1. Best for Mole Valley?

    The first full council meeting since the elections took place on 24 May.  The main business of this meeting is to elect the Leader – which on this occasion was under the new “Strong Leader” method for a period of four years.  The Leader than has the job of appointing his Executive (much like a Cabinet).  The Council then elects Chairmen for all the various committees including the important Development Control, Scrutiny and Audit committees.

    Naturally since we have a “hung council” with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats having almost equal representation, and with ourselves holding the “balance of power” there were extensive discussions beforehand in meetings and by e-mail in which David Howell, as the leader of our group, played an important role.  Our objective all along, as it has been since this time last year when the same situation applied, has been to achieve a cross-party Executive employing skills and talents across the chamber.  Last year neither major party would accept this and so reluctantly we agreed to enable the Conservatives, as the larger party, to form the Executive. During the year, after a by-election the Liberal Democrats became the larger party, and themselves offered a 3-3-1 Executive structure. However at that stage in the year, with the Conservatives clearly adopting a collaborative stance and allowing discussion in the Chamber on important issues, we felt that a change would be detrimental to the interests of the District.

    Now the situation remains as it was following the by-election, but this time the Liberal Democrats refused to accept a 3-3-1 structure and insisted on control of the Executive despite the fact that this is not the situation in the full Council.  The Conservatives by contrast offered and indeed promoted 3-3-1 and for this and for the collaborative approach which he had shown over the year, we decided to support  their candidate for Leader. Once in post he again offered the Liberal Democrats three Executive portfolios. Unfortunately they again declined, with the result that we accepted two Executive positions with the Conservatives taking four.  We remain disappointed, but look forward to the opportunity of serving the District as a whole.  We hope that our approach will encourage other Independent candidates to stand elsewhere in the District.

    The Liberal Democrats do now hold the chairmanship of most of the Council committees including the three mentioned above. It remains to be seen how they will exercise their influence in these positions.

  2. 2010 – All change at Mole Valley

    There was an increase in Ashtead Independents representation on the Council in May with the return of John Northcott (Common Ward), also elected as Chairman of the Council for 2010/2011, and the election of Richard Brooke (Park Ward) and Simon Ling (Village Ward). These successes have led to some fundamental changes in the way Mole Valley District Council operates.

    Ashtead Independents now hold the balance of power on the Council and we are committed to supporting greater transparency and community involvement in all decisions made. Our hopes of creating a truly cross-party coalition to face the difficult times ahead, and to reflect the political  choices made by the electorate were initially dashed by those entrenched in “party politics”.

    Whilst this initial setback was disappointing, we eventually supported the appointment of a new Conservative administration based on their agreement to deliver a more open culture, create cross-party working groups for policy development and listen to local residents’ views on the issues that have a direct impact on their lives.

    As we move into 2011 the promised changes are being delivered and have allowed local members to play a far more active role in the running of the Council. Our commitment to this style of administration will continue as we believe that it is the only way to get the best out of the Council.