AN OFFICIAL council video encouraging residents to stand in the upcoming election has been branded a promotional advert for the Malvern Conservative party.
The three-minute video called Becoming a Councillor was posted on Malvern Hills District Council’s YouTube channel last week and has been viewed more than 250 times so far.
Council leader David Hughes, who narrates most of it, said: “The 2015 elections in May include not just a general election, but also district and parish/town elections on the same day.
“It is even more important therefore that we encourage people to come forward to stand to ensure there is good representation throughout our communities.
“We hope that this slightly different approach of seeing and hearing some of the existing councillors talk of their experiences will provide anybody considering standing with a little more encouragement than can be achieved by the printed word alone.”
Councillors Julian Roskams and Tom Wells, leaders of the council’s Democratic and Liberal Democratic groups respectively, were asked to contribute but declined.
Coun Roskams said: “It would have been difficult for our group members to take part in a video that essentially celebrates the decisions that have been taken by the council in certain key areas such as waste collection, privatisation of revenues and benefits and the shared chief executive, when we opposed those decisions.”
He also said the choice of councillors who appear on the video was ‘incredible’ given the fact Coun Hughes currently has a controversial bid to build on his farm pending, Coun Roger Cousins has already gained planning permission on his land to the dismay of hundreds of Welland residents and Coun Barbara Williams’ partner has also successfully gained approval for housing on his land.
“Residents who have been fiercely opposing the unpopular developments brought forward by sitting councillors will find the choice of those chosen by the Tory administration to front a video promoting the value of becoming a councillor as, at best, somewhat ironic,” he added.
But Jack Hegarty, chief executive of the council, rejected claims the video was political.
“Councillors from all groups were asked to take part in the videos on our website which are there to encourage others to stand in the upcoming elections,” he said.
“Opposition groups declined to take part. There is no political content in the videos they are simply there to give prospective candidates a flavour of what it’s like to be a councillor and encourage them to stand.”