Wiltshire Publications

New independent group formed to take on established parties

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WITH local elections imminent a new political group has been launched to help Independent candidates stand and win seats from the main parties.

Westbury resident and community champion Dan Gmaj was inspired to form Independents for Wiltshire by the workings of Independents for Frome (IfF) which formed in 2011, gained a majority on Frome Town Council and has subsequently held all 17 seats since May 2015.

Dan told White Horse News, “Party politics is something that adds very little to the health and wellbeing of communities across Wiltshire, indeed it could be argued that nationally, communities should increasingly be coming together to build and support each other from a grassroots level.

“If you believe it is possible to replace argument and disagreement with healthy progressive debate towards a common aim to improve your area for the better then ‘Independents for Wiltshire’ can help realise your potential to help others, from as early as May 6th 2021 (local elections date).”

Dan said there are over 100 places in the UK where serious attempts have been made to independently fight elections as a group, of which around 20 have resulted in councils run on a fully independent grounding. 

“What makes these groups unique is that members agree on a set of values known as ‘ways of working’ that set out how they will listen to each other and  to ‘expert advice’ then make decisions,” he explained. “Key to this is that ‘experts’ means people who live in the community, so they place real engagement right at the heart of how they operate. That’s a big difference from many ‘independents’ at local councils who still take their lead from national party ideology.

“So, Independents for Wiltshire (IfW) is a way of working for local politics.  We’re not about parties or arguments or national issues. Candidates will be fielded from all backgrounds and with a range of different opinions. 

“What unites us and enables us to work together will be that we all care about one thing – what’s best for where we live!  A way to enable truly independent candidates to stand – and win – in the local elections across Wiltshire.”

Dan urged anyone who “strongly believes that local decisions should be made locally, by local people” to trust their feelings and reach out to like- minded others. 

“Grounded in tried and tested Independent Local Government models around the country, IfW have no interest in your personal politics or current party affiliation (if any), furthermore you only require to ‘be the change you wish to see’ in terms of experience,” he added. “Want change to come? Everything new has to have a starting point, and for Wiltshire, that time is now.”

To find out more let IfW know who you are and where in Wiltshire you live by emailing  independentwiltshire@gmail.com

The IfW group is following the lead of the Independents for Frome group which operates primarily at election times. 

“We’re not about parties or arguments or national issues,” says the IfF group on its website. “We field candidates from all backgrounds and with a range of different opinions. What unites us and enables us to work together is that we all care about one thing – what’s best for Frome.”

They say, “It’s a way to enable truly independent candidates to stand – and win – in the local elections in Frome. The councillors elected are then able to work without party political ideology to make the best decisions they can for the town without a ‘whip’ or formal leadership.”

One Response to New independent group formed to take on established parties

  1. Russell Hawker

    April 3, 2021 at 9:34 am

    There is an official Independent Group at Wiltshire Council already and it has existed for decades. I am a member of it, though I am standing down from my Westbury West division seat in May at the upcoming election (as announced previously).

    You would have to be a special type of person to propose setting up something that already exists and claim it will help elect Independents when actually it will obviously just cause confusion and mean that none of the new so-called Group’s candidayes would be elected.

    There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding going on about what a Group is. A council group is made up of elected councillors who come together to support themselves and take part in the committee seat allocation calculations at the council. By law, council committee seats are allocated proportionally to the size of OFFICIAL GROUPS.

    If you don’t have any elected members, you are not a GROUP.

    This proposal for a new Independant Group is a NON-STARTER. Any Independent candidate needs to talk to the current leader of the Wiltshire Council Independent Group, Cllr Ernie Clarke – a man who regularly gets the largest majority at elections for the whole council. He is based in Hilperton and his contact details are easily found by anyone with any intelligence.

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