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Councillor Resignations - Elections or Co-option?

From Stephen Curry

Friday, 4 April 2014

I have been critical in the past of Cllrs who do not fulfil the tenure which the electorate have given them and I have expressed irritation that when Cllrs resign early, we are left with a bill as tax payers for the ensuing by-elections.

For the timing of these three resignations though, I would give these Cllrs some credit for at least allowing the possibility of by-elections to be conducted along with the May district and Euro elections. The timetable is tight but that can be done. There will still be some cost to this, but significantly less than running by-elections ward by ward for just the Town Council.

There are some who say there are advantages in having Cllrs who fill seats on both Hebden Royd and Calderdale councils. I have in the past suggested that this can create both a conflict of interests and limit the time and commitment they can give to each role. Each resigning Cllr will perhaps give their own personal reasons for resigning, but the time commitment of being on both District and Town council surely has to be a factor.

I am in favour of the democratic process being undertaken, however, where a seat will be up for mandatory election in just over a year anyway, I would favour the application of co-option without political party patronage and saving the costs. This current situation provides a great opportunity for the more pragmatic members of Hebdenroyd council to co-opt willing community members for 12 months who could enhance the council's ability to achieve more community based projects such as the Neighbourhood Plan and other social projects. The alternative is to co-opt the party faithful just to continue the point scoring and putting party first and the wider community second.

Is this just a plug for independent members of the community to be sought out for co-option? Partly, of course. But the parties may be too afraid that Cllrs who are not party members might prove to embrace a less narrow constituency and be more committed to the whole community. We will see.

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Stephen Curry's post always drip with utter contempt for anyone who is elected on a party political platform yet here he is issuing a plea for those very same people he so despises to co-opt him onto Hebden Royd Town Council.

It is incredibly arrogant to suggest those of us are members of political parties can't in any way represent the broader interests of our community. According to Mr Curry only independents can do that.

Equally he goes on about democracy. It is worth remembering that cllrs who represent parties are not only accountable to the electorate, but have to account for their actions to their colleagues which is a useful check and balance. If co-opted Mr Curry would be accountable to an electorate who didn't vote for him the first place and - ahem - Mr Curry.

I actually have a great deal of respect for local councilors from all parties - who I often disagree with - on Hebden Royd Council who we should remember give their time and skills for free.

Given Mr Curry has thus far failed to win an election as an independent this might be the only way for him to take a place on the council.

Surely if he is a democrat he should invoke the mechanisms available to him to stand under a proud independent banner in one of the seats and see if he can actually win an election.

From Stephen Curry

Sunday, 6 April 2014

I have to say if it was anyone else but Paul who had written the above reply I would be shocked at the level of personal attack and misrepresentation of my views and personality by someone I have never met. I am also disappointed it was accepted under the standards expressed in the forum guidelines. I certainly do not have or have not expressed any "contempt" for individuals on the HRTC, in fact as I have worked closely with some of them in my time as a trustee and secretary of of the Hebden Bridge Community Association and as a director of the Town Partnership (posts which also demand people to give up much "free time and skills"). I would be extremely surprised if any of those I have worked with would make the same twisted judgements about me as Paul does.

I am active in our community and I believe I have made a worthy contribution on the various bodies I have served on. But strangely enough in this small town I have never met Paul in any of those real world forums. But I hope somewhere he is involved in more practical community activities than just commenting on others on Hebweb. I'm sure he has much to contribute.

The fact that I have been prepared to stand and fund myself for election, and will do so again regardless of such personal jibes from Paul, I think that shows I am a democrat.

My proposals re co-options at this time are about being as pragmatic as Labour and the Lib Dems where last year when they did a deal in co-opting their last two Cllrs. (one from each party) You could argue that they, not being elected, are also not accountable to the electorate (until next May 2015). Where is the democracy in that inter-party deal? Do party candidates have more rights to put up and be considered for co-option than other citizens? I would say no, but because they have political control to exclude other willing and suitable candidates with decent track records in community work, they are likely to show that bias.

And yes, if there is to be an election, I will willingly take part in the full democratic process to give the majority who seem to have given up on the local democratic process a choice other than Labour or the Lib Dems. I have not failed thus far in elections because people chose Labour or Lib Dems over an independent, it is that most people have given up on politics and voting and seem to have abandoned the idea of parish councils being neutral of party politics. I like a challenge though.

From Paul Clarke

Monday, 7 April 2014

I am a bit perplexed that Mr Curry seemed to think I have launched a personal attack on him. In fact, operating within this site's guidelines I stuck by the facts,

Mr Curry is asking that two political parties - who on the evidence of his posts he despises- co-opt independents like him to Hebden Royd Town Council. One of his constant refrains is that debate between political opponents is just point scoring rather than part of a normal discourse between elected representatives.

I also pointed out that Mr Curry has never won a local election which is true. In fairness he does admit it is because in a democracy people seem to prefer my party or the Lib Dems rather someone who is only accountable to himself. It is also true that no independent candidates won a seat in the last Calderdale elections so any wave of disillusion is not heading the way of the so called 'independents.'

I never suggested he despised individuals just the parties they represent, although you have to wonder why those politicians think when they read his posts.

Unlike Mr Curry I am not seeking public office so I feel no compulsion to trot out what I do in my community.

Equally even in a small town it is not all that surprising that people move in different circles.

But our paths did cross at the last ward forum where the A and E issue which affects every voter in Calder ward was discussed. I was not sent along by the Labour Party to mouth the party line but I went as a concerned citizen.

I'd taken the trouble to read the trust's hopelessly biased rationale for downgrading our A and E. I asked a number of pertinent questions because I believe we need to keep our A and E open.

I was joined in this assault by two local Labour politicians and - in fairness - someone from another political party. Plus a great contribution from another well informed local and other contributions from other people

Between us dastardly politicos and other local people we picked significant holes in their feeble narrative.

I was waiting for Mr Curry to put the 'independent' view but sadly when he had a golden opportunity to challenge the trust he had nothing to say on this vital issue for local people.

So when you get Mr Curry's election address it is something to bear in mind.

From Alen Keep

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Paul has answered some of the charges made against him but hasn't explained why he accused his opponent of contempt and arrogance which seemed somewhat unnecessary.

More often than not I agree with Paul apart, for example, from his erroneous views on dogs, a certain breed of which he reminds me of on occasions.

I daresay his bark is worse than his bite - but then it's easy to get the wrong idea about a person or indeed an animal you don't know - if unwise at times to articulate it.

From Christine Bampton-Smith

Monday, 14 April 2014

I would like to publically thank the three councillors who have resigned from Hebden Royd Town Council. John Beacroft-Mitchell, James Baker and Nader Fekri between them served for many years and made a significant voluntary contribution to the Council and Community.

John and Nader fulfilled the time consuming role of Mayor and James was at the forefront of a move for the Council to take on an apprentice.

I respect their reasons for resigning and wish them all the best for the future. They all helped make Hebden Royd a better place.

Christine Bampton-Smith
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Hebden Royd Town Council


Contributors should remember the forum guidelines and try to be courteous to other contributors. Otherwise, their messages will not be posted. - Ed.