Labour Councillors Appalled by CEO Offer to Spin Facts

Today the Labour Cllr M. Ali has written to Peter Briant, Woking Borough Council’s Compliance Officer and Chief Solicitor, demanding that a formal investigation is undertaken following the comments made by Ray Morgan, Woking Borough Councils’s CEO and Returning Officer, in a recently published email.

Woking Labour (CLP) fully supports the call by Cllr Ali and echo’s his shock and distress at the apparent bias shown towards the Conservative Party by Mr Morgan. We are equally appalled by the derogatory tone that the CEO uses when referring to a member of the public for simply exercising her democratic right to question the escalating Tory spending in the town.

Cllr M. Ali says –

I am appalled to see that the CEO and Returning Officer Ray Morgan is apparently unable to remain neutral. Clearly, he has strong opinions against some candidates and even members of the public. It seems to me he has forgotten that we live in a democracy where we represent the will of the public and the CEO must implement that will without bias. I also find the fact that Mr Morgan used such a demeaning tone towards a resident really disconcerting.

I hope the leader of the council, Cllr Bittleston will take this as seriously as it deserves. The email does not implicate him so I hope he will take this opportunity to stand up for the public he represents. This is not the first time that the Ray Morgan has stepped outside his role. Mr Morgan has previously spent significant amounts of Council funds without the Council’s permission showing total disregard for the public and their representatives. That issue was never satisfactorily resolved, I hope that this time the Conservatives have the moral courage to do the right thing and call for an investigation into Mr Morgans comments.”

Please find the full text of the letter sent to Peter Briant below.

Mr P Briant
Woking Borough Council
Civic Offices
Gloucester Square
GU21 6YL

Dear Mr Briant,

In an email recently published in a local paper the Chief Executive Officer, Ray Morgan, makes statements which warrant immediate formal investigation. We are very concerned by both the tone and content of the
message sent to the Conservative Leader, David Bittleston. It is disconcerting and disappointing to note the tone of the comments relating to a Woking Constituent, whose best interest the authority is supposed to
serve. I call for an immediate investigation of the following points:

1. Mr Morgans offer to spin the facts for Conservative gain
In the email, the CEO offers a ‘positive explanation’ of the council’s actions for use ‘politically in election material’. Mr Morgan in his role as CEO and Returning Officer (RO) is required to remain politically neutral.
This requirement has clearly been breached as this email reads more like that of a Tory spin doctor than a senior council official. It is the CEO’s responsibility to provide undoctored information, not manipulate the
facts and Mr Morgans seeming willingness to do so is hugely concerning.

2. Apparent political bias
The CEO’s comment relating to former candidate and member of UKIP, Mr Shatwell, clearly indicates a personal bias and political opinion. As the RO Mr Morgan should not be expressing such views about political candidates. His role requires that he remain neutral and to conduct free, fair and impartial elections.

3. Disrespectful and dismissive attitude towards a constituent
Mr Morgan’s comment that the constituent who wrote the original email ‘will not go away’ shows a shocking lack of respect for members of the public whose opinions appear to be contrary to Mr Morgans own. In a democratic society, we value diverse opinions, welcome discussion and debate, and do not disparage members of public for expressing their point of view. The Victoria Square development which sparked this email exchange remains a source of huge concern with even members of council questioning the vast sums of public money pouring into the project. The
constituent that raised their concerns regarding this had a democratic right to do so, without facing disrespectful comments from the CEO.

This is not the first instance of Mr Morgan using derogatory and demeaning language towards a member of the public but I sincerely hope that it will be the last. The residents of Woking and the position of CEO both deserve far greater respect than Mr Morgan is showing them a present.

I await your response.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr M. Ali


Woking Labour AGM and Curry Night

The Woking Labour AGM and Curry Night takes place on Wednesday, February 21st from 7.00pm in the new Labour HQ, 11 High Street, Woking.

Join us at the AGM and help us to ensure we elect a strong Executive Committee team to fight for our candidates in the Borough Elections on May 3rd!

Dinner will be served at 7.00pm before the meeting. We are looking forward to the delicious curry with a fresh fruit dessert! Tickets are only £10 each. The AGM will start after the meal at 8.15pm and will finish at 9.30pm.

For tickets please email for our Unity Trust Bank account details. Please be sure to give a phone number for confirmation of payment. Alternatively, you can send a cheque to ‘Woking Labour Party’, Moor End, Horsell Rise, GU21 4BD.

Tickets are on sale until February 19th

Keir Starmer to speak at Labour Party Christmas Dinner

Surrey Labour Party and Woking Labour Party are joining forces in December for a Christmas dinner with Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer MP.

The dinner takes place on December 7, 2017 at one of our favourite local venues, the Cricketers pub (below) in Horsell, Woking. We enjoyed a great evening there in January this year when RMT General Secretary Mick Cash spoke at Woking Labour’s New Year Dinner.

Tickets cost £27.50 per head and are limited to 80 diners, allocated on a first-come first-served basis. Interest is already high, so to make sure of a seat you need to get your application in soon.

More details about the event, including menu choices (PDF)
Keir Starmer bio

Help build the Labour vote in Woking

Canvassing begins in September on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month (except December) to help boost local support for Labour. The programme starts on September 9th: there will be two sessions a day, from 10.30-12.30 and 2.00–4.00, aiming to get in as many brief (but usually pleasant!) chats with residents as we can. You can go with someone who knows the ropes and pick up some very useful experience in raising the Labour vote in our key seats ready for the Borough elections in May.
Don’t forget: it is what we do in between elections that will win us more councillors. Just call Alex Wilks on 07872 947289 at least a couple of days beforehand with your availability, and please leave your name and number for details of where and when to meet.

