and none of their complaints were upheld.
Following the Board’s decision and rejection of the complaints, the Horsham Conservative Association’s Executive Council met to select candidates on February 14. Following a ballot of the members present, Mr Rae and Mrs Croft were not adopted as local government candidates by a wide margin.
The Conservative Party runs a free, open and democratic selection process for candidates at all levels and two outstanding candidates have been selected to contest the Holbrook East ward at the upcoming local council elections.