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Independents Strengthen Their Influence in Ash as Two ex-Tory Councillors Fail to Gain Co-option

Published on: 24 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 28 Jun, 2023

By David Reading

Three new members have been co-opted as Independents on to Ash Parish Council – further diminishing the influence of the Conservatives, who had dominated the council for years.

After the 2019 elections all members of the parish council were Conservatives but their election had been uncontested.

Among the recent applications for the three vacancies left after this year’s election, again uncontested, was Paul Spooner, until recently a leading Conservative member of Guildford Borough Council, but his application was turned down in the selection vote by the full parish council.

An application by another former GBC Conservative councillor, Graham Eyre, was also turned down.

After the meeting, Mr Spooner tweeted: “I stood for co-option at Ash PC last night. Six candidates for three places and I was not successful. Reasons given included inexperience and they didn’t want previous Cllrs to return. Graham Eyre also unsuccessful. I wish the successful candidates well.”

Three people responded to his post, questioning the decision not to co-opt him, two of them mentioning his obvious wealth of council experience.

However, his tweeted reasons for his lack of success in being co-opted raised questions because the councillors’ discussions about all six candidates was carried out in private session.

When the vote was then announced in the public part of the parish council meeting, no reasons were given for the decision not to appoint Cllr Spooner or the other unsuccessful candidates.

And Cllr Carla Morson, who chaired the meeting in the absence of parish council chair Fiona White, told The Dragon she had not been contacted about the reasons for the council’s decision.

Mr Spooner was asked by The Dragon how he drew his conclusions about the reason he wasn’t co-opted, but so far has not replied.

In recent years, Ash Parish Council has been dominated by the Conservatives under the strong chairmanship of Cllr Nigel Manning, but that has now changed. Following the May elections and the latest co-options, the current makeup of the council is nine Independents and three Conservatives, including Cllr Manning.

Absent from Monday’s meeting were Cllr Manning and another leading Conservative, his partner Cllr Marsha Moseley. The couple are on holiday. Both were recently unsuccessful in their bids to be re-elected as borough councillors for Ash Vale.

The third unsuccessful candidate at the parish council selection was local resident Gerard Curley.

The three who have taken their place on the council are:

Cllr Sara Badger

Sara Badger, a resident of Ash Vale, who is soon to move to Ash with her wife. Previously working as a finance manager at the University of Surrey, Cllr Badger is now shifting her career focus to become a library assistant.

She has worked as an accountant for over 30 years in the energy and defence sectors, as well as local government in England and Australia.

Her volunteer work centres on her church, where she leads initiatives such as Eco Church and Open Table.

Cllr Mohammad Faisal

Mohammad Anamul Kabir Faisal, who has lived in Ash Vale and Guildford for more than 13 years. He came to UK in 2009 for study purposes.

Upon successful completion of his undergraduate and postgraduate degree in international business, he started to run his own restaurant in Guildford.

He has been working in the hospitality industry for over 12 years.

Cllr Michael Moriarty

Michael Moriarty, a resident of Ash with a background in entertainment and sport, most often working in an industry known as esports (competitive video games).

He is a writer by trade, mostly in digital marketing.

He is a recent addition to the area, having moved earlier this year to be closer to his family.

Cllr Morson said after the meeting: “We were extremely fortunate to have six candidates apply to be co-opted to the three vacancies.”

Asked to describe the co-option process in the light of Mr Spooner’s post on Twitter, Cllr Morson said: “The process was explained to all candidates and members of the public who attended the meeting. All candidates were invited to deliver a presentation, following which the councillors in attendance questioned the applicants.

“Then there was a short private session for the councillors to consider the applications and it was explained that they were free to vote as they wished. Voting took place in public session and the ballot papers were counted by the deputy clerk. Once the result was known the parish clerk read the names of the successful candidates and asked them to sign the oath of office and take their seats for the rest of the meeting.

“No reasons were given for those who unfortunately were not successful on this occasion, and I have not been contacted about these.”

The three successful candidates were asked by the Dragon for brief statements on the tasks ahead. All mentioned the need to enhance community spirit.

Cllr Sara Badger said: “I am excited to become more involved in the local community and collaborate with other councillors and residents. I recognise the challenges posed by new construction in Ash and the impact on essential services, but I am equally committed to extending a warm welcome to newcomers.”

 Cllr Mohammad Faisal said: “The population of our parish is growing rapidly. I will work hard to ensure adequate community support is in place to tackle issues like the cost of living crisis, anti-social behaviour and making sure our streets are well looked after. I would also like to advocate the opening of a new GP surgery, pharmacy and more open spaces to support our growing community.”

Cllr Michael Moriarty said: “My main aim is to help foster community growth, predominantly with our young people. I also see a need to reach out to people in the new developments and make sure they can become strong members of the Ash community.

“Cost of living issues are also urgent. If businesses stop operating or families can’t go out because they can only afford the bare minimum, then any goals of a community spirit go out the window. I want to push all stakeholders to come together and keep our community strong.”

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Responses to Independents Strengthen Their Influence in Ash as Two ex-Tory Councillors Fail to Gain Co-option

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 25, 2023 at 5:52 am

    Perhaps Mr Spooner will finally get the message that he is not wanted in public life. And Nigel Manning should follow him out.

    They need to understand the public anger at their ruinous Local Plan, and that they will never be forgiven.

  2. Sylvia Flanagan Reply

    June 25, 2023 at 1:16 pm

    Will the new councillors Sara Badger, Mohammad Faisal and Michael Moriarty be looking into why the land on Hammersley Drive, Ash is up for sale?

    Maybe they, along with borough councillors Sue Wyeth-Price and David Shaw can get an answer for the residents who hoped a community building was going to be built there.

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