Fringe Box



Cranleigh Conservatives Troubled Over ‘Underhand’ Selection of Election Candidate

Published on: 2 May, 2017
Updated on: 2 May, 2017

Cranleigh Conservatives remain troubled and divided following an acrimonious selection process of their county council candidate.

Alan Young

The deselection of Cllr Alan Young, who has served as the county councillor for Cranleigh and Ewhurst since May 2011, has proved unpopular with many Conservative party members of their Cranleigh and Ewhurst branches.

Young, who beat Guildford councillor Matt Furniss to the role of Guildford Conservative Association (GCA) chairman in March 2013 and who oversaw the deselection of Monika Juneja as a borough council candidate in 2014, when she was subject of a police investigated that culminated in her conviction for pretending to be a barrister, forgery and deception, is believed to have fallen out of favour with the local party hierarchy. He was forced out of the GCA chairmanship in the summer 2014 following a motion of no confidence.

But few expected the nomination of his replacement as a county council candidate to be the former leader of Surrey County Council (SCC), Dr Andrew Povey.

Andrew Povey

Povey resigned as SCC leader in 2011 after a fall out with his deputy, at the time, David Hodge, the current leader who succeeded him. Following his resignation Povey controversially tweeted: “Surrey County Council new cabinet; Still 6 men, 4 women. One known gay. No Ph D’s.”

But the deselected Cllr Young, does not enjoy universal support in the Cranleigh and Ewhurst division. It is widely believed that he engaged in numerous meetings with developers relating to unpopular new developments. Planning permission has been granted for over 1,500 homes around Cranleigh, many of which are now under construction.

Nonetheless, there have been numerous complaints from party members over the way the deselection of Young and the selection of Povey was handled.

There are claims that the local branch members were effectively excluded from the candidate selection process and that a hearing of Young’s appeal against his deselection, organised by the Guildford Conservative Association, was held at their offices in Loseley Park, on a day on which it was known Alan Young would be unable to attend.

Some angry members of the local branches, particularly among Mr Young’s supporters in Ewhurst, say they were disgusted by the decision not to select their chosen candidate and some have resigned. The Guildford Dragon has also seen correspondence claiming that many local Conservatives will abstain in protest in the council election on Thursday (May 4).

Despite an alternative bid by the local branch to put forward, as a completely new contender, Phillip Townsend, described as a local man recommended by the influential Cranleigh Civic Society, the GCA proceeded with their Povey selection.

Andrew Povey says in his election literature he is “opposing over-development in Cranleigh & Ewhurst” and is particularly concerned about traffic congestion in both villages. He is also understood to be an opponent of any development at Dunsfold airfield.

And Guildford’s MP Anne Milton, whose constituency includes Cranleigh, is endorsing him. In a election pamphlet she says: “He would be a fantastic champion for us on the county council.”

Bob Hughes, recently elected chairman of the GCA, was asked by The Dragon: Why was Alan Young deselected, why was the deselection ​appeal hearing not held at a time that would have allowed his attendance, why were the local association branches excluded from the candidate selection process and did he believe the SCC council leader David Hodges will be pleased to accept Andrew Povey into the Conservative group at Kingston​, given the history of Povey’s resignation in 2011?

Hughes responded: “Most of your questions ask me to comment about what other people think. That is not something I can know. Specifically you ask why our Executive Council voted as it did? That is a matter for each individual member of the Executive and it would be inappropriate for me to ask each member either how they voted in secret ballots or what their motivation was.

“The selection process for Cranleigh and Ewhurst was conducted in accordance with the rules at every stage. The second stage of selection was conducted by the Executive Committee at the request of the Cranleigh branch at a meeting where both the Cranleigh and Ewhurst branches were represented. Neither branch objected to the process.

“In Andrew Povey we have an experienced candidate who enjoys the confidence of the Party and he will receive our full support.

But John Beckwith-Smith, deputy chairman (fund-raising) of the GCA and Cranleigh and vice chair of the Conservative’s Ewhurst branch, said: “I am unhappy with the selection of Andrew Povey as our Surrey County Council candidate. He has been deselected by GCA against the wishes of the local branch members.

“This process was carried out in a clandestine and underhand way by GCA and the process was in breach of numerous rules of the Conservative Party Constitution.

“Alan Young has been a very pro-active county councillor and has been very effective in representing his constituents at county level.  I and the vast majority of Cranleigh and Ewhurst local Conservative branch members wanted to see Alan Young stand and represent us again.

“GCA decided that Alan should not be allowed to stand again without giving any reasons why.  We have attempted numerous times to challenge this process.

“As we live in an area which is usually Conservative at all levels of government, selection of our candidates is the only semblance of democracy on offer to us.  It is extremely disappointing and frustrating to have this process ripped out of our hands by our party.

“Our recent experience with the Conservative Party and GCA would not be unusual in Russia or China but is very disturbing in “democratic” Britain.”

Candidates standing in the Cranleigh and Ewhurst division are:

Share This Post

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 *