19th of September 2023
Ashtead Independent Councillors are concerned over a move by some of the Ashtead Residents’ Association (ARA) to change its constitution.
The problem say Councillors Hawksworth, Hunt, and Wiltshire is that the move treats Ashtead Independent councillors as though they are a political party, but this is in direct contradiction to the Independent’s own constitution which says under rule 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.
Councillors Cooper, Stansfield, and County Councillor Townsend said, “the Independent Councillors and the ARA have worked closely together for many years, and tinkering with the constitution is not only unnecessary but, in our view, wrong and counterproductive”.
This view seems to have been backed by other concerned residents, one of whom, Mr Quentin Armitage has written a lengthy technical paper highlighting the contradictions in the approach. In his paper Mr Armitage said,
"The suggested amendments from the ARA - which seek political neutrality - are likely to achieve the opposite to what is intended, so allowing the Association to become politically active, and favouring certain candidates and political parties over others. I am concerned that residents may accept the proposed changes without understanding that they would allow the ARA to move from a direction of political independence to one of political activism", he said.
Mr. Armitage’s paper can be seen by clicking this link