Samantha Davies Goes It Alone
Turnham Green Conservative councillor becomes ‘Chiswick Independent’
Cllr Samantha has left the Conservative party to become a ‘Chiswick Independent’. Rumours of her departure began when she sat in a separate part of the chamber away from her former party members during a council meeting.
In a statement to ChiswickW4.com, Cllr Davies said "Many will already know that I recently resigned the Conservative Group Whip on the London Borough of Hounslow (and therefore have also resigned from the Conservative Party, as well). I did not initially make a statement as I really did not think that it would generate such interest. However, I did always intend to explain my reasons and under the circumstances, I feel it best if I make a (relatively) brief statement now."
"The Brentford & Isleworth Conservative Association have recently changed the rules regarding the re-nomination of Conservative candidates for the local elections in 2010. Basically, it is form of 'mandatory re-selection' and I have been reliably informed (and believe them) that this was a way of dealing with 'awkward' sitting Conservative councillors. I am not prepared to leave myself open to being deselected in such a fashion (not that I have actually voted against a whipped vote in the Council chamber - I have only expressed dissenting views privately) and have therefore decided that I will sit as a "Chiswick Independent".
"The deselection issue is potentially very important to the integrity of local councillors because this new administration does have some policies that need to be properly addressed. The parking enforcement cameras is an obvious one. Even councillors can now get parking tickets for parking in the Council car park! Presumably they do this when there aren't enough spaces left in the members' area. However, the issue of using parking to make extra revenue is an important one. Indeed, from a legal perspective, I do not believe that Councils are allowed to operate parking regimes as revenue making schemes.
"Of more importance, perhaps, is the future of the local Area Monitoring and Planning Committees. I believe that, at best, these are important examples of how delegated democracy can work and know from personal experience how popular the Chiswick area committees are. I would hate to see them dissolved, only to be replaced by impersonal committees in the Hounslow Civic Centre. However, officers appear to be investigating ways of changing the structure of the local authority.
"So, I fully intend to both sit and act as an Independent and, whilst I will always vote for what I believe to be right for the local community, the ruling coalition must not expect that I will always vote with them, as though I were still voting under a Conservative Whip.
"I would also not presume that I would not be prepared to stand again as an Independent! It is true that Chiswick has traditionally voted for the Conservative Party more than any other political party. However, I do believe that there is a sense of civic identity in Chiswick, whose residents do actually possess an independent mind. Therefore, no-one should take their votes for granted."
Cllr Davies has numerous roles within the council including chairing the Licensing Panel. Other positions include Chiswick Area Committee (Monitoring and Planning, Election Review Panel, Gunnersbury Park Joint Committee, Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, Teenage Pregnancy Review - sub group of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel. She also is a member of the Chiswick Pier Trust, Hounslow Homes Board and the Hounslow Law Centre although these have historically been as a representative of the Conservative party.
Commenting on Cllr Davies' departure, Leader of the Council Peter Thompson told ChiswickW4.com "It is worth stressing that her [Samantha Davies] disagreement is with the local party and not the conservative group on the council. I therefore deeply regret that Cllr Davies felt that she had no other options open to her and I have certainly always valued her hard work as one of my fellow ward councillors."
On the subject of what will happen within the Council, Peter Thompson said "Cllr Davies does sit as Chair of the Council's Licensing Committee. Places on committees such as these have to be balanced between the various parties that make up the Council and in light of Cllr Davies resignation the Council will have to recalcualte who is entitled to what positions."
The timing could not be worse for local Conservatives who will be contesting the Chiswick Riverside election next Thursday 13th December.
December 7, 2007