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In the Press
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Something rotten in Reading
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Election Candidates 2012
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Jamie to stand as an Independent
Tory Vandetta against Jamie Chowdhary
Jamie  announces resignation at Council
Jamie Chowdhary: "I owe my life to Royal Berks" (Cancer Appeal)
Tories threaten Jamie and Mark to shut down this website!
Council IT 'just not acceptable' says Jamie
Council IT Concerns presented to Cabinet by Jamie Chowdhary
Tory councillor saddened by 'very dirty business of politics'
Sort out the Shinfield road lights says Jamie
Tories threaten to axe Mark Ralph!
Tories dump Jamie
Councillor axed in Tory power struggle
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In the Council

Council IT 'just not acceptable' says Jamie Chowdhary
Have you got a problem with a service in our Ward? Please tell us ...

Alok Sharma's Website
Reading's only useful MP!



Why Jamie was deselected by RECA!

Dear Resident,

While most of you are aware that I am standing as an Independent Candidate in the 3rd May elections, a number of you are still asking me ‘why?’

It has been a privilege and pleasure to serve the people of Peppard Ward since my election as your Conservative Councillor in 2008. In contrast, dealing with the corrosive and destructive politics of those within Reading East Conservative Association (RECA) has wasted a considerable amount of time and can only have detracted from our efforts on behalf of our residents.

It is my personal philosophy to always look forward, identifying new areas of potential and realising the opportunities they represent. I have never worked in an environment where 60% of time is spent countering attacks from colleagues and those you expect to be on your side. In looking forward to serving residents better as an Independent, with Mark Ralph, we seem to have left some important questions unanswered.

My deselection in 2011, without a single resident or Council Officer complaint against me was followed by what is best likened to a vendetta: smears on my character, a series of bizarre and unsubstantiated allegations, including two to the Police – both dismissed by the Police as offering no case to answer but, potentially jeopardising my position on the Thames Valley Police Board, impacting my business dealings with major UK, US and other security services and giving credence to various other unsubstantiated allegations.

I therefore resigned from the Conservative Party and initiated legal action against RECA.

In the course of our travels around Peppard Ward, Mark and I have been asked a number of questions. These are listed below, with our answers. I hope this will clarify matters but for those who are interested

Jamie Chowdhary

Questions Answered

“So who’s controlling Reading East Conservative Association (RECA)?”
“Why was Jamie deselected?”
"Why did RECA try to defame Jamie?"
“I’ve heard that Jamie has been ill. Is he up to it healthwise?”
“I’ve always voted Conservative. Why should I vote for Jamie?”
“What makes you different from other candidates?”
“Will you be able to have in impact on Council policy?
“How are you going to function as an Independent without the Party’s support?”
“Has Mark Ralph resigned as a Councillor?”
“A number of people are claiming to have ‘sorted out’ the problems with Budgens car park and footpath. Who is really responsible?”

Q: “So who’s controlling Reading East Conservative Association (RECA)?”

A: Despite the lack of formal roles as Officers of the Association in some cases, RECA is controlled by a small group of people: Alison Swaddle (Chairman, wife of ex-Chairman Paul Swaddle and personal friend of Rob Wilson MP since all attended University together); Richard Willis (ex-Chief of Staff to Rob Wilson MP, ex-Chairman of RECA, ex-Deputy Chairman, ex-Candidates’ Agent and Campaign Director for 2012); Paul Swaddle (current Party Board Member, current Member RECA, ex-Chairman RECA, husband of Alison Swaddle, Chairman, and close friend and alleged business associate of Rob Wilson MP); Rob Wilson MP for Reading East (close friend of the Swaddles since all attended Reading University and alleged business associate of Paul Swaddle.

There are a number of second tier members who tend to be officers of the Association but these come and go, when they have outlived their usefulness or become disenchanted with the Association.

One of these was Andrew Waters (Deputy Chairman RECA), nominated by Alison Swaddle for election as Chairman of the small Peppard Committee on his first attendance, elected at his second and presided over Jamie’s deselection at his third – in such a partisan way that all bona fide resident members not associated with RECA operations in some way have now resigned from RECA. Following a report by the CCHQ Inquiry Panel, Mr Waters has also resigned.

Q: “Why was Jamie deselected?”

