Fringe Box



Nearly Half of the Conservative County Councillors Are Not Standing for Re-election

Published on: 15 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 18 Apr, 2021

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

Nearly half of the 60 Conservative councillors controlling the county council are dropping out of the May 6 election.

In the 2017 vote, the Tories won 61 of the 81 seats in Surrey, Sadly, since then one of their councillors has died, but 27 will not stand as a Conservative this time, an unusually high drop-out rate of 45 per cent.

Cllr Chris Botten

Lib Dem group leader Chris Botten (Caterham Hill), said he believed councillors had been alienated by the Conservative administration’s bid last year to replace all 12 councils in Surrey with one.

“I am shocked to see so many Conservative councillors retiring, including some very senior cabinet or former cabinet members,” he said.

“The council is clearly in a mess, that is why so many are leaving. How can local people expect to have confidence in the Conservatives running the council, if those running it do not?”

Cllr Tim Oliver

But council leader Tim Oliver (Con, Weybridge), said: “Nobody is leaving in a huff. No disrespect to anyone but the average age is quite high, well beyond normal retirement age, Mel Few, for example, is in his late seventies.

“They’ve done their time and feel it’s good to let some new blood in.

“It has been a tough three years with the council going through significant transformation at pace. That’s quite challenging for some and I think the pandemic has had a major impact and some people have adjusted their views of life.”

Sallie Barker

Sallie Barker, chair of the Guildford Conservative Association, who is a candidate in Guildford South West, added: “We are delighted to have excellent candidates standing for election in Guildford and across all Surrey divisions.”

Notable members departing include cabinet members Mr Few (resources and corporate support), Zully Grant-Duff (corporate support) and Mary Lewis (children, young people and families), all of whom have served two terms.

Mrs Lewis’s husband David is to stand in her place. “Although we are the same family, it’s two very different skillsets,” she said. “For me, even if it’s not job done, it’s job moved forward.”

She said she likes to give 100 per cent to what she does, and “there are so many things to do in life”.

Overall, 30 county councillors are not returning, meaning 37 per cent of the chamber is guaranteed to look different.

The Conservatives are the only party to field candidates in all of Surrey’s 81 seats.

The second-largest party in 2017 was Liberal Democrats with nine councillors (11 per cent of seats, 22 per cent of votes).

There is also one Labour and one Green Party, with the remaining 12 seats held by independents or residents’ association parties (following a death, a defection and a resignation from Conservatives).

The independents and residents’ associations have a strong presence in next month’s battle, with a total of 38 contesting seats, and fresh parties are standing in some areas.

The “socially conservative” Heritage Party, formed just last year, will field candidates in five of Woking’s seven seats.

And Residents for Guildford and Villages (R4GV), formed two years ago and who share power with the Liberal Democrats on the borough council, have put forward candidates for six of Guildford’s 10 seats.

Fiona Davidson

R4GV group chair Fiona Davidson, who is standing in Guildford South East, said: “Given our success in 2019 we are optimistic, but not in any way complacent.

“A lot of what we want to achieve in Guildford depends on the county. Our town centre masterplan can work only with the support of the county council, who are responsible for concerns such as highways and flooding.

“What unites everyone in the independents group is that we don’t have the agenda of the national parties. We’re focusing on what people who live in Surrey want.”

There will be 331 candidates competing for the 81 seats, with 14 political groups putting forward candidates.

For details of who is standing where in the Guildford divisions see: Does 2019 Tory Defeat Now Threaten Party’s Long Grip On the County?

SCC candidates by political party/group (as listed by SCC)

Political Party Candidates
Conservative Party 81
Green Party 36
Guildford Greenbelt Group 1
Heritage Party – Free Speech & Liberty 5
Independents 20
Labour and Co-operative Party 22
Labour Party 57
Liberal Democrat 72
Peace Party – Non-violence, Justice, Environment 1
Reform UK 6
Residents’ Associations 18
Trade Union & Socialist Coalition 5
Workers Party of Britain 2
Total 331



Share This Post

Responses to Nearly Half of the Conservative County Councillors Are Not Standing for Re-election

  1. Colin Cross Reply

    April 15, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    R4GV are actually a registered political party, the same as those listed by name.

    However you are not showing it anywhere, can this be amended please?

    Colin Cross is and R4GV candidate in the forthcoming SCC election.

    Editor’s response: The list was produced by SCC.

  2. Jonathan Horsley Reply

    April 16, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    This is worrying news.

    Lockdown has shown just how lucky we are to have so much wonderful open space around us, so much of it cared for on our behalf by Surrey County Council. We take for granted the good job that they do.

    Gratitude is in short supply in contemporary politics but I hope we see as many as possible of our excellent sitting councillors return to serve again – especially the outstanding Cllr Julie Iles, who is a superb representative in my area.

    • Sally Sexton Reply

      April 27, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      I agree. Julie Iles has been a wonderful councillor for the area. She’s tackled a number of significant local problems head-on when others simply couldn’t be bothered.

      I’ve never voted Conservative but, in my view, I’d rather have hard-working, committed and effective councillors in place regardless of the national party they belong to.

  3. Colin Cross Reply

    April 16, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    SCC is an organisation that is run by a Conservative majority and their bias is showing its influence here.

    Clearly this needs to be corrected as it is plain wrong and a misrepresentation of the facts.

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 *