Back in the 2014 election campaign, I remarked that the Independent candidate for St Luke’s, Caroline Endersby, had not said much at all throughout her campaign. Her one campaign point seemed to be the slightly League of Gentlemen-esque slogan “Local Politics for Local People” (There’s nothing for you here… -Ed).
Now that she is Cllr Endersby, it could be argued that despite the fact that she has yet to utter a word in a council meeting, nor make much of a visible impact at all since her election, she hasn’t breached any of her pledges because she didn’t actually make any.
I don’t, actually, think that being the Council mute makes for a good councillor. It may well be that she is extremely busy with ward business, but I actually know a fair few people living in St Luke’s, and whilst most can name Paul Van Looy, and some can name Brian Ayling (Though not necessarily in a flattering context -Ed), I have yet to find anyone who responds to “What about Cllr Endersby?” with anything but “Who?”
Cllr Endersby did, though, make one statement which could charitably be called a promise. She sold herself as the “local” candidate. One can debate, generally, what “local” means, but the meaning here was clear: that she lived in the ward. Except, it seems, she does not any longer.
When a candidate is nominated for an election, they are nominated under a particular address, which becomes a matter of public record. I include below Cllr Endersby’s entry from the statement of nominated persons for St Luke’s ward in 2014. The house number is blurred, out of respect, but if anyone has a burning desire to know it, it is public record, as I say.
So, imagine my surprise when in the course of delivering the latest Blenheim Park Voice (And, St Luke’s residents, when was the last time you received a leaflet from your Independent councillors? -Ed) , I encountered a house with two letterboxes. One was very clearly labelled “Cllr Endersby”. Now, I thought I knew which councillors and regular candidates lived in Blenheim Park, and Cllr Endersby was not on that list.
The Council website, which also lists councillors’ addresses as a matter of public record, seems to confirm the situation:
Now, I have no problem with a councillor living outside the ward they represent, nor a candidate standing for election in ward that they do not live in. It is possible to care about and represent an area in which for whatever reason you yourself do not live. That is not what this is about.
Rather, when your election campaign hinges upon your residence in the ward, as pretty much the sole reason why electors should choose you, then your quietly moving out of the ward once you have won the seat (And it is little more than a year, now, following Cllr Endersby’s election -Ed) it smacks a little of pledge breaking.
Certainly, at the very least, residents should be made aware that their “local” councillor is no longer anything of the sort.