an INDEPENDENT borough councillor who is standing again for election in the ward of Buckland Monachorum is urging people to look at the person rather than the political party when they come to vote on May 4.

Ric Cheadle, who was leader of the West Devon Alliance — a coalition of Independents and Greens — on WDBC over the past four years, said the achievements were very much down to all councillors, not just the Tory majority. He said the hub system ensured the political balance of the council was representing fairly. Independent Mandy Ewings chaired the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which calls council decisions to account, while Independent Tony Leech spearheaded the council’s Covid and Cost of Living Crisis response, said Mr Cheadle. Meanwhile, Green councillor Lynn Daniel was lead councillor for the natural environment.

Cllr Cheadle worked with Conservative leader Neil Jory as head of the West Devon Alliance. ‘No one group has achieved anything; we prosper only because the council as a whole achieves its objective,’ he said.

‘One of the principal reasons the council ‘works’ so well — unlike some others I could mention — is that the leaders work hard to ensure the whole council acts as a team regardless of political ‘stripe’. In fact, it is only on rare occasions, when someone wants to make a political point, that the council paints itself in an unhelpful light. Dominance by one party, whatever its ‘colour’, runs the risk of imbalance, of squeezing out ‘not invented here’ ideas and imposing ‘group think’. Fortunately, the Alliance Group of Independents, Greens and Lib Dems helps to maintain that balance. Borough councils do not ‘do’ politics and when they try, it invariably ends in tears. No mainstream political party has a view on how garden waste collections are managed or whether a particular planning application should be accepted. These are local decisions best made by those who have a genuine desire to do as much as they possibly can to understand and respond to the needs of their local communities.

‘So when you come to vote in the forthcoming election on May 4, ask yourself which of the candidates on the ballot paper is most able to help those in your community. How well do they know what’s going on? Are they on the parish or town council? Do they live in the community they seek to represent? These are the questions that matter.

‘I’m proud of what the council has achieved, particularly throughout the difficult ‘Covid years’ and now as we manage through the cost of living crisis. Proud of the efforts of all councillors who have played their part. And, fortunately, it hasn’t made a scrap of difference which group they happen to have been in. All that has mattered is that they cared and were prepared to do something about it. They’re the ones who deserve your support.’

See our websites for details of election candidates over the coming days