Marlborough Tories up in arms over West Selkley Candidate selection for next year’s Wiltshire Council election
At a selection meeting for the rural West Selkley division of Wiltshire County Council Jane Davies, a West Selkley resident, was adopted to stand as the Conservative candidate. This has not gone down well with certain sections of the Marlborough Conservatives who wanted Councillor Stewart Dobson to be appointed candidate for this division.
Stewart Dobson is currently the sitting Conservative Wiltshire Councillor for the urban Marlborough East division. Whilst all current Conservative Councillors were given the option to remain in their position, unopposed in the selection process, Councillor Dobson, last autumn, chose to relinquish Marlborough East to seek election in West Selkley.
Whilst in Marlborough East at the 2013 Wiltshire Council election he was the narrow victor (32.1% share of the vote) over independents Nigel Kerton (29.4%) and Peggy Dow, incumbent Councillor (18.5%), Jemima Milton romped home in West Selkley with over 77% share of vote, the highest achieved by any Conservative candidate in 2013.
Later, in January he changed his mind but then had to stand for re-selection for Marlborough East against fellow Marlborough Town Councillor, Justin Cook - proprietor of the ‘Living Art’ gallery in Hungerford as well local private car hire company Arrow Cars. Both presented to the Executive Council for selection to this division and Justin Cook won.
In Marlborough’s other division, Marlborough West, Ian Mellor has been selected to stand for the Conservatives to oppose the incumbent independent Councillor, Nick Fogg. Sitting Councillor James Sheppard will continue as Conservative canditate for the other Marlborough area seat, Aldbourne and Ramsbury.
Initially in West Selkley there was a short list of seven potential candidates vying for this safest of seats which was then whittled down to two by the division’s committee of five members. Councillor Dobson was one of these seven names but was not selected to proceed to the short list which ultimately comprised Jane Davies and Caroline Ramsay from Calne, both on the list of candidates approved by Wiltshire Conservatives.
Jane Davies was then selected to represent the Conservatives in West Selkley by a ballot of Conservative members resident in the division attending the meeting on Monday 22 February which was chaired by the sitting Councillor, Jemima Milton.
This has angered sections of the Marlborough Conservative grouping, of whom Councillor Dobson is a key member, as they want him to remain a Conservative candidate for Wiltshire Council although not representing either of the two Marlborough seats.
It has been reported to Marlborough News Online that some members of the Marlborough Conservative Branch Committee have resigned in protest at Councillor Dobson’s unsuccessful application for the West Selkley candidacy but as yet we have had no confirmation of any such moves.
Richard Gamble, Chairman of the Devizes Constituency Conservative Association said: “Stewart Dobson has been a hard-working and effective councillor for many years whom I have regarded as a friend. It is the nature of electoral processes that not everyone can always win as they would wish. The new candidates for Marlborough East, Marlborough West and West Selkley have been selected by fair competition and I welcome them. I hope we will also be able to find a role for Stewart that will take advantage of his talents.”