While canvasing last week, I was disappointed to learn that some Liberal Democrat activists have been apparently been making unfounded claims about Woking Park in a bid to attract votes in Mount Hermon, such as falsely claiming that the Conservatives wish to promote house building in the park or sell parts of it off to developers. Needless to say, these claims are entirely unfounded and it is a shame that the opposition has seemingly had to resort to such scaremongering and dirty tricks to try and win an election, rather than standing on their record.
At the meeting of Full Council last week, I asked the Leader of the Council to set out what steps the Conservative administration has taken to protect and enhance Woking Park in recent years. He could point to an impressive list of improvements. The Hoe Valley flood defence work has meant that the old run down greenhouse area is now well laid out and landscape. The Hoe Valley community buildings also now allow a range of community groups to enjoy the park. There is the new grass and 3G football pitches, a new cricket pitch, the relocation and refurbishment of the bandstand, improved tennis courts, enhanced grounds maintenance, a dog-free area for bettr relaxation, new play facilities, and a modern, high quality fitness gym at the Leisure Centre.
It is clear that the Conservatives on the council have shown tremendous commitment to Woking Park and any suggestions to the contrary are entirely without foundation.
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.
The Conservatives have won another seat on Woking Borough Council and narrowly missed out on picking up a second following yesterday’s local council by-elections in Goldsworth Park. Chitra Rana won the usually safe Liberal Democrat seat of Goldsworth West by a margin of 18 votes, while Sonia Elbaraka came very close in Goldsworth East but fell 32 votes short of securing victory. Both seats were declared vacant earlier in the summer when the sitting Liberal Democrat councillors resigned and moved abroad after a period of questionable attendance at important meetings.
The results are a mixed bag for both parties. The Conservatives had hoped to win the third Goldsworth East seat given that this is a ward which already has two Tory councillors and has seen a significant change in voting behaviour over the last five years. Credit is due to the newly elected councillor James Sanderson who fought a tough and effective campaign. The Liberal Democrats will be pleased that they have stalled the Conservative advance in this seat and have continued a trend which has seen their vote hold up relatively well in council by-elections since the General Election. At the same time, they will be bitterly disappointed to have lost Goldsworth West which has long been one of their safest seats on the council. While they will be celebrating the fact that they held on to Goldsworth East, the reality is that the Liberal Democrats are a further seat down in Woking and have failed to arrest the terminal decline in their vote and support in the borough.
I would like to congratulate both of the newly elected councillors and hope that they will be effective champions for their communities. All eyes will be on the combined Goldsworth Park ward, which will be one of the most marginal seats in the borough once the changes to local government boundaries come into effect next year.
The guest speaker at this year’s Woking Conservatives annual dinner will be the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond MP. The event will be held at Chobham Golf Club in Knaphill on Friday 13th November and will include a reception drink and three course dinner followed by coffee with mints. Mr Hammond will make a keynote speech and be available to chat and mingle with guests.
Tickets are £50 per person and can be booked through Sue Elson at the Woking Constituency Conservative Association on 01483 773 384 or by emailing email@example.com.
More information about the dinner can be found on the Woking Conservatives’ website here.
It was a long evening at the HG Wells Centre. The Conservatives increased their majority for the fourth year running, and now have 24 seats on the council. The Liberal Democrats lost further ground, failing to hold traditionally safe seats like Old Woking and Hermitage & Knaphill South and coming within 50 votes of seeing their leader deposed in Kingfield & Westfield. Labour gained a second councillor in Maybury & Sheerwater, while attempts by independent candidates to win seats failed to replicate John Bond’s success in Byfleet last year. UKIP’s share of the vote held up well, but under their current leadership they are incapable of articulating a positive vision for the borough.
I was particularly pleased to see my friend Melanie Whitehand re-elected in Knaphill with the largest majority in Woking. Somewhat dishearteningly, Melanie’s majority is greater than the entire number of votes cast to re-elect me in Mount Hermon East last year, and she secured more votes in a single council ward than I gained in the entire parliamentary constituency of Glasgow East when I stood as a candidate in 2005. Melanie has provided a fantastic service to her residents and has addressed some challenging issues over the last eight years. Completely selfless in her work, she is the epitome of what public service should be about. I was also happy to see Hilary Addison elected to another term as councillor for Goldsworth East. Like Melanie, Hilary has turned a former Liberal Democrat seat into one with a large Conservative vote thanks to her staunch advocacy of residents’ interests.
In Byfleet, our excellent candidate Harry Briggs will now represent residents in the east of the borough. Although independent candidate Amanda Boote came a good second, pushing the Liberal Democrats into third place, voters were no doubt aware of the poor performance of the area’s other independent councillor, who failed to turn up to a large number of important meetings last year. An independent candidate standing on a platform of opposition to the Sheerwater redevelopment also failed to muster significant support, suggesting that opposition to the project might not be as widespread as is often believed.
It was going to be a tall order for the Conservatives to win in Kingfield & Westfield this time round given the high profile of the incumbent councillor, but credit goes to Natalie Bourne who represented the Conservatives extremely well in the ward. She will undoubtedly have better success next time. Colin Scott also failed to win election in Maybury & Sheerwater despite expending considerable energy campaigning in every seat in the borough as well as constituencies as far flung as Southampton and Rochester & Strood.
