Trickle down … sleaze
As the May council elections loom in Derby, people linked to the local Tory party in Derwent ward have requested funds to support the Conservative party (apparently for litter picking equipment, according to Derwent Neighbourhood Board minutes we have seen, and reports in a local leaflet (picture 1). Those familiar with local politics know, of course, that going out litter picking is second only to pointing at potholes when it comes to election imagery. But parties should (and normally do) pay for their own equipment.
A source close to opposition councillors told Central Bylines that the request was made by the husband of the likely Conservative candidate for May’s elections. He, a Mr Adrian Collick, who posts on social media as Adrian Bear (see picture 2) has suggested Neighbourhood Board (NHB) funds given to local charities are used by councillors for their own purposes and that the organisations do not use them well (see Picture 3).
On his social media, Mr Collick/Bear has called for other organisations to apply for funds, while also suggesting there might “street parties”, in a nudge nudge, wink wink kind of way (Picture 4).
Has the rot at the heart of government also affected the local body politic? This appears to be a blatant attempt to divert money from an organisation on the frontline (see Central Bylines, December 2021) to support the local Conservative party.
When asked about this, Ged Potter, who describes himself as an officer of the Derbyshire Conservative Association and a Conservative Councillor, gave the following answer, an answer which mainly seems to avoid the question: “Firstly, could I just state for your information and understanding that Ward Councillors facilitate the NHB, the administrators of the NHB fund are the neighbourhood manager and neighbourhood officer who deal with the applications and funds, therefore this process adds to the openness and transparency and prevents accusations being made. If you are saying this is not happening in this ward then please give details that can be then passed onto the neighbourhood manager and the chairman of the board”.
He added “Furthermore, under the last Labour administration of this City, board funding and resources was removed from Conservative wards and given to Labour controlled wards. It was only after a Conservative administration was returned to power in the City did funding and resources return without fear or favour to all 17 wards.”.
However, the minutes of the most recent Derwent Neighbourhood Board meeting state “GC and AC requested public funding for litter picking equipment for use by a political party (The Conservative Party)”. GC is Gaynor Collick and AC Adrian Collick. Gaynor Collick is the named campaigner for Derwent Ward Team, which is run by the Conservative party (see pictures 5 and 7). We have gone back to state this to Mr Potter.
The screenshot of the local leaflet (see picture 1 above) refers to someone who is the husband of the possible May 2022 Tory candidate in this Derby ward. And Mr Collick claims money is being misused with no evidence, in what looks like blatant politicking.
The claim was also made on social media by Mr Collick (see picture 3 above). When asked, Mr Potter replied, “I refer to my answer to question 1, and if you are implying there are any such grounds then please supply details so matters can be investigated.”. We have supplied our screenshots to Mr Potter.
Populism or opportunism?
This is what Mr Bear, real name Collick, posted on local forums such as New Spotted Chaddesden (see picture 3 above and picture 6). The post seems to have been deleted but it was screenshotted by one of the people targeted. It seems to be defamation of sitting councillors without declaring their own relationship to candidates.
Our follow up questions related to the fact that Derwent Ward Team (part of Derby Conservatives – see picture 7) makes it clear that funding applications to the Derwent Neighbourhood Board have to be for charities in Derwent and must not be affiliated to political parties (see picture 5 above). But this contradicts the request made recorded in the minutes of Derwent Neighbourhood Board meeting of 14th October, 2021 described above.
GC and AC can be identified from the minutes as Gaynor and Adrian Collick. Gaynor Collick is a known Derwent Ward Team member and, as such, part of Derby Conservatives. We asked Mr Potter if he could explain why she was requesting funds from Derwent Neighbourhood Board to promote the Conservative party as this would seem to be against the rules and could be regarded as malpractice.
Mr Potter’s final comment was “Can I suggest you forward your enquiry to the Neighbourhood Officers who administer the board funding and would have been present at that meeting”.
Perhaps Sue Gray can pop up to Derby when she has a moment?