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Letter: Are R4GV Candidates Really “Local”

Published on: 26 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 26 Apr, 2021

From: Michael Brown 

The R4GV ( Residents for Guildford and Villages ) candidate on my county council ballot paper gives only an “(address in Guildford)”. The other candidates give a specific address and postcode.

SCC Ballot Paper

Surprised and confused, I checked and found that every R4GV candidate in the county council elections gives only “(address in Guildford)” on the ballot paper. None give an address which would tell us where they live or are local.

Their leaflet asks us to “Vote for your local R4GV candidate XXX, standing up for local people like you”

However, they give residents no idea of whether their candidates are in fact local to stand up for local residents in the particular area where they seek our votes.

Therefore, we are left to guess whether the R4GV candidate is really “local”. They could live miles away somewhere else in the borough. The R4GV candidates for Guildford may live in Ash; their candidate for Worplesdon might live in Shere for all we know and so on.

I had thought of voting for R4GV but they have now lost my vote. I don’t know whether their candidate really is a local resident seeking to represent local residents or someone just brought in from outside my local area to collect votes.

Fiona Davidson

R4GV chair, Fiona Davidson, a candidate in the SCC election for Guildford SE, responded:

I can assure Mr Brown that all R4GV candidates are local to the area that they are standing to represent. We always strive to find a candidate who lives within the ward or division, but sometimes the very best candidate may live nearby.

For reasons of ensuring their safety, women candidates like myself, in particular, often prefer not to have their home address published on the voting ballot. This new right was implemented for council elections in January 2019 and follows the Committee for Standards in Public Life (CPSL)’s review of intimidation in public life.

The CPSL also reported that excellent candidates were often put off standing through fear of harassment, threatened abuse (including threatened sexual abuse), and damage to property. Sadly, the sometimes abhorrent level of political discourse on social media certainly encourages me to be cautious about my safety.

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test 8 Responses to Letter: Are R4GV Candidates Really “Local”

  1. George Potter Reply

    April 26, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    Fiona Davidson’s response cannot possibly be completely truthful.

    The R4GV candidate for Worplesdon, for instance, appears on the electoral roll at the same address as her husband, the GBC councillor John Redpath. She, therefore, does not live anywhere in the Worplesdon county council division.

    I personally don’t see anything wrong or objectionable about this (living outside of an area doesn’t mean you cannot represent it well provided you put the effort in), but it cannot be 100% truthful for Ms Davidson to claim that “all R4GV candidates are local to the area they wish to represent”.

    And Ms Davidson’s unwillingness to be accurate on this point, would seem to lend credence to the concern of Mr Brown that R4GV may be trying to present at least some of their candidates as something they are not.

    George Potter is the Lib Dem candidate for Guildford East

  2. Catherine Houston Reply

    April 26, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    This letter is a classic example of a man not understanding how brave a woman has to be to put her neck above the parapet to do anything in public life. Five of the six R4GV candidates in the county election and one of their two by-election candidates are women and sadly, in today’s world, they may wish to take extra precautions for their safety when standing for public office.

    One only has to look on Twitter and other social media sites to see the abuse that any woman in public life receives, simply for daring to be a woman with an opinion.

    As a woman, when I saw that all the R4GV candidates had kept their home addresses private, I immediately knew why. It didn’t need a letter into the Guildford Dragon to school myself. We need to encourage more women, more young people, more people from different backgrounds and ethnicities to stand for public office so that all voices and experiences are represented and if the ability to withhold your full address is one thing that encourages this then that is a good thing.

    If you want to know how local your candidate is then ask them. It isn’t difficult to track people down through local party websites.

    Catherine Houston is the chair of the Guildford Liberal Democrats

  3. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 27, 2021 at 9:15 am

    Those sound reasonable responses for not giving a full postal address, but what does “in Guildford” mean: Guildford Borough Council area, GU postcode (both covering quite a wide area) or just central postcodes GU1 and GU2? Perhaps R4GV candidates could disclose the first half of their postcodes.

    But my concern was making contact with my candidate by email to quiz her about buses under unitary authorities, an issue that divides different candidates (when most statements on political leaflets are things everyone would agree with, whatever party).

    By a roundabout means through a R4GV supporter I did achieve a useful email exchange with my actual candidate, but even emailing the generic address on their leaflet only got a response from the anonymous “R4GV Team”.

  4. George Potter Reply

    April 27, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    To add further to my above comment I wish to apologise to Ms Davidson for the tone of it.

    I do think it’s misleading to say that all R4GV candidates are local to the areas they wish to represent, but it was and is wrong to imply that R4GV candidates are withholding their addresses because they wish to avoid scrutiny, and I’m sorry that my comment made that implication as it was an unfair comment to make.

    As Catherine Houston points out, withholding one’s address for privacy reasons is completely legitimate and reasonable given how an unpleasant minority behave.

    I once had an angry man turn up outside a former address of mine, which he’d obtained from the list of nominations on the council website for a previous election, for what I can only presume was the purpose of trying to intimidate me, so I can testify that there are very good reasons why candidates may wish to keep their home addresses private.

    No one should assume the worst about candidates for doing so and, if one is in doubt, there is always the option of contacting a candidate to ask them whether they live locally or not.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem candidate for Guildford east in the forthcoming SCC election

  5. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 27, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    Nice to see George Potter eating humble pie, and good on him for doing so. Perhaps some reflection before tweeting is to be advised.

  6. Michael Brown Reply

    April 29, 2021 at 11:34 am

    Many thanks to various respondents for explaining electoral procedure and the need for privacy about addresses on the ballot paper

    However, I do feel that Ms Davidson may be somewhat misleading in her assurance “ that all R4GV candidates are local to the area that they are standing to represent” if the R4GV candidate for Worplesdon division lives at the same address in central Guildford as her husband, the GBC councillor John Redpath

    I believe it would assist our knowledge in deciding how to vote if Ms Davidson, as Chair of R4GV could indicate whether or not their individual candidates live in the division where they are seeking election. Their addresses are not required – just Yes or No ”

  7. Fiona Davidson Reply

    April 29, 2021 at 11:38 am

    If Mr Brown would like to understand where an R4GV candidate lives, or to discuss any of the issues associated with the election, I suggest that he emails the candidate using the format: firstname.lastname@r4gv.org.uk and would be very happy to respond.

    Fiona Davidson is the chair of R4GV and a candidate for Guildford South East in the forthcong county council election.

  8. Chris O'Keeffe Reply

    May 10, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    I think it is perfectly reasonable for a candidate to choose whether to display their address or not. There are advantages to displaying your address and some disadvantages.

    I think it reasonable to ask the question are the candidates local but I do raise an eyebrow at the tone of some political activists who attack everyone and seek criticism in anything not Liberal Democrat. It seems to be a modus operandi of the local Liberal Democrats and I do not see anyone else doing it.

    Now the election is over and the Liberal Democrats have secured new divisions, as well as being the biggest group on the borough council, we can wait to be impressed by their delivery on the promises they have made to the people of Guildford.

    Actually being responsible may prove slightly more difficult than picking fault in others.

    Chris O’Keeffe was the Conservative candidate for Guildford North in the SCC election.

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