Finally, congratulations to our new councillors, John Lawrence and Paul Smith, who will represent the traditionally Liberal Democrat seats of Old Woking and Hermitage & Knaphill South. Both men are hugely respected in their communities and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the council. I’m sure they will both be effective champions for their areas.
The South Woking branch of Woking Conservatives will host our annual lunch party on Saturday 11th October at Strathmore, on Onslow Crescent. Our guest speaker this year will be Sir Richard Ottaway MP, Member of Parliament for Croydon South and Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sir Richard will speak about the role of the Foreign Affairs Committee and on current events in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. With foreign policy currently high on the agenda, this will surely be a fascinating talk. Tickets for the event are £18 which includes drinks and a three course lunch. If you would like to attend please contact Cllr David Bittleston on 07800 844877.
Thank you to everyone who turned out at the local elections in Mount Hermon East on Thursday and helped re-elect me as your councillor for a second term. I am grateful for the support that people gave me during the election and for all the kind messages I received both before and after polling day. I will do my best to continue to make sure that your views are well represented and to help resolve any problems whenever they occur.
Overall the Conservatives increased their position on the council, with my colleague Rizwan Shah winning the traditionally Liberal Democrat seat of Goldsworth East, Debbie Harlow taking the third Knaphill seat, and Colin Kemp beating the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Horsell West. They are joined by the extremely talented Ayesha Azad, who takes over from Simon Bellord in Mayford & Sutton Green.
While it was a great night for the Conservatives in Woking, who again bucked the national trend to increase our vote share and representation on the council, it was sad to see Dorothy Farrant lose out by a small margin in Byfleet. Dorothy was an assiduous local champion and I have no doubt she will return to the council when the Byfleet seat comes up for election again next year. It was disappointing to lose in Maybury & Sheerwater, although elections in that community are always unpredictable. My friend Colin Scott also spent a lot of time and effort working in Mount Hermon West and would have been a fantastic councillor, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get him elected this time around.
It was a pleasure to welcome Marta Andreasen MEP to the winter lunch party hosted by the South Woking branch of Woking Conservatives this afternoon. Marta is one of the Conservative Party’s Members of the European Parliament and is ranked fourth on our list for South East England in next year’s European elections. She has made a name for herself as an anti-corruption campaigner, famously being sacked from the European Commission for refusing to sign off its accounts, and regularly appears in the press highlighting examples of EU waste.
Many people will know that Marta defected from UKIP to the Conservatives this year after a public falling out with Nigel Farage. She has since expressed concerns about the way UKIP is run and the views of some of its candidates. However, I was pleased that during her talk she avoided personal attacks, and concentrated on her own work in the European Parliament, noting that the Conservatives are the only party pledged to hold an in or out referendum on our membership of the European Union.
I found Marta honest and engaging. She made an effort to speak with everyone and took lots of time to answer questions. I look forward to campaigning for her and hope that the people of Woking will return her to the European Parliament as she is undoubtedly a principled advocate of our national interests in Brussels.
I’m delighted to announce that Marta Andreasen MEP will be the guest speaker at the South Woking Conservatives’ annual winter lunch party on Saturday 7th December at Pin Mill on Heathside Road.
Marta has been an MEP since 2009 and was formerly chief accountant to the European Commission, where she raised concerns about flaws in the EU’s accounting system that left it vulnerable to fraud. She defected from UKIP to the Conservatives earlier this year and is ranked fourth on the Conservative list of candidates for South East England in the 2014 European Parliament elections.
The South Woking winter lunch parties are always a highlight of our association’s calendar of events and Marta will undoubtedly be a fascinating speaker. Tickets are likely to sell out quickly so make sure you book your place on the Woking Conservatives’ website.
Woking Conservatives announce borough council election candidates for Mount Hermon East and Mount Hermon West
Last night I was formally adopted by the Woking Conservative Association to stand for re-election as the councillor for Mount Hermon East in next year’s local elections.
I’ve had a fantastic three and a half years on the council and have been pleased to be able to stand up for residents’ interests by helping to establish the East Hill Residents’ Association; campaigning against inappropriate development proposals on the old St Dunstan’s church site; working with Cllr Liz Bowes to persuade the county council to introduce traffic calming measures along Park Road; and making representations at the planning committee to protect the special status and character of the Hockering.
I’m also proud to have played a role in the shaping of Woking town centre and the redevelopment of our community by supporting measures such as the Hoe Valley scheme; the Moor Lane PFI project; the revitalisation of the town square, and the exciting changes taking place in Commercial Way and Victoria Square.
My priorities if re-elected next May will be to continue working with colleagues to transform Woking town centre into a high quality retail, commercial and entertainment destination; to protect our green spaces by campaigning against over-development in our residential areas; and to support the Executive as it continues to reduce wasteful and unnecessary expenditure and find innovative ways of delivering improved services and better value for money for residents.
I would also like to congratulate my friend Colin Scott, who has been selected to stand for the Conservatives in Mount Hermon West. Colin stood in the ward at the 2012 local elections and came very close to winning the seat. I know he will do a formidable job and be a strong voice in representing the interests of his residents.