Ashtead Independents Constitution and Rules
We work for the good of Ashtead - and we are committed to engaging only in local issues, and to taking national party politics out of Local Government.
Membership is open only to persons who are not members of any national political party.
The necessary Officers are elected and appointed at an AGM
We aim to reach decisions by consensus
Candidates for election are free to choose their own Election Agent, but the Ashtead Independents may commend a particular Election Agent to them.
There will be no fixed subscription rates, and contributions of Councillors, and suggested voluntary contributions from Ordinary Members, will be agreed at Ordinary and (or) AGM
1. The Ashtead Independents have simple principles – we recognise the history and current needs of Ashtead and seek to continue to work for Ashtead, for the village and its residents, and to promote and seek, with the assistance of an apolitical Ashtead Resident’s Association, the election of suitable Councillors at each Council election to ensure that Ashtead has a distinct voice and representation at all suitable Council levels.
2. In accordance with Electoral Commission regulations, the Ashtead Independents are apolitical, but are registered as a party in order to have a readily identifiable logo and description. This enables residents to know which candidates are authorised to stand as Ashtead Independents, and so work together for the good of Ashtead generally.
3. We work for the good of Ashtead - and we are committed to engaging only in local issues, and to taking national party politics out of Local Government.
4. All our Members, including elected Councillors, are free to assess matters and interpret policies as they see fit, and are totally independent. We encourage dialogue between Members and Councillors, and with residents generally.
5. We have no whip as we recognise that Members can reach their own genuinely held views on local issues. Reflecting such freedom of thought, each Ashtead Independent candidate for election can determine their own manifesto as they see fit for their Ward.
6. Membership is open only to persons who are not members of any national political party and shall comprise:
(a) Persons who are sitting Councillors representing Ashtead wards on Mole Valley District Council or the Ashtead Division of Surrey County Council (or equivalent seats in any successor authority).
(b) Ashtead residents who are not members of any national political party may be co-opted into ordinary membership, attend Ordinary and Annual General Meetings, and shall have full voting rights. All co-opted ordinary members shall retire at the Annual General Meeting, and are eligible again for co-option.
(c) Ashtead residents aged 16 years or more, who are not members of any national political party, may join as associate members have no voting rights and may attend Ordinary or Annual General Meetings only be invitation of the Committee.
(d) Ashtead residents who have given exceptional service to the Ashtead Independents may be recognized as Honorary Members by an unanimous vote by those present at an Annual General Meeting. Honorary Members cannot be sitting Councillors, but will be entitled to attend and receive minutes of Ordinary and Annual General Meetings but will have no voting rights.
7. Should any Member be in breach of this Constitution, and following consultation with Members, the Leader is authorised to expel, bar (temporarily or permanently), or otherwise censure that Member, depending on the nature of the breach.
III. Annual General Meetings
8. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) shall be held each year in May, as soon after local elections (if any) as possible, on giving Members at least 7 days’ notice (electronic or post). The current Leader will be responsible for sending out the notice of the AGM.
9. The necessary Officers are elected and appointed at an AGM. The Officers of the Party will not be authorised to interpret decisions or principles of the Ashtead Independents without the agreement of all members present.
10. The quorum for an AGM will be two-thirds of the number of Ordinary Members and Councillors.
11. The Officers of the Party to be elected are: Leader, Nominations Officer, Treasurer, and any other posts as required by new legislation. More than one post can be held by the same person.
12. Nominations for any of the Officers (including Leader) may be made by any Member, be seconded by at least one other Member, and be submitted to the then current Leader at least 24 hours before the start of the Annual General Meeting.
13. All Officers retire at the next Annual General Meeting, but their terms can be renewed without limit if that is the wish of the Annual General Meeting.
14. Any vacancies of Officers occurring between Annual General Meetings will be filled by the Leader by co-opting a replacement within 14 days of such a vacancy arising, and subject to confirmation by the Members at the next or an especially convened Ordinary Meeting.
15. Ordinary Meetings may be called at any time and for any purpose by the Leader, or by at least three Members, provided that 14 days’ notice is given to all Members.
16. Meetings will normally be held in person, but if required by Legislation or Government Decree, or should Members agree for any reason, the Meeting can be held virtually.
