Parish Council Co-Opts New Member

Jude Milan

Hambledon Parish Council has co-opted Jude Milan to join its ranks after a very close-run selection process that saw three excellent candidates put their names forward.

A vacancy occurred following the retirement of John Anderson, who was a councillor for 38 years, the last 17 as chairman.

As no scheduled elections are due until May 2023, and there was no formal call for a by-election, the parish council was authorised to fill the vacancy by co-option and duly advertised the process in the parish magazine, on this website and on parish noticeboards.

The three candidates wrote, as requested, a brief submission and these were considered by the council at its meeting on September 7th. Councillors decided that all three were suited to the role and had excellent credentials. With little to choose between them, the council followed advice from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), the body that represents the interests of town and parish councils, and conducted individual, face-to-face informal interviews.

One candidate withdrew at this stage, leaving Jude Milan, from Paddock Close, and Graeme Guthrie from Warren Lane. Both were interviewed at the village hall on September 14th, and it was clear that both were keen to work in the best interest of the village and had previous experience in areas of life that ideally prepared them for the role.

Selecting one over the other remained difficult, so the council followed the advice of NALC which recommended that councillors should consider any shortfalls or imbalances in their membership when considering who to co-opt.

This tilted the scales in Jude’s favour.

Hambledon has many young families that have moved to the village in recent years, No one on the current parish council has young children and therefore no recent experience of dealing with nursery and junior school provision, child care, play facilities, and the many other issues affecting parents with young children. Jude and her husband moved to Hambledon five years ago and last year she had their first child.

The council felt Jude would add a missing dimension to the parish council that would be beneficial to many in our community and fulfilled part of the co-option criteria laid down by NALC.

Graeme was magnanimous, and has wished Jude well in her new role and has said he is happy to be considered again if another vacancy occurs.

Hambledon Parish Council is extremely grateful to all three candidates. Often, local councils struggle to co-opt and carry on with unfilled vacancies. Some even find themselves inquorate. It is a measure of our village’s community spirit that we had three excellent candidates and the council will remain at full strength.

Jude studied politics and public policy at university and then completed a local government graduate scheme before taking a job with Surrey County Council, working in a number of areas including adult and children’s services. She now works in mental health management at the Surrey and Borders NHS Partnership Foundation Trust.

She and her husband moved to Hambledon from Dorking in 2016, have a working cocker spaniel and their “lockdown” baby boy.

At her interview she said they loved living in Hambledon and being a part of community life. She volunteered behind the deli at the village shop before having her baby and participated in the Christmas village stars and the scarecrow competition.

She said she first saw the vacancy on the parish noticeboard opposite the Merry Harriers. “It set me thinking that this was something I could do”. When told of her co-option by parish council chairman Stewart Payne, she replied: “That’s great news and I’m really looking forward to working with you and the rest of the Councillors.

Subject to the usual legal formalities regarding a role in public office, Jude will be welcomed to the council at its next meeting on October 5th.

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