Sunday, 22 October 2017

Meet the Sonning Common by-election candidates

A BY-ELECTION for South Oxfordshire District Council will take place next week.

A BY-ELECTION for South Oxfordshire District Council will take place next week.

One of the Sonning Common ward seats has been vacant since Conservative Martin Akehurst, a former Mayor of Henley, stepped down last month.

On Thursday residents of Sonning Common, Shiplake, Eye and Dunsden, Binfield Heath and Harpsden will go to the polls.

Mr Akehurst stepped away from the council on the advice of his consultant but he is still a member of Henley Town Council.

The candidates contesting the seat are Will Hall (Conservatives), Susan Cooper (Liberal Democrats) and David Winchester (Labour).

Paul Harrison, a Conservative, is the other councillor for the ward. He is also vice-chairman of the district council and has been a member since 2007. Sue Cooper

Having previously been a South Oxfordshire District councillor for 20 years, including being chairman of the council, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and cabinet member for economic development, I will be a diligent representative for the Sonning Common ward.

I have a long-standing interest in environmental issues, having introduced the first recycling scheme in South Oxfordshire and chaired the Oxfordshire Waste Management Partnership for several years. I?m particularly keen that the district council should ensure that new buildings are constructed with high standards of energy efficiency.

If elected, I will take a strong interest in the design, location and sustainability of our new housing, including affordable housing for local people. We must ensure that new development contributes more safe footpaths, cycle routes and other facilities which our villages need to cope with more houses.

The current unhealthy political balance (33 out of 36 councillors are Conservatives with only 51 per cent of the vote in May) means that we need strong Liberal Democrat voices on the council to hold it to account. I have experience and training in scrutiny from my previous years on the council.

We should not charge people council tax and then not spend it on services such as those provided by the Rainbow Children?s Centre, buses and recycling centres are threatened.

Will Hall

I have lived in the area almost my whole life and love it here.

As a child, I sang in the choir at All Saints, Dunsden. I have served as a primary school governor and when not working or getting involved in my local community I love spending my time on the river or cooking.

In 2011 I was elected on to the district council as one of the youngest councillors in the country. Since then I have chaired the grants panel, helping the district?s wonderful community groups to continue their amazing work, and been cabinet member for finance, constructing a budget that saw a three per cent tax cut and greater investment in vital areas such as planning enforcement and recycling.

I am a firm supporter of community-led planning and I believe that residents should have a greater say over the future of their communities.

I want to see enough affordable houses so people of my generation are not shuffled out of where they grew up but planning decisions must be in the hands of residents and not developers.

David Winchester

I am the only candidate who actually lives in the ward.

The other candidates were rejected by their local voters in May and are now trying their luck in our ward.

I have lived in Sonning Common since 1985 and my children went to Chiltern Edge School and The Henley College. I have a wealth of managerial experience gained with Thames Water and Yellow Pages.

Within the community, I was chairman of governors at Chiltern Edge and I now help the Workers? Education Association in Reading deliver its courses.

I came second to the Tories in the May election. In contrast, the Lib Dems came sixth and seventh out of seven candidates.

This election will provide voters with an unexpected opportunity to fire a warning shot across the bows of the Tory party.

If you are unhappy about hospitals with no beds, disappearing youth clubs, closing children?s centres and having your waste tip under threat, why vote for a party that is planning to bring you more of the same?

If you are angry about councillors increasing their allowances by 55 per cent and you are surrounded by the results of relaxed planning rules, vote Labour for a change on October 22.

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