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Letter: Borough Not Well Served By Main Political Parties

Published on: 9 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 9 Mar, 2015

From Tony Ferris, standing as an independent candidate for Stoughton ward in the forthcoming Guildford Borough Council elections

emails letterI see with interest in the local press that there has been a flurry of letters from prospective candidates and pundits warming up the debate for the May 7 elections.

I believe that Guildford Borough Council is not well served by the main national political parties. Indeed, I think that political parties have no place in local government at all.

From what I have observed, the party system creates pointless ill feeling and is divisive. Over the years, we have seen the petty quarrels between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats aired in the local media. It is not helpful or welcome.

With Guildford Borough Council adopting the cabinet system, a party line is adopted on all main decisions. Some may say that this is an efficient way of making decisions. I think that this just imposes party thinking on Guildford. A good idea is a good idea, regardless of the party line.

Independents make up nearly 6% of all councillors in the UK. Independents are a growing reality.

I intend to stand as an independent candidate in Stoughton this May. I hope that there will be many others giving Guildford an alternative to the present party regime.

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Responses to Letter: Borough Not Well Served By Main Political Parties

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 9, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Tony is, I am afraid, a voice crying in the wilderness.

    However, he is so right.

    We do need more councillors who are not sponsored by the national parties in local affairs.

    Councillors that are not bound by the so-called party whips but both speak and reflect the true feelings of the residents who voted for them.

    National government policies so often cloud local issues, that is why this year we see the birth of other pressure groups which are also independent.

  2. George Potter Reply

    March 9, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    I should point out that, speaking from personal knowledge, the Liberal Democrat group on the council is never whipped and never has been. However, as you might expect of people who share the same basic views to the extent that they all joined the same party, they tend to vote the same way.

    The reason that parties exist of course is because it makes sense for people who share the same views to associate with each other and because to get a councillor elected generally requires a team effort which also results in people grouping together around shared views.

    You only need to look at the Guildford Greenbelt Group (or the residents’ associations in Epsom and Ewell) to see that same tendency for people with the same views to work together and form parties founded on their views.

    Personally speaking, I’m a Liberal Democrat because I’m a liberal. I believe that people should be free to do what they like without interference unless it hurts others and I believe that people should be free from things like poverty, inequality and anything else which is not of their own making and limits their freedom to live their lives as they wish. I also believe that the role of government should be to safeguard that freedom and enable people to obtain it.

    That philosophy is just as applicable to local issues as it is to national issues so I don’t see any reason not to join a group of like-minded people who are involved in politics in pursuit of that philosophy at both a local and a national level.

    After all, it’s very rare to find a serious issue which fits neatly into the “local” or “national” pigeonhole.

  3. Helen Jefferies Reply

    March 9, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I would agree that party politics have not served borough residents well.

    In the past 18 months both Conservative and Lib Dem councillors have been voting with the whip – this has only changed recently after pressure from the residents who elected them to represent their wards.

    My take from the hustings hosted by the ICE at G Live tonight (Monday, March 9) is that all the main national parties believe that the economy will only grow by building housing.

    In this borough however everyone acknowledges that infrastructure does not cope with today’s population never mind the increase proposed by the Tory draft Local Plan.

    If residents of the borough wish to protect their environment, be it in the town or in the countryside, for both them and for the younger generation, I believe they would be better served by councillors who focus on the local interest rather than the national whip.

  4. Chris Dick Reply

    March 10, 2015 at 9:26 am

    It is worth noting that Epsom & Ewell Borough Council has been run independent of the main parties for over 70 years. The main parties are represented but independent resident associations have held the majority. This has been the only borough council in the country to be so run.

  5. chris fox Reply

    March 13, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Unfortunately it is highly likely that Tony will lose because he has no running mates.

    Every voter in Stoughton has three votes which means that for every vote cast for Tony two will be cast for his opponents.

    Every single candidate in a three-member ward must learn the lesson that to get elected they almost certainly need two colleagues to form a complete ticket.

  6. Tony Ferris Reply

    March 14, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Thank you to those who commented. It’s good to listen and debate this issue.

    In answer to George Potter, it is all very well that like-minded people get together in a political party on the council. In a way, that is the problem.

    I am sure that the present councillors work very hard and I applaud them for caring. But they are political and they want to play politics. Some of our borough councillors are also Surrey County Councillors which effectively makes them full-time politicians.

    Is this what Guildford needs? Local government must be about local issues and not about mimicking what is happening in Westminster.

    It is time for a change on Guildford Borough Council. We need to move away from the party system and towards independents councillors. As an independent, I will not have half an eye on any party’s success (or failure) on the national stage.

  7. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 15, 2015 at 9:16 am

    It is said that “man cannot serve two masters”. If this is the true for councillors serving three it must be a virtually impossible task.

    A councillor standing as an independent is entirely at liberty to act in the general interests of his electorate regardless.

    Let us hope that we see more people as such come forward.

    Good luck Tony!

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