“Silly woman” row former councillor makes controversial bid for Alderman status in Milton Keynes

Andy Dransfield
Andy Dransfield

A controversial former councillor who faced three meetings of a council standards committee for calling an opponent a “silly woman” is bidding for the honorary title of Alderman.

But Andy Dransfield, who served for 42 years at parish council level, for 15 years as a county councillor, and for 19 years on Milton Keynes Council, may be facing an uphill battle if the response from party leaders is anything to go by.

Mr Dransfield, 72, who stood down from Milton Keynes Council and Loughton and Great Holm Parish Council at May’s local elections, could struggle to get two thirds of the votes he needs at a special meeting of the borough council if the feedback from party leaders is indicative of the general mood among 57 councillors.

Mr Dransfield, a former Conservative group leader and Cabinet member, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he would not be surprised if he was voted down at the meeting next Wednesday (Sept 18).
“Just looking at the antics in the House of Commons, politics is becoming very tribal,” he said. “The title of Alderman should be an automatic thing.

“I am going to turn up and if it is not voted through I think it will be shame on those who are so politically correct. I have never lost my seat to a political opponent and this is just a ceremonial honour. It doesn’t give me a right to drive my sheep across town.”

Mr Dransfield who remains a governor of Denbigh School, and a trustee of his local leisure centre, spent most of his political career as a Conservative until he refused to pay a party levy on councillors.

His career has been a controversial one.

As far back as 2012 Mr Dransfield made a joke about bombing the Germans at a meeting. German-owned company RWE npower had threatened legal action over the council’s policy to keep the turbines as far as possible away from homes.

In 2016 he allegedly shook a black fireman’s hand and declared: “You’re the first one I’ve seen.” He claimed to be trying to be ‘positive and welcoming’.

In 2018, he was censured for saying a police officer should “still be at school” and that she should “go and do your homework”. He agreed to apologise to the officer.

Mr Dransfield faced three meetings of a council conduct committee after telling Labour councillor Zoe Nolan to “get a sense of humour, silly woman”.
Cllr Nolan is among those who will have the opportunity to vote at next week’s meeting.

Her group leader, and council leader Pete Marland, said: “The title of Alderman is the local government equivalent of an honour, and while Andy Dransfield certainly qualifies in terms of the time he spent on the council, there is a feeling that his behaviour went beyond the normal level, even at times unpleasant, of debate we have and went firmly into the unacceptable, particularly in his treatment of women.

“The MK Labour Group strongly believe that Andy Dransfield repeatedly brought his position and the council into disrepute, and that bestowing a local honour on him would be endorsing this behaviour and ignoring that it was unacceptable.

“While Milton Keynes Labour Group does not vote along party lines on these occasions, and is for each member to individually decide how to vote, however I would not be hugely surprised if Labour councillors opposed this award next week.”

And Lib Dem leader Cllr Douglas McCall said: “The Liberal Democrats will have a free vote, but there is clear evidence that a large number of councillors do not believe that Mr Dransfield is a suitable candidate for the honour of Alderman, and he will fall considerably short of the two thirds support required. It is our view that someone should not be invited to receive an award which is going to be voted down.”

And Conservative leader, Cllr Alex Walker, said: “It will be for each councillor to decide if they are content to support his Aldermanship.”

A spokesperson for MK Council confirmed that the qualification for the title Alderman is 15 years of service either with MK Council or Buckinghamshire County Council.

He added: “There will be a vote if there are any dissenters, as a resolution to confer the title of Honorary Alderman is required to be passed by not less than two-thirds of the members voting thereon, so of the councillors in the Chamber two-thirds must vote in favour.”