17. Except as provided elsewhere in this Constitution, all decisions shall be taken by a simple majority of those present.
V. Decision-making at Meetings
18. We aim to reach decisions by consensus, but if there are issues on which a vote is considered necessary, a decision shall be made by a simple majority of those present, except as provided for under para 28.
19. Should an issue merit confidentiality, a secret ballot of those present may be held if requested by at least two Members.
VI. Records Meetings
20. Notes of Meetings, including the Annual General Meeting, shall be taken and such notes shall record both attendance and decisions made. Such notes will be distributed (electronically or by post) to Members in advance of the next Ordinary or Annual General Meeting as appropriate for approval by a simple majority at that meeting, subject to any amendments proposed.
VII Duties of the Officers
21. The Leader organises and chairs Ordinary and Annual General Meetings; consults with Members and liaises with other group Leaders at the District Council (or replacement authority); may speak on behalf of the Ashtead Independents following consultation with Members (and should there be mixed views, then the Leader must reflect that diversity of opinion in any speech or statement); is authorised to ask any Member to speak on behalf of the Party(subject to the preceding requirement); may enter into agreements of up to one year’s duration (or longer with the express agreement as to the nature and length of such an agreement) with any supplier of goods or services if authorised by the Members and approved by the Treasurer; and is empowered to submit and sign forms and declarations on behalf of the Ashtead Independents provided that the subject and overall content of such forms and declarations has been agreed upon by a majority of the Members.
22. The Nominations Officer is authorized to endorse Ashtead Independent candidates standing for election or re-election, subject to prior agreement of the Members at an ordinary Meeting to be held prior to the date by which nominations are required to be made by the District or County Council as appropriate.
23. The Treasurer is responsible for ensuring that the Ashtead Independents Financial affairs comply with the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000 and any update. Accounts will be maintained in such form as will ensure compliance with government requirements. In addition, the Treasurer maintains and safeguards the financial records and signed minutes of the Ordinary and Annual General Meetings and advises as to appropriate levels of contributions to meet anticipated expenses.
24. Candidates for election are free to choose their own Election Agent, but the Ashtead Independents may commend a particular Election Agent to them. Election Agents may: help with election campaigns; scrutinize manifestoes, and publicity material; check and submit required election nomination and consent forms, or other documents required; verify and submit post-election expenses declarations; and liaise with Council Democratic Services as required.
25. Should the Leader be incapacitated or otherwise unavailable for any reason (or should the Leader request that some or all of their duties be passed to another Member for any reason), then the sitting Councillors will decide, by simply majority, who amongst them will act as Temporary Leader, having regard to the timescale needed and their own availability.
26. A bank account may be opened by the Treasurer and he shall be an authorised signatory to this account together with the Party Leader and one other Member as agreed. Cheques drawn on the account may have one signature and in the case of an internet account, the Treasurer as primary user, may make payments solely and be able to delegate access to other users
27. The Financial year of the party shall be to 31st December or as otherwise agreed and accounts will be prepared in accordance with the Financial Scheme.
28. There will be no fixed subscription rates, and contributions of Councillors, and suggested voluntary contributions from Ordinary Members, will be agreed at Ordinary and(or) Annual General Meetings.
29. Donations from Councillors, Ordinary Members, Associate Members, or any other sources will be recorded and made available on receipt of a bone fide enquiry to the Treasurer.
30. In the event of the Ashtead Independents being wound-up, a decision to be taken at a specially convened Ordinary Meeting by not less than 80% of those Members present, any balance of funds is to be passed to a charitable or other not-for-profit organization without ties to any national political party, where it can be used for the benefit of the people of Ashtead. Such organization to be agreed by Members at the Meeting where the Ashtead Independents are dissolved.
IX. Amendments to the Constitution and Rules
31. Notice of any proposed Amendment to these Constitution and Rules must be made at least 28 days prior to an Annual General Meeting or Ordinary Meeting. At such a meeting, amendments to the Constitution and/or Rules require an 80% majority of all Members voting
32. Members not able to be present at a meeting where there is such a proposal, shall be given the opportunity of registering a vote, in writing or electronically.
These Constitution and Rules were adopted at an Ordinary Meeting of the Party heldon 9th September 2022 and supersede all previous versions.