Archive for January 2021

Personal Statement by Trowbridge Town Councillor, David Cavill FRSA

January 19, 2021

I have never been ambitious for political power but I enjoy putting forward useful ideas and suggestions to the decision making process. I have been influential through my voluntary work as chairman and committee member of various groups, my eleven years as Deputy to the Director General of the Dogs Home, Battersea, and my articles and books. I hope I have also been helpful and positive in my role as a councillor for Trowbridge Town Council. I joined the Conservative Party in the early 1980s and my membership lapsed when I was unable to be involved in politics for several years. My political philosophy has always been pragmatic rather than ideological and I rejoined to vote in favour of Teresa May as Leader.

I have been a teacher and lecturer for most of my working life and my objective as a councillor is to try and deliver to what is best for my community in the same way as I always tried to ensure the best for the young people for whom I was responsible in schools and colleges.

I became involved in our County town because I was asked to stand by the then leader of the Conservative Group, Peter Fuller. I was not especially keen to do so at that time but I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement and the feeling that I am useful to the community.

At the Drynham by-election which was called at the beginning of 2020, I and others who felt that the young should be provided with every opportunity to learn and develop their political skills and knowledge, supported the current leader of the Conservative Group on Trowbridge Town Council. I was very pleased to campaign for him and was delighted when he was elected to the council and subsequently to the leadership of the Conservative Group.

Unfortunately, his political behaviour since his election gave cause for concern and despite every effort being made by me and other conservative colleagues to help him express himself more rationally and effectively, he continued to misunderstand Council codes of practice and behavioural protocols, mislead the public, through inflammatory, aggressive and inaccurate statements, and on several occasions criticised council employees for carrying out the legitimate decisions and policy directed by councillors. Challenge is rightly an integral element of political ‘rough and tumble’: I have no problem with that but his approach on social media, to the press and in council although sometimes sensible and innovative, has all too often been outside acceptable debate and criticism.

Eventually, I and two other Conservative councillors took the decision to step back from the Conservative Group because we did not feel comfortable with the views being expressed and the behaviour of its leader. I do not speak for Peter Fuller and Diana King or for Geoff Whiffen who resigned from the Conservative party on the current Leader’s election as Conservative Group Leader, but I am confident that although they ‘stepped back’ from his leadership (as they are entitled to do) they retain their conservative values.

When our decision was formally announced, we were reported to South West Wiltshire Conservative Association as having ‘broken the rules and conventions of the Conservative Party’ and were almost immediately notified that we were suspended pending an investigation. Our view was that no rules were broken and we waited confidently for an investigation which would show that this was the case.

No such investigation took place despite our providing extensive evidence of the reasons for our decision and we were eventually told that we had been expelled from the party.

We were informed we could appeal. We did so on the grounds that the procedures followed by the local Association were flawed in a number respects: the process did not comply with the party’s own rules for suspension and expulsion, no opportunity was given to us to explain the reasons for our decision (we did try, incidentally, but our attempts were stone-walled), no formal investigation of our concerns was instigated and the conventions of ‘natural justice’ were ignored.

I have nothing but praise for the way in which our appeal was handled by Conservative Central Office: it was absolutely ‘by the book’. The conclusions have just been published and I am pleased that our appeal was upheld in every respect. The whole appeal document is available at https://docdro.id/fPmpLty and this statement on my WordPress page: www.davidcavill.wordpress.com.

However, for me, some of the political decisions of the Conservative party over the last five years but, more importantly, the behaviour of some of my colleagues and particularly the local association (who have made no effort to get in touch and attempt to build bridges), have permanently damaged my confidence in the party. Added to this, although I accept the result of the Brexit vote, I was always a committed European and have concluded that I will feel more comfortable outside the Conservative party. I also believe that if I want to continue to help and develop the environment of Trowbridge, Wiltshire and the well-being of its residents I would like to continue to make a difference. I have therefore taken the decision to formally join my friends in the Liberal Democrats – although of course I hope to continue to work effectively with all my fellow councillors if elected at the next scheduled elections.

It you have been – thank you for reading.

David Cavill

Mail@davidcavill.co.uk

07860 591 881