ELECTION COUNTDOWN: Our political staffer, BERTIE WORCESTER-PARK, on how the Tories have loaded their candidate lists for the Town Hall elections with their nearest and dearest
Residents of Sutton have heard a lot about “Better for Families” from the Tories. But whose families do the Tories have in mind?
Sutton Conservatives’ campaign slogan is “Unlocking Sutton’s Potential”, though a cursory look at the runners and riders for Thursday’s local elections suggests that the Tories’ priority is to unlock the potential of Sutton’s council allowances for their own families.
Following in the footsteps of former LibDem MP Paul Burstow of getting his wife, Mary, on to the council, Paul Scully, the current Tory MP for Sutton and Cheam, will doubtless be out delivering leaflets over the next 48 hours or so on behalf of Emma Scully, his wife, who is standing in Sutton North ward.
The Shields family, with existing Tory councillor, Tony (Sutton South), are even more ambitious, trying to get another two family members on to the council gravy train, with Vikki Shields (like Emma Scully, standing in Sutton North) and Millie Shields (The Wrythe).
In the last year of published figures (2016-2017) Tony Shields raked in £19,855 (£10,624 plus £9,231 “special responsibility allowance”) in taxpayer-funded wages for being an elected councillor. If elected, Vikki and Millie Shields, even as backbench councillors, could receive a minimum of £10,730 per year, each, in allowances.
Under the allowances system, Conservatives Eric Allen (Cheam) and his wife Martina (Nonsuch), would immediately net in excess of £21,000 basic. Another Tory duo, Hilary Wortley (Wallington South) and Chris Wortley (Wallington North), would pocket the same.
It is all very public spirited, of course.
But it does raise the question of why, out of an electorate of 140,000 people, the Tories have so many members of their own families standing for elected office. Indeed, the Conservatives appear to have struggled so much to find viable candidates across the borough that in Worcester Park, they resorted to putting up a candidate who is already a councillor on a different local authority.
The Conservatives go into the election with a grand total of eight councillors. If these Tories all get elected, then just four families will have eight out of 54 council seats between them.
It brings a whole new meaning to keeping it in the family.
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