Over there in the East Cranleigh & Ewhurst Conservatives remain troubled and divided following an acrimonious selection process of their county council candidate. Some Tories have resigned from the local branch – others say they are boycotting Thursday’s poll – some for the first time in their lives.
In Farnham, Godalming & Haslemere there is considerable disquiet among Tory voters for the way the Local Plan has been handled/delayed. Voters are asking why the floodgates have been opened to developers so early in the LP process accusing ‘Your Waverley” of saying: ‘come on in.’
The deselection of Cllr Alan Young, who has served as the county councillor for Cranleigh and Ewhurst since May 2011, has proved unpopular with many Conservative party members of their Cranleigh and Ewhurst branches. Some say they will be voting for other parties, and not for Tory Andrew Povey. Others will stay away.
You can read what happened here: Pre – Election Stress Disorder hits Ewhurst and Cranleigh.
Young, who beat Guildford councillor Matt Furniss to the role of Guildford Conservative Association (GCA) chairman in March 2013 was forced out of the GCA chairmanship in the summer 2014 following a motion of no confidence that was shrouded in secrecy.
But few expected the nomination of his replacement as a county council candidate to be the former leader of Surrey County Council, Dr Andrew Povey who resigned as SCC leader in 2011 after falling out with his colleagues including his deputy. His deputy, David Hodge, the current leader went on to succeeded him.
Following his resignation Povey controversially tweeted: “Surrey County Council new cabinet; Still 6 men, 4 women. One known gay. No Ph D’s.”
But the deselected Cllr Young, doesn’t enjoy universal support in the Cranleigh and Ewhurst division. He led his borough council colleagues into numerous secret meetings with developers relating to unpopular new developments. Planning permission has been granted for over 1,300 homes around Cranleigh, many of which are now under construction. Along with his borough councillor colleagues he is proud of creating – ‘Cranleigh New Town.’
However, Young has his fans, and there have been numerous complaints from party members over the way his deselection and Povey’s selection was handled.
Local branch members claim they were excluded from the selection process and that a hearing of Young’s appeal against his deselection, organised by the Guildford Conservative Association, was held at their offices in Loseley Park, on a day on which it was known Alan Young would be unable to attend.
Angry supporters of Mr Young in Ewhurst, say they were disgusted by the decision not to select their chosen candidate and some have resigned. Others say they will not be voting,
A bid by the local branch to put forward, a completely new contender, Phillip Townsend, a local man recommended by the influential Cranleigh Civic Society, failed and the GCA opted for the ‘ experienced’ candidate. There were calls locally for Mr Townsend to stand as an Independent, so the disenchanted Tories could get behind him. Many voters want to take Politics with a Big P out of local government.
Andrew Povey says in his election literature he is “opposing over-development in Cranleigh & Ewhurst” and is particularly concerned about traffic congestion in both villages. He is also understood to be an opponent of any development at Dunsfold airfield.
Party members who have contacted the Waverley Web said they had never experienced such an acrimonious selection and could not believe that such a discredited individual as Dr Povey had been chosen to represent Cranleigh & Ewhurst.
WW expects that David Hodge will be delighted to be working with Councillor Povey again when he returns to County Hall shortly – after all we have said it before...
The GCSA says: In Andrew Povey we have an experienced candidate who enjoys the confidence of the Party and he will receive our full support.
But John Beckwith-Smith, deputy chairman (fund-raising) of the GCA and Cranleigh and vice chair of the Conservative’s Ewhurst branch, said: “I am unhappy with the selection of Andrew Povey as our Surrey County Council candidate. He has been deselected by GCA against the wishes of the local branch members.
“This process was carried out in a clandestine and underhand way by GCA and the process was in breach of numerous rules of the Conservative Party Constitution.
“Alan Young has been a very pro-active county councillor and has been very effective in representing his constituents at county level. I and the vast majority of Cranleigh and Ewhurst local Conservative branch members wanted to see Alan Young stand and represent us again.
“GCA decided that Alan should not be allowed to stand again without giving any reasons why. We have attempted numerous times to challenge this process.
“As we live in an area which is usually Conservative at all levels of government, selection of our candidates is the only semblance of democracy on offer to us. It is extremely disappointing and frustrating to have this process ripped out of our hands by our party.
“Our recent experience with the Conservative Party and GCA would not be unusual in Russia or China but is very disturbing in “democratic” Britain.”