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Resignation Means Tories Lose Majority on Surrey Heath Council

Published on: 1 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 3 Mar, 2022

Cllr David Mansfield (bottom left) is moving home to the South West.

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

The Conservatives have lost their majority on Surrey Heath Borough Council after a councillor resigned last week. Surrey Heath, which includes Frimley and Camberley, borders Guildford borough to the north west.

Conservative David Mansfield, last elected in 2019 for the Bisley and West End ward, has resigned meaning the Conservatives no longer have a majority on the authority.

The  Liberal Democrats, Independents and the Green party all made gains in 2019 and the Tories saw their majority slashed from 15 seats to one.

Now, with 17 members remaining, they are still the largest party but the Independents, Greens and Labour also have 17 seats combined; so the future control of the council will hinge on the resulting by-election, which is likely to be called.

Cllr Mansfield, who stood down at the end of last Wednesday’s council meeting, said: “I’m proud of the many issues that I’ve stood up for during the three terms I’ve had the honour of being elected on behalf of my residents.

“I’m sure you will agree some of these changes occasionally brought me into conflict with my own party and former members.

“However, I’ve always believed in honesty, integrity and that’s been my priority.”

He served as portfolio holder for Environment and Health when it was announced last year that Surrey Heath ranked sixth in Defra’s 2019/20 local authority recycling league table.

The borough was sending 62.9 per cent of its collected household waste to recycling, when the South East average was only 47.5 per cent.

He came out of retirement to take a temporary contract with the NHS in London in 2019, but is now retiring for the second time and moving home to the South West.

Councillors are not obliged to resign when they move away from their jurisdiction. There are cases of councillors even moving abroad and continuing to serve. Such decisions are normally controversial, as they are in the case of Helen and Tony Gorham, two Ash Parish councillors, husband and wife, who moved to Wiltshire but remain on the parish council.

See: Who Can Say If Parish Absentees Are Still Qualified Councillors?

An election to replace Cllr Mansfield will be called if two residents who are registered to vote in Surrey Heath write to returning officer Damian Roberts asking for an election.

He will then set a date for a by-election within 35 working days. Otherwise, the vacancy can be filled by an expression of interest.

The other councillors serving the Bisley and West End ward are Conservative Adrian Page and Independent Graham Alleway.

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