Further to our previous posting on this issue on 19 September 2023 (see here), the results of the Ballot were announced at the ARA’s Adjourned AGM on 25 October.
The ballot asked a question and also had a motion. The Question was “The ARA Committee believes that the ARA should be non-partisan, working on behalf of all residents for Ashtead. It should have no affiliation with any registered political party, and should not support or endorse any candidates for local Mole Valley District or Surrey County Council elections. It should engage with any elected Ashtead Councillor”. And the Motion was to add to the requirements for members of the Standing Committee “ . . . none of whom shall be members of any national or local political party”.
There were just 560 ballot forms received from the estimated membership of around 5,000. The Question was carried with 405 Yes and 152 No votes, while the Motion was defeated with 200 yes and 353 no votes.
Your Independent Councillors were disappointed by this result as they are anxious to be able to work synergistically with the ARA and do not wish to see barriers to that being put in place. It has been a long tradition of the ARA that the members of its Standing Committee do not belong to any political party and the motion aimed to include that in the Constitution. Without this requirement, there is a possibility of the Standing Committee consisting of political party members, and the prospect of it even being dominated by members of one party! We will, however, await the actual proposals to modify the ARA Constitution are put to their next AGM in April 2024 before commenting further on this issue.
By Councillor David Hawksworth