Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Three parties to contest district council by-election

THREE candidates will contest the by-election in the Sonning Common ward of South Oxfordshire District Council

THREE candidates will contest the by-election in the Sonning Common ward of South Oxfordshire District Council on October 22.

Will Hall and Sue Cooper, both former district councillors, will represent the Conservaties and the Liberal Democrats respectively while David Winchester will stand for Labour.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Martin Akehurst on the advice of his doctor.

Cllr Akehurst, who was only elected in May, is still a member of Henley Town Council but has been on leave from his council duties since June after a dormant growth in his neck began “playing up”.

The Sonning Common ward includes the parishes of Binfield Heath, Rotherfield Greys, Shiplake, Eye and Dunsden, Sonning Common and Harpsden.

Mr Hall, of New Street, Henley, is the son of BBC director general Lord Hall.

He sat on the district council for four years and was cabinet member for finance until May when he was not re-elected in Henley.

He said: “The campaigning is going well. People seem positive and I think we have had a very good doorstep reception. People have been at home so it’s good to talk to them rather than leaving a leaflet.

“There are specific issues in the ward. In Shiplake and Sonning Common there is concern about planning. People want to see affordable homes being built in appropriate places.

“Sonning Common is working towards its neighbourhood plan and people want to be listened to.”

Mr Winchester, of Kennylands Road, Sonning Common, finished third in the ward election in May.

He received 651 votes, more than 1,700 votes fewer than both Cllr Akehurst and his fellow Conservative councillor Paul Harrison.

Mr Winchester said: “I am the only candidate who actually lives in the ward and I haven’t run for seats  elsewhere.

“That shows I am committed to being a councillor in the ward rather than being a councillor generally. It’s important that a local councillor should be a local person.

“I know people in Sonning Common are concerned about the lack of parking space in the middle of the village and the neighbourhood plan.”

Mrs Cooper previously served on the district council from 1991 to 2011.

She ran for one of two seats in the Benson and Crowmarsh ward in May but was beaten by Conservatives Felix Bloomfield and Richard Pullen.

Mrs Cooper, who also ran for the Henley parliamentary seat and finished third, said: “I want to draw attention to local issues like the potential closure of the Rainbow children’s centres.

“They do great preventative work, providing support to young mums at a cost which is not enormous.

“One of the other things the district council can do with planning, as well as development control, is through policy. I want to make sure when the area gets new houses it gets good community facilities too.”

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