Worthing Borough Council appeared to give a statement of intent three years or so ago, when Alex Harman was chosen to be the youngest mayor in the town’s history.
The move turned out to be a masterstroke as Alex, ably assisted by his good lady, did a superb job throughout his year in office.
His appointment was initially met with a degree of scepticism from certain quarters: “How can someone that young have the mayoral chain round his neck?”
But he well and truly answered any detractors and as the town approaches the third decade of the 21st century it’s clear the younger generation is an integral part of the development of Worthing.
Also in the news, there was heartbreak after a ‘magical fairy tree’ in North Lancing was stripped bare, a visitor was told she had ‘wrong kind of wheelchair’ for Worthing taxis and it was the end of an era as Highdown Tea Rooms closed its doors for the last time.
Therefore, I was a little surprised this week to hear that the ruling Conservative group had deselected another of its younger councillors, Joshua High, from standing in the local elections next May.
Joshua has represented the voters of Heene since 2015, his attendance record is reported to be extremely good and his pedigree cannot be doubted.
A source within the Conservative group told me Joshua has been actively involved with the local party’s election machine for many years, on account of his father Paul, at first unsuccessfully standing in a number of wards, before winning and retaining Heene ward.
It’s been estimated that Joshua, right back from his childhood, has delivered almost 500,000 Conservative election leaflets to households in Worthing, so I don’t think anyone could question his commitment to the party.
So what has happened? A clash of personalities? Or could it be inverted ageism? Does one of the local Tory grandees think that youth is not the way forward? I don’t know.
Whatever the scenario, I also understand that senior Conservatives within the party have urged Joshua to reapply to the selection committee.
I firmly believe people of the ilk of Joshua High certainly have a huge role in moving this town forward. I hope there has either been a misunderstanding or if a situation has arisen it can be rectified.
In the same way I hope Diane Guest finds her way back on to the council next May, I think it’s imperative for the ongoing progress Worthing is making under Tory rule that this situation is reversed in time for the next local elections.
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