ELECTION: Parties target Reigate & Banstead votes

April 30, 2013
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AN OVERHAUL of county council division boundaries has led to a new seat being created in Conservative-dominated Reigate Banstead.

The borough has seen a radical change to divisions with 10 seats now up for grabs as Surrey County Council increases in size from 80 councillors to 81 for this week’s elections.

The Tories hold six of the nine existing seats. They also held Earlswood and Reigate South prior to the death of Frances King last December.

County council elections – interactive map guide to who is standing where

Conservative party spokesman Julian Ellacott said the new boundaries made it difficult to tell how the Tories would perform, but he said candidates had been working hard canvassing residents.

He added: “They will do the best they can to be elected for the areas in which they live, but quite rightly it is going to be in the hands of voters whether they get the success they deserve.

“In terms of the Reigate Banstead candidates, our overriding priority is for local people to be represented by local people – every one of our candidates lives in the division for which they are seeking election, which is not the case for any other party.

“They have a diverse range of backgrounds, some being people with their own business, others in professional careers, others retired – all of whom have the considerable energy and time required to be good county councillors, if elected.”

Incumbent Banstead West councillor Nick Harrison, leader of the Residents Association/Independent group, believes their presence could grow this year.

Mr Harrison, who is standing for re-election in the new division of Nork and Tattenhams, said he hoped Residents Association and independent councillors could become the main opposition to the Conservatives.

“Residents Association councillors are in touch with their residents – through regular newsletters, monthly meetings and surgeries – and aim to knock on every elector’s door,” he said.

“We know the local issues and push for local solutions. We operate no party whip – unlike the main parties – so we put the interests of our residents first.

“We have 10 seats and look to build on this number by taking the single remaining seat in Epsom Ewell [currently held by the Liberal Democrats].

“The major issue for the council itself is the question of finance, with government grants dropping by over 30%. Councils must be as efficient as possible and be the low cost provider of the quality services we all need.

“The cost of back office services must be reduced – for example, why does the council have such a large communications department, when potholes are not being repaired?”

Labour has candidates in the running for eight out of 10 seats across the borough and party spokesman Robin Spencer is confident they can gain some ground due to the “current unpopularity” of the coalition government.

He said: “We are fighting virtually every seat in the borough and hope to gain one or two.

“In Surrey we have a one-party state. What we need is more councillors of non-Conservative or Lib Dem persuasion to oppose policies and stand up for the people of Surrey.

“We want to see some independent thought. What’s the point in having local government voted in by local people if they are just going to slavishly follow their masters in central government.”

Mr Spencer said Labour promised to focus on safeguarding education and libraries, ensuring public transport services remain and that Surrey’s roads are improved, protecting the green belt and making the streets safer.

Teenage candidate

The Green Party has put forward 12 candidates across Surrey for the elections, seven of whom are standing in Reigate Banstead.

Current borough councillor and candidate for the Redhill West and Meadvale seat, Sarah Finch, said the aim was to become an “effective opposition” within Surrey County Council.

“We have shown that Greens can be an effective opposition in Redhill,” she said.

“We now need an effective opposition in the county too. Even with a large Conservative majority, we can make them work harder.”

The party’s main campaign objectives include defending the green belt from development; opposing new waste incinerators and promoting greener forms of waste diversion including better programmes for waste reduction and recycling; road safety, such as 20mph speed limits, improved cycle lanes, better public transport and better road maintenance; opposing welfare cuts; and promoting a living wage in place of a minimum wage to eradicate poverty.

Ms Finch will have to fend off rival Lib Dem candidate, and current county councillor for Reigate Central, Peter Lambell, who is running for re-election.

He said this year’s change to boundaries would make the elections more challenging but he remains confident he will win again, saying: “There has been quite a change in the boundaries this year.

“I have a good track record in Reigate Central but now the target seat is half of the old seat and half of a new seat so it will be more challenging.

“But I have been getting good reactions on doorsteps and I’m hoping my past track record will help us in the area.”

Mr Lambell is also confident in the party’s other 10 candidates and believes some of them will pull in more votes, including 18-year-old William Dyer, contesting the Reigate division, who is expected to inspire support from young voters in the borough.

Mr Lambell said protecting the green belt was high on the Liberal Democrats’ agenda within Reigate Banstead.

UKIP has candidates vying for all 10 divisions. Party spokesman for Reigate Banstead, Peter Lindsay, said they planned to win votes, and seats, by putting forward knowledgeable and experienced candidates to tackle the issues local people have raised concerns about.

These include road maintenance, the county council’s financial waste and mismanagement, the council tax rate, and the pressure on local services by immigration levels.

Mr Lindsay said: “UKIP is the only party which is prepared to highlight the strain put on local services by uncontrolled immigration. UKIP plans to shock them out of their complacency.

“The voters are talking about this on the doorsteps. The politicians need to act.”

Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2133311_election_parties_target_reigate__banstead_votes


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