I’m delighted to have been formally adopted to stand for re-election as the Conservative candidate for the combined ward of Mount Hermon at the Woking Borough Council elections to be held on Thursday 5th May. The election will be the first under the new boundaries, which have seen the separate seats of Mount Hermon East and Mount Hermon West abolished and replaced with a single three member ward. The boundary review was part of a plan by the Conservative administration to reduce the cost of local government and is expected to save taxpayers around £60,000 per year.
It’s been immensely rewarding to have represented Mount Hermon East for the last six years. Whether it’s been helping to secure better parking enforcement around the station, working with Surrey County Council to deliver traffic calming measures in areas like Park Road and Old Woking Road, working to protect the character of areas like White Rose Lane or the Hockering, or using my position as Chairman of the Licensing Committee to steer through a tougher stance on shops and licensed premises promoting anti-social behaviour, I feel I’ve made a positive impact during my time as a councillor. A particular highlight was successfully campaigning for Second World War veterans of the Arctic Convoys living in the borough to be presented with the prestigious Ushakov Medal in a special ceremony at the civic offices.
Looking ahead, there are a number of important decisions coming up and I would like to continue my good work ensuring that residents’ interests are well represented. I hope to be able to see through improvements and footpath access at the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve, an issue I have been campaigning on for some time. I have also pressed the council and Network Rail to smarten Victoria Arch and am pleased that after years of pressure there is now progress to report. There are further works in the pipeline to improve Woking town centre through the Victoria Square project, and a planned redesign of Woking station to facilitate more frequent commuter services in and out of London. There will also be contentious debates about the level of affordable housing we need in the borough, about how the new Hoe Valley School is to be funded, and whether to go ahead with the redevelopment of Sheerwater.
Under the Conservatives, Woking has been transformed, with new shops, restaurants, job opportunities and school provision. It would be an honour if Mount Hermon residents felt able to reward this record and my own hard work by allowing me the privilege of continuing to represent them on the council.
I was delighted to welcome Sergey Nalobin and Sergey Fedichkin from the Russian Embassy in London to Woking this evening. The Russian diplomats came to Woking to award the Ushakov Medal to veterans in the borough who served in the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War.
The Arctic Convoys were a series of highly secretive missions which were vital in delivering aid and supplies through the Arctic Ocean to the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945, often under heavy bombardment from German naval forces. Over four years, 85 merchant vessanls and 16 Royal Navy warships were lost, and around 3,000 British sailors killed in what Winson Churchill described as “the most dangerous journey in the world.” Although the Russian Government has sought to award the Ushakov Medal to British veterans of the Arctic Convoys for some time, Foreign & Commonwealth Office rules meant it could only be accepted from 2013.
Today there are only three surviving veterans of the Arctic Convoys living in Woking. Douglas Potts and Reginald Guy attended the ceremony at the civic offices and received their medals in person from the Russian diplomats, while Edward Tann was represented by Royal Navy Commander Graham Turnbull. Mr Nalobin gave a respectful speech in which he spoke of Russia’s gratitude towards those who served in the Arctic Convoys, and also said it was important for those in Britain not to forget the heroism and sacrifice of those who helped keep the Soviet Union in the war.
After the ceremony, Mr Fedichkin told me that the Russian Embassy has extended the offer of Ushakov Medals to 800 veterans around the country, and they intend to award as many of these in person as possible. Similar ceremonies to that in Woking have also been held in other local authorities in recent months.
I was hugely honoured to play some small role in recognising the contibution of our borough’s veterans to our shared victory in the war.