SSDC councillor defects
South Somerset District Council has just got its first Green Party Councillor. Charlie Hull the councillor for Northstone, Ivelchester & St Michael’s has left the Conservative Party block and will represent the Greens.
The change has been confirmed on the council website and we’ll provide an update very soon.
However it is significant as it will be the first time that a Green Councillor has sat on South Somerset District Council. Nevertheless, it remains the position of The Leveller, that all councillors should call a by-election and seek a new mandate if they change parties between elections. The more so as it is barely a year since the last SSDC elections.
This will not alter the balance of power at the council which is a LibDem council and will simply change the composition of the opposition (ie one less Conservative, one more Green). However Charlie did poll the best figures of the three Conservative candidates (the ward elects three councillors) put up for election in 2019:
- Tony Capozzoli – Independent 1493
- Paul Thomas Rowsell Liberal Democrats 1022
- Charlie Hull Conservative Party 980
- Alexander Christie Priest Conservative Party 908
- Christopher Antony Le Hardy Conservative Party 678
In a statement to The Leveller, Charlie Hull told us ” My family and I moved to a village near Somerton three years ago from the Midlands, due to a career promotion for my wife. I used to be a secondary school teacher (History and PE), but now work from home on a part-time, self-employed basis. I have also gained extensive school governance experience, both primary and secondary. Our two teenage children go to local schools in Langport and Street. We are delighted we made the move. This part of the world is very special, not least due to the beauty of the local environment and the careful husbandry shown towards it by so many of our varied communities. It is their example that has finally prompted me to ‘make the switch’ and become a Green Councillor.
I recall reading the 2019 Green Party GE manifesto and finding myself nodding vigorously, paragraph by paragraph, as it became apparent that I profoundly agreed with almost every point. Finally, some transformational long-term solutions to THE biggest challenge we all face. I remain excited by the many proposals currently being refined and, as an educationalist, strongly sense that here is the party best placed to bring all the generations together in common endeavour; not least for ensuring optimum levels of happiness and well-being across South Somerset.
When not working, attending council / governor meetings or engaged in family life, I thoroughly enjoy most sports; sadly I cannot play much anymore, but am always happy when watching my favourite teams with friends.
Speaking to The Leveller, Conservative Group Leader Linda Vijeh noted “Whilst I was of course disappointed to hear from Charlie that he was planning to resign from his membership of the Conservative party, I believe it is up to us all as individuals to follow our convictions. Since his election to South Somerset District Council barely a year ago, I have been well aware of Charlie’s frustration and dissatisfaction with the role of district councillor. He has mentioned to me on more than one occasion that he felt unsuited to this particular role in representing the community, especially when it came to planning matters.
I fully understand and appreciate that he feels that campaigning for environmental standards must be his top priority. However, I am surprised, given that he maintains he has always been a committed Conservative, that he has not chosen to engage with the Conservative Environment Network which campaigns heavily on green issues, and environmental change. I agree that we have a long way to go, but certainly since the last election South Somerset District Council have made great headway in highlighting environmental issues, which has received our full support for the initiatives being put in place. We must not forget that when being funded by the taxpayer, during what will become increasingly tough times, there is only so much that can be done.
What concerns me about Charlie’s decision is that in deciding to switch parties, he must realise that he was elected under the Conservative party banner, and in rejecting that mandate is leaving himself open to much criticism and disappointment amongst those who voted for him. On a personal level, I have always felt very strongly that anyone deciding to change their political allegiance should, as a matter of honour, stand down and agree to a by-election. Of course, at the moment, with other, what I would suggest are more important issues that we are currently facing, it was perhaps not an appropriate time to take this course of action. Interestingly, if Charlie chooses to stay as a district councillor, he will still face the same frustrations and challenges that seem to have been the cause of his defection.
My colleagues and I wish him all the best in his future role as a green campaigner.“