Yes, I am standing in the by-election on 21st July 2011, as the Labour candidate. The nomination forms were delivered to the returning officer this morning, and at noon the deadline passed. So it’s now official.
My campaign will centre on two things; the reason for the by-election, and the plans by Wokingham Borough Council to privatise the library service. I have previously made my feelings known in relation to the library, and you are welcome to read them on this blog, so I will focus on the first of these issues now.
The by-election in Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe ward comes as a result of the resignation of Claire Stretton, one of two Conservative councillors representing the ward. Thusfar nothing particularly unusual. However, the reason for her resignation was that she had four days previously won a seat at Boyn Hill ward, in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. As she was now a councillor on a different council, she resigned her seat on Wokingham.
She could have resigned in the run up to the May local elections, rather than afterwards. If that had happened, then the by-election could have been run on the same day as the local elections, and the AV referendum. There was, as things were, no election in Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe on May 6th. However, there was the referendum. So the polling stations were open, and facilities in place for a ballot to be held.
Because Councillor Stretton did not do this, a separate by-election must be held. It has been estimated that this will cost the Borough an extra £9,000 (Henley Standard, 31st May 2011). And who fundamentally picks up this bill? The local taxpayer.
In a time of deep cuts and austerity for the people of Wokingham Borough, and of the country generally, a Conservative councillor has caused residents a large expense for no reason other than her own political gain. Councillor Stretton had one year left of her term- but if she had simply stood down at the election next year, she would have had to wait another three years before she could stand in Maidenhead. Her decision to resign afterwards cannot be seen as anything but a cynical ploy to ensure that she would remain a councillor regardless.
This shows a staggering arrogance, and to my mind demonstrates just how much the Conservatives take so-called “safe seats”, and the people living in them, for granted. Councillor Stretton did not think about the people she was supposed to be representing, she only thought about her own political career.
As Labour candidate in this election, I want to offer the people of Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe a choice. I will be a councillor who will fight for the issues residents care about. I want to give people an alternative to always voting for a Conservative Party which isn’t interested in them, or a Liberal Democrat party which cannot be trusted.
In the next few weeks, leading up to the date of the by-election, I will be campaigning across the ward. I will be speaking to residents, letting them know the ideals and principles I stand for, and listening to what they care about. If anyone wishes to contact me, to ask questions, to let me know their thoughts and feelings, or simply to offer their support, they may do so on this blog, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to me at 3 Newalls Rise, Wargrave.
I pledge to always listen to, read and respond to any correspondence I receive.