Row Rumbles on Over Italian-based Colliers Wood Councillor

Dave Ward says he will spend only a few weeks of the summer away

Cllr Dave Ward
Cllr Dave Ward

A councillor has faced criticism after he moved 1,000 miles from his Colliers Wood ward to start a new life in Italy.

Merton councillor Dave Ward made the move in July after buying a house in Palata, in the region of Molise.

But the Labour politician is adamant that he will only spend a few weeks there this summer before moving permanently next May – ahead of the local elections.

He says he will not run in the next round of elections – or give up his role as planning committee chairman in the meantime.

But some in Colliers Wood think he should be in the area full time. A 71-year-old woman who has lived off the High Street for more than 40 years and asked not to be named said, “It does seem a bit strange, but he’s done it now.

“I do think our local councillor should be here all the time, they should represent us, I think they bend the rules to suit themselves.”

And Colliers Wood local Ellie Mills, 34, said, “It doesn’t seem much like a holiday to me.”

While Luke Watson, said the first he had heard of Cllr Ward was from last week’s story.

The 44-year-old said, “It seems an unusual choice, I’d think you’d want to be close to the issues which I imagine is hard to do when working remotely.

“I guess we have been all been remotely working recently, but I think in that role it is different – It’s not what I’d choose.”

And David Fitzpatrick, 42, moved to Colliers Wood from Tooting last year said, “I have noticed a difference between Merton and Wandsworth Council.

“The council seems to do more in Wandsworth you can see that the streets are cleaner and with this guy going backwards and forwards to Italy.”

One Colliers Wood woman who asked not to be named said, “I have no idea who he is, I couldn’t tell you anything about him.”

In response to a Facebook post where Cllr Ward announced he would be stepping down next May where he says he will return to Italy “now and again” until then locals wished him luck.

One said, “Good for you Dave. People of Colliers Wood has been well served by you over the last three years and I’m sure they will be for the rest of your term in office.”

The planning chair says he will fly back for the next planning meeting on 19 August.

Cllr Wood said he is just in Italy preparing his new home before heading back to his flat in Colliers Wood.

He said, “I am in Italy in the summer for a few weeks, the plan is to return over the Christmas break. For the rest of the time I will be at home in Colliers Wood.”

He took to social media to defend himself after posting photos of his journey to Italy and his new home, Tweeting: “About 90 per cent of the time I will be in Colliers Wood. I am preparing for my life after next May, but until then, still lots to do in Merton.”

Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

August 9, 2021