Wed, 25 Oct 2017
POLITICAL parties will not be banned from events in Thatcham, town councillors have declared.
Following comments made about presence of UKIP at the Thatcham Family Fun Day, Rob Denton-Powell (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) had asked whether political parties should be welcome at community events.
The issue was discussed at a recent meeting – once all councillors present declared an interest through their allegiance to a political party.
Town clerk Mel Alexander explained that the town council did not have a policy and there was no legal reason to prevent groups exhibiting.
But she added: “I do feel that the town council should have a policy.
“It will help officers deal with any inquiries that come in, but it would apply to all parties.”
Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) argued that it wasn’t for the town council to interfere with democracy in the town.
He said: “People join political parties to stand for election and for the friendship and social side as well.
“They work best when representing the views of the community.”
He added that local Lib Dems had held stalls at previous events, not only for promotion, but also to hold activities and offering sweets to children.
And, taking a dig at his political rivals, he added: “As the Conservatives are now the third largest political party they might want to have stalls to bring their membership back up.”
Mr Denton-Powell said: “I think they should be allowed, although I wouldn’t advocate bribery through sweets.”
“It’s a long-term programme,” said Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North).
Restating his call for debate, Mr Denton-Powell said: “My concern was we could end up with parties or
organisations that could cause offence and therefore I would be very keen to have a policy adopted by the town council.
“I think there are certain viewpoints that we just need to be careful with.
“It’s not the parties per se, it’s certain movements.
“It could be anti-semitic and we have to say that’s not acceptable.”
Mr Cole added: “If someone was to have a legitimate political party that advocated a policy that’s illegal, we would surely seek to exclude them.
“Such as the EDL,” said mayor Ellen Crumly.
“Or legalising cannabis,” Mr Denton-Powell sniped back at the Lib Dems.
“You could argue that all parties have lots of policies that are illegal because they want to get elected to make them law,” Mr Dillon replied.
He added that there was a process to forming a political party and restated that they should be allowed at events.
“I think we can trust the residents of Thatcham to understand what political parties have to offer,” he said.
“I think we just have to be brave and not stop them.”
However, the town council policy would not cover campaign groups.