A: Here are the main reasons why RECA put together a plan and carried out Jamie's deselection:

  1. Rob Wilson and his friends Alison and Paul Swaddle and Richard Willis cultivate individuals that will support them – to strengthen their control of the Association, achieve the election of Richard Willis as Conservative Group Leader on the Council or to adopt or support policies or people that Rob Wilson has an interest in.

  2. Jamie was invited to stand for election by Rob Wilson but, declined any role within RECA, wanting to focus on service to his electorate.

  3. He subsequently declined to influence the Conservative Administration of the Council in line with Rob Wilson’s interests due to adverse impacts on the public purse.

  4. There appears to have been strong resentment of Jamie’s support for Reading West Conservatives.

  5. Since they regarded Jamie as "their property", RECA did not appreciate Jamie's support for the previous leader, Cllr Andrew Cumpsty and later, the support for the deputy leadership of Cllr Jeanette Skeats.

Whatever the ultimate reason for Jamie’s deselection it is believed that Rob Wilson, the Swaddles and Richard Willis were closely involved.

Q: "Why did RECA try to defame Jamie?"

A: Following Jamie's deselection, RECA had not anticipated the public anger and outcry that resulted. Many members and residents wrote to The Prime Minister, The Conservative Chairmen, Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) and RECA asking them why.

One bizarre answer RECA still gives out is that Jamie had not been deselected but 'had not been selected'!!. It is unprecedented for a good Councillor to be deselected and it is understood that there has been only instance of this happening before in Reading East - and that was in the case of a Councillor that we are told had generated a number of complaints against himself from his electorate. Since his election in 2008, Jamie has not incurred one, from his residents or Council Officers.

Sadly while the many letters from residents complaining about Jamie's treatment were well intentioned, RECA began a whispering campaign in justification of their action, against Jamie which comprised a series of bizarre and unsubstantiated allegations, including two to the Police – both dismissed by the Police as offering no case to answer.

This was to significantly misjudge the impact of their actions and  public outcry and the subsequent bad publicity which followed in the press:

Reading Post:
Reading Tories dump Councillor Jamie Chowdhary
The dirty business of politics

Reading East Tories vote to axe another councillor
Andrew Cumpsty steps down as Conservative leader
East Reading Tory spared the axe

Reading Chronicle:
Councillor axed in Tory power struggle
Tory in-fighting threatens Ralph
'Blogger off', gossip is ordered
Nominations secrecy for Tory leader vote
Move to axe popular councillor is put on hold
Reading Tory leader quits
Tory squabble continues as opposition leader quits

This series of events led to the resignation of a number of Members and Councillors, the withholding of financial contributions and the transfer of others to Reading West.

Jamie was then invited by Reading West Conservative Association (RWCA) to put his name forward as a potential candidate for Reading West.

Five minutes before his interview the first of a series of allegations were made, that he was about to be thrown out of the Conservative Party. Over the ensuing five days, additional allegations were made:

  • That Jamie had made homophobic comments about Richard Willis - untrue!

  • That Jamie was about to be arrested by Thames Valley Police for alleged comments  - untrue!

  • Jamie was about to be arrested, for the same reason, by the Metropolitan Police - untrue!

  • That Police were about to break Jamie's door down and arrest him - untrue!

All of the above to deter RWCA first from interviewing Jamie and second from selecting him as a Reading West Candidate, despite the selection panels agreement that Jamie was the best and the most experienced candidate to be interviewed on the 19th September.

In light of these events, Jamie withdrew his application - and has since instigated legal proceedings as a result.

Q: “I’ve heard that Jamie has been ill. Is he up to it healthwise?”

A: Jamie was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He had three operations and three bouts of chemotherapy. In addition to running his Company, he attended every important meeting of the Council and Police Board and managed all of his correspondence with residents, despite this.

Mark Ralph says: “Since Jamie’s election in 2008, he has worked incredibly hard and he is a first rate Councillor. In my view, it should be his call whether he feels well enough to stand for a second term. I will do my utmost to ensure that with the support of the electorate, he has the opportunity to do so. You are not looking at one Councillor in isolation, we work very well together and will ensure that we are an effective and strong team, protecting the interests of our residents and Ward.”

Q: “I’ve always voted Conservative. Why should I vote for Jamie?”

A: Jamie has been a Conservative for all of his adult life and retains those core values. As an Independent he will be free of the time consuming and destructive in-fighting from RECA and able to commit 100% of his time to the defence of Peppard Ward residents’ interests.