Nigel Beard

It is with sadness that we have to report that Nigel Beard has died after some years in a nursing home. Nigel was a longstanding member of ours and came to local events with Jennie whenever they could. He had been the MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and lived in Pyrford.
Nigel was a staunch defender of standards in the party and quick to comment whenever we looked like going off the rails, and both he and Jennie often signed nominations for our candidates too. He will be greatly missed.

Election results show Labour progress in Woking

Fiona at Woking Station

In the June 8th General Election, our Parliamentary candidate Fiona Colley significantly raised the Labour share of the vote in Woking, from 16% to 23.8%. We would like to thank her for her consistent and cheerful leadership during the campaign and for her clarity of contributions and ready responses at the hustings on June 1st at the HG Wells Conference Centre.

The count also took place at the HG Wells, and while we fortified ourselves at the bar swapping news about the exit polls the boxes began to arrive from the polling stations at 10.15pm. The exit polls were showing Labour much higher than expected against the Tories and turned out later to be uncannily accurate.

The Conservative Jonathan Lord came in with 29,903 (29,199 in 2015), Fiona second with 13,179 (the Labour share was just 8,389 in ’15), Lib Dem’s Will Forster 9,711 (6,047), Ukip 1,161 (5,873), and the others far behind. The turnout was 72%, with young voter turnout massively greater than before. If more young voters understood how their votes can influence the policy-makers on issues affecting them they would make sure they got registered and voted. The count finished at around 4am, more like the old days when the count always took place on the same day as the vote, and finished in the wee small hours with the sky getting light and the birds waking up.

In spite of the short notice given of the election we managed to have canvassing on several Saturday mornings and afternoons, on Sunday afternoons and, in the last two weeks, nightly canvassing from 6.30 until the light was fading. Our Newsflashes and social media produced a higher level of new support than in previous years, and new and old supporters also offered to help with leaflet deliveries. Four members also went over last Friday to canvass in Slough and three to Brentford and Isleworth for the Get-Out-The-Vote on polling day as both were marginals. Both were won comfortably by Labour.

On the campaign trail: (l to r) Hassan Shah, Fiona Colley, Patrick Lonergan, Chris Martin, Liz Evans
Looking ahead to the 2018 borough elections next May, this result gives Labour a good platform for raising our vote. Jeremy Corbyn has confounded the critics and much of the uncertainty we met on the doorstep will have gone. We found a great deal of support for Labour values and the Labour manifesto and if more of the Labour parliamentary party can support Corbyn now, the vote should rise even further in Woking. We need our members and supporters to give more help with canvassing, delivering, street stalls and demos around the local issues we are working on.

Join in with the debates at our meetings every month (except August). Street stalls will be running on Saturdays from 11–2 in the town centre and we need your help. Canvassing will be stepped up from September onwards and is the best way to win votes. It is enjoyable and not difficult at all so long as you like people! Don’t stop now. Let this election be the template from now on and keep the momentum going. All dates and details will be on the Newsflashes, website and social media – so just turn up.

Woking Labour moves out

We have now moved out of our Woking offices and meeting hall behind the station. Owen House, Heathside Crescent, our home for almost half a century, is now going to be demolished, after which the site will become part of the St Dunstan’s redevelopment. Equipment and furniture has been stored in three places temporarily until a permanent home can be found. Thanks go to Tom, Sabir, Sharaz, Liz, Ilyas and Paul who boxed up and carried everything out. The old lady will be missed.

Continue reading “Woking Labour moves out”

Disappointing result in SCC election

In one of the hardest fought campaigns in recent memory, our candidate for Woking North in the Surrey County Council election, Mohammed Sakhawat Khan, gained 1666 votes but lost by 247. The seat was one of many potential Labour seats lost across the country, an outcome mainly of the UKIP vote merging with the Tory vote.

Thank you to Sakhawat for leading from the front so well, and also to our other stalwart candidates in the seven County seats.

Labour Conference

The annual Labour Party Conference takes place this year in Brighton from September 24th-27th. Papers can be downloaded from the National Policy Forum web page.

If you would like to be the Conference 2017 delegate for Woking CLP please contact our Chair, Sabir Hussain, on 07887 553716 as soon as possible. The closing date is June 23rd. The conference fee is free and some contribution towards accommodation can be made from constituency funds. It is advisable to find somewhere to stay early as the best cheap ones go quickly. Lists can be obtained from the Conference Arrangements Committee.

May 4th is Election Day

May 4th is Election Day. Don’t forget to vote for your Labour Surrey County Councillor – there are seven candidates, one for each of the seven Woking divisions. Polls open 7am–10pm.

The committee room will be open from 11.00am at Owen House on May 4th and continue until 9.45pm. The Get-Out-The-Vote begins at 11.30am so if you can make the early shift please collect a list of Labour supporters to be knocked up in good time before that and have a coffee before you go. Hot refreshments will arrive at 1.00pm for when the first wave gets back. We continue to collect slips until close of play at 9.45pm.

If you would like to come to the verification of the votes and count at H.G Wells on Friday May 5th (10am–3pm approx) you can attend as a counting agent. If there are more than 5 people coming for Woking North they can be listed as coming for another Woking division so theoretically there could be 34 people supporting him. Let’s have a good turn-out.

All current Woking Borough Councillors and Surrey County Councillors will be invited to attend individually, and therefore do not need to be included in our counting agent allocations.

Our Election Agent Liz Evans needs to know the names and addresses of all the counting agents each candidate would like to appoint by Tuesday 25th April at the latest, so that the proper accreditation can be sent out: agents will not be admitted to the count without it. Please email details to her ASAP at so that they can be forwarded to WBC by the deadline of 5pm on April 26th.

Please note there are no meetings in April. Come and join us on the campaign trail instead! Call the elections hotline on 07906 697180.