Town council chair wades into row with MP as Dinnington by-election campaign kicks off

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The chair of Dinnington Town Council has waded into a row with his local MP over the upcoming by-election.

Dave Smith accused the area’s MP, Alexander Stafford, of “lying” and “misleading” people in the way he introduced the Conservative candidate’s contribution to the local community.

But Mr Stafford, has responded by accusing (town) council leader Cllr Smith of talking ‘nonsense’ by insinuating that only people who are actively involved in the town council can be considered as ‘working for the community’.

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Cllr Dave Smith claimed he was “disappointed in” Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford who had announced Julia Hall, the owner of Julz Boutique on Dinnington high street, as Tory candidate for the by-election on July 13.

Dinnington Town Council chair Dave SmithDinnington Town Council chair Dave Smith
Dinnington Town Council chair Dave Smith

In a post, Mr Stafford said: “I am so pleased to be able to personally endorse her as I know she is exactly who Dinnington, and Rother Valley, needs in the Town Hall.

“Julz has been a key player in all discussions around the regeneration of Dinnington market place and high street. Running her own business here in the town means she understands the challenges more than most.”

In a reaction piece, Cllr Smith said “I expect a degree of spin from our political parties, I don’t expect them to sink this low”.

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Cllr Dave Smith, the chair of the Dinnington Town Council, told the Local Democracy Service: “He (Mr Stafford) says ‘Julz has been a key player in all discussions around the regeneration of Dinnington Market Place and high street.’

Julia Hall and Alexander Stafford MPJulia Hall and Alexander Stafford MP
Julia Hall and Alexander Stafford MP

“That’s a blatant lie. She never had any part in that at all. She’s never been in any meeting to discuss it. I have. Two of the borough councillors were.

“I have a personal letter from the MP (Mr Stafford) thanking me for all the hard work that I have put in. “

He said it had been implied that Ms Hall could influence on how the £12m was spent, but added: “I am the chairman of the Town Council and (even) we can’t have an influence on it.

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“He is saying she (Julia) has been fighting for Dinnington for whatever length of time. No, she hasn’t. She’s never been to a borough council meeting and asked questions about Dinnington.

“It’s unfair to do it to her.

“I don’t have a problem with Julia. What I do have a problem with is I don’t like obfuscation; I don’t like lies.

“I’m disappointed in what he’s doing with this.”

Alexander Stafford said: “The Conservative Dinnington ward councillors and I have ensured that the local community, local businesses and the town council have been involved in the campaign to secure the £12m in funding, fighting against the top-down decision-making instinct of RMBC.

“I always praise the voluntary work of our parish councillors across Rother Valley, but there are many other people who also work hard for their community in different ways including in their daily work, business, charity involvement, carers or in a personal capacity.

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“Cllr Smith’s insinuation that only those that are actively involved in the town council can be considered as ‘working for the community’ is of course nonsense.

“At this election Dinnington needs a positive forward-looking person who is passionate about Dinnington and the future success of the high street. Anyone who knows Julz will know she has the energy, personality and business experience to deliver.”

Cllr Smith (Independent) stood for election in Dinnington in 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2021.

The by-election was called after a suspended (pending an internal investigation into attendance) Conservative ward member, Cllr Charlie Wooding had left town hall.

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The candidates have until June 16 to submit their nomination papers.

Residents in Dinnington ward have until midnight on June 27 to register to vote if they are not already on the electoral register and the deadline for new postal votes or to change or cancel existing postal and proxy votes is the day after, at 5pm on June 28.

The deadline for applying to vote by proxy is 5pm on July 5.