Currently, when all parties are endorsing some questionable policies such as penalising the elderly who have worked hard all of their lives and saved for their old age, Independent status will enable robust challenges to such measures.

Q: “What makes you different from other candidates?”

A: The Party machine has led to extremes of policy and is in part responsible for the profligate spending of the last Labour Government. Jamie is a successful businessman with a track record of Community initiatives before he became a Councillor and a true social conscience.

That he has weathered the punitive, anti-business policies of the past governments and developed his Company in the face of this, demonstrates that he can also bring important commercial expertise to bear on Labour’s propensity to borrow beyond affordability, and do only what is right.

Q: “Will you be able to have in impact on Council policy?

A: Absolutely, yes. We can draw media attention to issues impacting the Ward and Town and, subject to numbers after the election, two Independents may hold the balance, in the same way that the two Greens allowed Labour to regain Control of the Council last year through tactical use of their vote.

At Ward level, effective support of residents comes down to assiduous hard work and we can assure you that we shall be able to look after your interests as well, or better, than any Councillor constrained by Party policies.

Q: “How are you going to function as an Independent without the Party’s support?”

A: There are certainly benefits to teamwork and we are delighted that we recruited the support of a dozen helpers in as many days following announcement of our intention to stand as Independents - some, converts from the Conservative Party network. The freedom to operate without RECA in-fighting is a positive advantage and will not be missed.

Q: “Has Mark Ralph resigned as a Councillor?”

A: No, Mark will remain a Councillor for Peppard Ward until the end of his term in 2014. He has resigned from the Conservative Party in order to support Jamie and to free himself from the in-fighting within Reading East Conservative Association.

Both Jamie and Mark expect ‘Independence’ to enable them to serve the Community a great deal better. With your support he will stand again in 2014.

Q: “A number of people are claiming to have ‘sorted out’ the problems with Budgens car park and footpath. Who is really responsible?”

(See also: Budgens Tidy Up, Budgens Precinct and Budgens Result!)

A: It is true that all three Ward Councillors have been in direct contact with the landlord , Wolfe Properties, at different times and via the Council but the state of the car park and footpath at Budgens has continued to deteriorate.

However, on 9 May 2011, Mark Ralph and Jamie Chowdhary met with the landlord’s representative, Reading Borough Council’s Environmental Officers, local Police Officers, shopkeepers and local residents and conducted an Environmental Visual Audit (EVA) which was documented in detail resulting in a list being produced of ‘’works to be done”. This list, including a number of photographs has been on our website (Budgens Tidy Up page) since May 2011.

Mark and Jamie continued to chase the progress of this work throughout 2011 and 2012 but during one of their monthly ward surgeries in March, Jamie witnessed a little girl trip and fall on the paving stones and an elderly resident reported that he too had fallen on the footpath and had to be helped up by passers by.

Following this, Jamie wrote to Wolfe Properties via the Council and insisted that more robust action be taken to enforce the badly needed works , as discussed in May 2011. Jamie was advised that the landlord had already submitted a Planning Application to have the uneven footpath slabs removed and obtained quotations to have most of the car park resurfaced.

We are pleased to report that on Friday 27 April, full Planning Permission was granted to Wolfe Properties to commence the works!

For those aware of the letters referred to by Cllr Willis, inferring that he had led this initiative, we refer readers to the words below of Roland Hazell , Proprietor of Cavendish Meats in the Precinct for many years.

It is also worth noting that Cllr Willis is evidencing this through use of the ‘most recent correspondence’ referred to in the landlords Planning Application. This indicates that he has not written since August but refers to a letter from Mark Ralph of 4 November. It also precludes subsequent contact from Jamie Chowdhary that closed the matter.

“Mark, Just looked at Richard Willis` blog. I was very surprised to see him taking credit for getting the works done in the Budgens car park and walkway to say the least! I traded from number 6 Cavendish Road for many years as Cavendish Meats and addressed this problem with yourself many years before Mr Willis even became a Councillor!!! While I was at Cavendish Meats I know how much work you did in improving Emmer Green in general. It was a rare sight indeed to see Mr Willis even after he was elected and I hope he is not now jumping onto your coat tails trying to claim some of the credit which is rightfully yours” Roland Hazell, Cavendish Meats.

(See also: Budgens Tidy Up, Budgens Precinct and Budgens Result!)

Copyright 2008-2012 Jamie Chowdhary. All rights reserved