WHY ASHTEAD VOTES ‘INDEPENDENT’
(and should do so again on THURSDAY 5TH MAY 2022)
“…Ashtead Independents have more influence on MVDC decisions than you might suppose.”
There is a very good reason why you should vote for the Ashtead Independent candidate – including at the forthcoming elections on Thursday 5th May.
It is because the Ashtead Independents have more influence on MVDC decisions than you might suppose. And that means they can bat above their weight.
“…Ashtead Independents Group have more influence on MVDC decisions than you might suppose.”
It all comes down to working together as a Group while remaining completely independent when it comes to voting on council matters. And because the Independents are a designated group within the Council they always have positions as members of key decision making committees. That puts the Independents in a powerful position particularly given MVDC is politically split between Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, with the Ashtead Independents holding the balance of power.
So being divorced from national politics means that the Independent group benefits from being just that – Independent!
The Independent Group has identified a number of reasons why Ashtead benefits from voting Independent. And here are some of them:
In the Council, representation on Committees and Working Groups is organized by the proportion of seats held by each of the three political groups: Conservative, Liberal Democrat – and Informal Independent. The Informal Independent Group is almost always made up only by Ashtead Independents (on rare occasions with another who has resigned from one of the two other groups). This means that Ashtead Independents will have a guaranteed fixed number of seats, and so votes, allocated only to them on crucial committees and working groups, including development control, planning policy, scrutiny, audit, licensing, and standards. If the Ashtead Councillors were from national parties, the seats would be allocated from amongst members throughout Mole Valley regardless of their wards; there would then be no certainty that any Ashtead Councillor would be on key decision-making committees.
“If Ashtead Councillors were from national parties…there would be no certainty any Ashtead member would be on key decision-making Committees”.
Making their voice heard
The Council procedures require that if Council Member wishes to speak at a Committee, they have to notify the Chairman in advance of the meeting; it is then a matter for that Chairman’s decision. The Leader of each of the three groups in the Council does, however, have the right to speak with no prior notice at Committee, Working Group, and even Cabinet meetings. This provides an opportunity for Ashtead concerns on an issue to be raised before key decisions are taken; no other group of Councillors from particular parts of the District are in this position.
A key feature of the Ashtead Independent Councillors is that they are free to votes as they see fit – with no whip obliging them to vote in a particular way. We discuss pressing issues at our regular monthly meetings but are all free as to how cast our votes. In the case of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups, members are informed at pre-Council meetings as of how they should vote. This means that although Councillors in one of these two groups oppose an upcoming decision, and may have stated that informally, they nevertheless vote as whipped (and against their better judgement). When Ashtead Councillors vote in opposite ways, this may amuse those in the other two groups, but we see it as a strength of being Independent.
The top table seats
The position of Chairman of the Council changes every year, rotating between the three groups. This means that every third year the Chairman will be an Ashtead Independent, with the power not only to introduce novel ideas (such as the Chairman’s Certificates by Cllr Hunt this year), but to decide who may speak at main Council meetings, and to agree to the grounds for requests to call Extraordinary Council Meetings on key contentious issues (as proposed by Ashtead Independents several times in the last two years).
Balance of power
The Council, throughout it history, has been in a situation where there has been only a small or no overall majority by one of the three political groups. Currently, the Liberal Democrats have a majority of just two. The Ashtead Independents, now with seven seats, can find themselves holding the balance of power. On several occasions they have been involved in, or even leading, the Administration. Indeed, an Ashtead Independent was leader of the Council in between 2014 and 2017, and in 2018-19 Ashtead Independents occupied the key Cabinet posts for Planning Policy, the Environment, and Health and Well-being as part of a Conservative-led joint administration. During that time Ashtead Independents were responsible for bringing forward plans for car park refurbishment, establishment of a new Joint Enforcement Team, measures to discourage unauthorized encampments, and a new Tree and Countryside post. A similar situation could arise at any future election while the numbers of the other two political groups remain close to what they now are.
“While completely separate, the constitution of the ARA does not allow them to support Councillors who belong to national political parties”.
Ashtead Residents Association
The tradition of Ashtead having Independent Councillors goes back to the establishment of the Ashtead Residents’ Association in 1945. While completely separate, the constitution of the ARA does not allow them to support Councillors who belong to national political parties. At one time an ARA committee was, however, involved in selecting Independent candidates, and currently 2-3 Councillors participate in sections of the monthly ARA Standing Committee meetings where matters of mutual concern can be aired and updates provided on current development proposals and other issues.
No party of any national political persuasion has ever represented Ashtead so well for so long. With all seven
Ashtead seats now occupied by Ashtead Independents, we are uniquely placed to press for your concerns
to be addressed and the future nature and facilities of Ashtead to be improved and secured.
If you wish to download the election leaflets please click on the PDF icon or view them at this link
Election Manifesto 2022
Election Manifesto 2022
Election Manifesto 2022