Full Council meetings don’t usually mean a massive turnout, but last night a full suite of Lib Dems attended what they had previously described as their Lib Dem “controlled” council. The reason? There was a vote happening to appoint a new councillor.

I’m not a political person myself, but take an interest in local issues, so had gone along to listen to the candidates.

Four candidates each gave a 3-minute speech on why they should be chosen, and then councillors were to vote on who put forward the best case - or at least that’s the way it should work.

One candidate exceptionally stood out, Caroline Bennett (Independent). After her 3 minutes, it was clear that her previous experience was unparalleled, the same with her current dedication to the community through her roles as a trustee and volunteer at the Food Larder, a director of the Larruperz, and her place on the Tourism Committee.

However (surprise, surprise?) one candidate out of the four was a Lib Dem, 10 Lib Dems were voting and 10 votes went for the Lib Dem candidate. The candidate, James Vidler had used his 3 minutes to talk about the history of his own businesses then wrapped up by singing the praises of what he thought were historic Lib Dem achievements. Note that Mr Vidler had stood for council in 2019 and 2023 and failed both times.

Why can’t the Lib Dem’s see past their own “control” and have the best people on the Town Council? Why can’t they be transparent? Lib Dem Cllr Ed O’Driscoll, just before the vote took place, stopped proceedings to propose there not be a hands-in-the-air vote as there had been in the past, but to have a secret ballot instead, ensuring that nobody could see who was voting for who.

Were the Lib Dems rallied to turn up to this meeting to vote for their own candidate, to ensure no non-Lib Dem got in? It would certainly seem so. Local Lib Dem ‘leader’ Chris Bartrum clearly knew they’d all be there and he had pre-prepared. Immediately afterwards, he took the opportunity to coordinate a photo opportunity of them all holding the car full of Lib Dem plaquards he’d brought with him. Perhaps some of these councillors could turn up for other meetings which are in the interests of the town, rather than reserving their appearances for ones that exercise or further Lib Dem “control”?

In pursuit of furthering this “control”, the local Lib Dems are alienating independent minded people who are the ones contributing the most in the community. It is as disgraceful as it is sad. Where’s the spirit of collaboration? Two other candidates also put forward their cases but clearly had no chance whatsoever.

Is it any wonder so many people are disillusioned by so many aspects of Ross Town Council?

Perhaps if the Lib Dems are to counter this letter then they like to explain how they think the Town Council is in healthy shape – it isn’t. The very worst of partisanship and control is on display, failing to work with those who really care about the town. Plus, as we have also seen, taking credit for work not spearheaded by the Lib Dems at all.

Mark Finning, Ross-on-Wye