Fringe Box



Council Denies Advising Alderman Against Proposing GGG Candidate

Published on: 14 Apr, 2015
Updated on: 18 Apr, 2015
Bernard Parke

Hon Alderman Bernard Parke.

One of Guildford’s aldermen, Bernard Parke, is accusing the borough council of double standards, following advice he says he was given that nominating a council candidate would be deemed a political act and could lead to him losing his honorary alderman status.

The council officer involved denies that he gave this advice, but Mr Parke remains adamant that he did.

“I spoke to a council officer in legal and democratic services, who I know well, on the phone. He told me that if I acted as an assentor* for a candidate, in the forthcoming local election, it would be deemed a political act which could mean that I could no longer be allowed to continue as an honorary alderman.”

“I reluctantly accepted his advice and told the candidate concerned, Karen Stevens, of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG), what had happened.

“Then, when the full list of candidates was issued by the council, I was amazed and angry to see that another alderman, Linda Strudwick, had seconded the three Lib Dem candidates in Onslow ward.

“I don’t know what is going on but I think I am owed an explanation.”

“The policy of barring alderman from participating, in any way, in local politics is wrong. Petty, small minded councillors, who cannot tolerate views contrary to theirs being espoused by experienced former councillors, are behind this. It is not acceptable in a democratic society.”

“I have nothing to gain personally from speaking out. But I still care about Guildford and I will give my views as I see fit. Who do these people think they are to deny me that right?”

The council officer who took the enquiry from Bernard Parke said that he did not recall speaking with him specifically about whether it would be proper for him to be an assentor for a candidate.

“I thought we had only spoken (and written) about his position as honorary alderman in the event that he decided to stand for election.

“I think the question as to whether it is deemed a ‘political act’ for an alderman to be an assentor is not a matter for me to comment on or advise.  The council deems the role of honorary alderman to be non-political.

“The protocol on the appointment, role, status, rights and obligations of honorary freemen and honorary aldermen approved by council last year provides that if an honorary alderman wishes to stand for election, he/she relinquishes the title.

“It also sets out a procedure for councillors to bring a motion to council to seek the withdrawal of the title of honorary alderman if they believe that an honorary alderman’s conduct warrants such action.

“That conduct may include the honorary alderman engaging in political acts but it would be up to the council to determine whether such conduct [i.e. assenting] was incompatible with being an honorary alderman.”

The council does not check to see if any of those making nominations are GBC honorary aldermen, it would be for the councillors to decide if nominating candidates should be deemed a “political act”, under their protocol.

No complaint is believed to have been made regarding alderman Linda Strudwick’s assenting candidates.

*An assentor is someone who signs the nomination form for a candidate.

Share This Post

Responses to Council Denies Advising Alderman Against Proposing GGG Candidate

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    We have the right to know which officer gave this advice. If it were someone in authority over the elections, such as a returning officer, this would be very grave indeed.

    It should be noted that it is denied that this advice was given. Ed

    • Anna-Marie Davis Reply

      April 15, 2015 at 11:41 am

      We should be told which officer denies giving the advice and a complaint should be made to the LGA and audit commission. Perhaps other complaints about this officer are in existence and would give credence to Hon Alderman Parke?

      Hon Alderman Parke has made it known to The Guildford Dragon NEWS that he does not wish to make a complaint. Ed.

  2. Frank Phillipson Reply

    April 15, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Do GBC even have the legal right to determine what an Alderman can and cannot do? Is it only the council that confers the title and can take it away if it so wishes?

    If so, is the current Conservative council going beyond, what in other council areas, is deemed as perfectly acceptable?

    It appears that the Conservative Council leadership seems to be dictating not only what it’s own councillors can say and do but also those former experienced and trusted councillors of all parties. Perhaps it shows a desperation to remain in control at all costs?

  3. Paul Spooner Reply

    April 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    To be absolutely clear, the alleged issue involving Alderman Parke (apparently denied) has absolutely nothing to do with the Conservative council leadership.

    Trying to link this issue to some form of political party direction is grossly overstating the level of influence and direction that any party can manage on the administration within Democratic Services.

    I would add that last night’s full council meeting demonstrated that there is no ‘dictating’ to councillors past or present. Debate was in free flow.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *