Getting the best deal for Westborough


I want a squirrel

At last night’s Milton hustings a resident interrupted Tammy Cooper (Independent) as she was saying how she would work for all residents; “yes, but what do you actually stand for? We want to see some leadership from those who represent us”.

That, folks, is as good a riposte to those who seek to be all things to all men as you will likely hear.

I am not picking on Ms Cooper, she was merely the one who attracted the resident’s comment – many who put themselves up see their roles as merely to mirror whoever they last spoke to.

I am grateful for the increased Green presence in the borough in one aspect. They are clearly a team, and are sticking to their script. For them, being in a party is important, and in that I can wholly concur. Where the Greens fall down is that their cheerleader-in-chief thinks it is part of his job description to take over a residents’ meeting.

Simon Cross appears in constant need of a soapbox; I pity the poor resident for whom he inflicted earache last night, said resident having the misfortune to have sat directly in front of Mr Cross. Simon claims he was presented to support his candidate. Fine, but that does not mean he must hijack the meeting.

As it was, Vida Mansfield acquit herself very well; she was not in need of a Sir Galahad. Her problem is that her party is attacking and attempting to attract Labour support. In Milton this will make the Tories’ job easier. What gain is that for centre-left and environmentally aware politics?

Gray Sergeant gave an assured and mature performance, and was prepared to be realistic about some of the tough choices that face councillors in the current economic climate.

Bob Howes, who arguably had the trickiest job of the lot as the Liberal Democrat representative, did at least make me laugh when he declared that the current Government is the best we have had since the war (1945). The trouble is that he was not joking.

Jonathan Garston was Jonathan Garston; as usual seemingly oblivious to the damage his party have done to Milton ward. He should be replaced by the clear winner in yesterday’s event in St Mark’s church hall, and that winner was Gray Sergeant. I hope Milton will give Labour its Milton hat-trick on May 7th.

On Wednesday evening I went to an altogether different hustings in Westborough. This was slightly better attended than its Milton counterpart (about fifty present). I do wonder why, for the second year running, it clashed with Chalkwell’s event.

Charles Willis won by a country mile, a result I expect to see mirrored at the ballot box. He will be a welcome addition to the council chamber.

The questioning began with a question on TTIP and ended with asking the candidates how they find out what was going on in the ward. In between were some searching inquiries, and to be frank some candidates come up short.

Unlike in Milton, there was no audience participation. This did not stop Simon Cross wildly applauding whatever Paul Mansfield said, even when he said he knew next to nothing about a particular subject!

David Webb persisted in describing the local council administration as an Independent one. Afterwards I asked him directly who ran the council, and he had to answer me honestly (it is the Independent Group, Labour and Liberal Democrats in Joint Administration); I then said that he had effectively lied several times to the audience. He mumbled something about it being how you chose to describe them – no, the description is taken from our agreement, of which I was one of the signatories.

Both hustings showed that there is some appetite for politics, and that people do care about what is going on in their area. Oh, how I wish for such an event in Blenheim Park.

Getting the best deal for Kursaal


A delighted Charles and Anne

N110ews from our hard-working Kursaal candidate, working with a councillor in the fight to hold back the tide of over-development:

Cllr Anne Jones and this year’s Kursaal Labour candidate, Charles Willis, were delighted to be supporting residents to continue the fight against a contentious development. The application, on the old Welfare’s storage facility in Sutton Road, has been refused a second time by the Planning Committee.

Residents raised concerns about noise, nuisance, rubbish, loss of privacy and light and general overdevelopment.

Anne says: “We will continue to work with residents to oppose over-development, which is detrimental to our communities. I am glad that the committee endorsed the views of residents.”

Charles Willis supported and encouraged residents to work together and raise their objections.

Charles says: “The numbers of objections from the public gave weight to the case and ultimately led to the refusal.”

An industrious quintet

102Our candidates are so busy we struggle to find time for a group photograph. Nonetheless, here are five of them, all with very good prospects in May’s elections.

Left to right: Gray Sergeant (standing in St Luke’s ward), Cheryl Nevin (Milton), Kevin Robinson (Westborough), Cllr Margaret Borton (Victoria), and Charles Willis (Kursaal).

Kursaal campaigning

Charles Willis, Cllr Anne Jones, and Matthew Dent - helping to paint Kursaal red this morning

Charles Willis, Cllr Anne Jones, and Matthew Dent – helping to paint Kursaal red this morning

It was my pleasure to support my friend, Charles Willis, in his campaigning in Kursaal ward this morning. Charles will be looking to oust the sitting Conservative councillor (Louise Burdett) in this ward in May, making Kursaal a Tory-free zone for the first time since 2007. Charles is working hard to make an impression, and from what I can see he is certainly managing this. He will be asset to the chamber should he, as is expected, see victory here. This morning we were supporting Ed Miliband’s energy plan.