No love lost ahead of Valentine's Day parish poll in Peasedown
There will be no love lost among would-be politicians battling it out for votes in Peasedown St John on Valentine’s Day.
Labour and Co-operative Party candidate Jordan Ness has launched an outspoken attack on a pressure group which he says dominates the parish council as the village prepares to go to the polls on February 14.
The 19-year-old, who hopes to become the youngest parish councillor ever elected locally, attacked Peasedown 1st and accused B&NES Liberal Democrat Councillor Nathan Hartley – whose mother and stepfather lead the pressure group – of trying to micro-manage all political activity in the village.
Law student Mr Ness faces competition from Peasedown 1st candidate and mother-of-five Becci McCafferty and former village parish clerk John Whittock, who is not standing for any political party.
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Mr Ness said: “The dominant Peasedown 1st still rules the roost – despite their support leaking away in the past few months. If local people elect me I will be challenging the stranglehold this group has on Peasedown St John. They are holding us back.”
A press release issued in Mr Ness’s name made reference to Mr Hartley’s recent conviction for drink-driving which saw him step down as a B&NES cabinet member and the fact he was co-opted without election to the parish council, joining his mother, Peasedown 1st vice-chair Karen Walker, and stepfather, the pressure group’s chairman David Walker.
Mr Hartley said he was angered and upset by the contents of the release, adding: “I cannot believe someone would stoop so low during a parish council by-election.”
He laughed off claims he was the controlling force behind Peasedown 1st, saying: “If anyone thinks my mother is someone who could be easily controlled, they obviously have never met her.”
He insisted the group - which has 12 members on the parish council - included members of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, who want to keep party politics out of parish level governance.
B&NES Labour group leader Councillor John Bull (Paulton) has disassociated his group from the release, which he said had not been seen by the local branch of the party before its release.
Mr Whittock, who lives in Radstock, has spent many years as a councillor including a four-year stint as a conservative B&NES politician in Midsomer Norton. He said there had been disarray within the parish council and called for greater stability. He added: “During the past few months, half of its original elected members have resigned. It has had three chairmen so has not had a consistent guiding force.”
Ms McCafferty encouraged voters to not get distracted by the rows and to show their support for Peasedown 1st. She said: “The community has a lot going for it, much of which Peasedown 1st has shown over the last two years with their events, fundraising initiatives and community clean-ups. If I’m elected I’ll do my best to continue moving our village forward as a place where all people feel welcomed and included.”