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Independent candidate for Newbury Wash Common, Simon Kirby, says he will focus on getting rid of the role of Mayor, supporting Sandleford and allotments ahead of Thursday’s local council elections

Getting rid of the role of mayor, supporting Sandleford and allotments are all on the elctioneering list for the independent candidate standing in the district and town council elections in West Berkshire this Thursday.

The independent candidate for Newbury Wash Common is Simon Kirby – a local of more than 30 years, but formerly from Essex.

Simon Kirby is standing as an independent candidate in Newbury Wash Common
Simon Kirby is standing as an independent candidate in Newbury Wash Common

​​​​​​He describes his politics as sitting “somewhere between the Greens and the Lib Dems”, but is fiercly of the view that local councils should not be governed by national party politics.

He says his value as an independent councillor is that he is not controlled by any national party, and is therefore free to represent the community as he best sees it.

“There are 43 people on the council, and there are some decent people involved,” he says.

“I’d like to see some genuine discussion though rather than things being ruled by party grandees. To have 43 people with real world experience looking carefully at public services is the way forward here.”

Mr Kirby relocated to West Berkshire for his work as a physicist at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

“I marked the position of the town’s allotment sites on an estate agent’s map because I’m an enthusiastic allotmenteer,” he says.

“…and actually got my allotment a month before completing on the sale of my home on Stuart Road.

“My wife and I have always been very happy in Wash Common as it’s a good neighbourhood with lots of places to walk our dogs and go running and my favourite thing of all is the sound of the rooks and jackdaws in the trees by the water tower.”

Newbury Wash Common ward has one of the biggest fields for the local district council elections this Thursday.

There are three Conservatives, three Lib Dems, a Green and Mr Kirby.

He is also standing in the Newbury Town Council elections for Wash Common. He says the council is in “poor shape”. In that contest there are also six Lib Dems, one Conservative and three Greens.

He wants to get rid of the role of mayor, which is, he says, a waste of money.

“I had some success opposing the town council‘s horrible plans for a bronze statue venerating the Tudor industrialist who, as town magistrate, had the Newbury Martyrs, Julins Palmer, Thomas Askin, and John Gwin, burned alive,” he says.

He also claims a win in getting the fox fur trim removed from the mayoral robes and stopping the council from preventing people feeding the swans on Newbury’s canal.

“So very much public money is spent dressing up councillors in robes and hats that it’s almost the only thing our town councillors pay any attention to, that and their agonising over planning applications, though the town council has no responsibility for town planning and the substantial public money supporting this hobby is quite wasted,” he adds.

“I will do my best to bring about some changes at the town council, turning it into a modern parish council that listens to its parishioners and focuses its effort on the efficient delivery of modest parish services that serve the community and respect the environment.”

On the district council level he supports the Sandleford development, which he realises may even lose him votes in the ward.

The decision to develop was made by the minister of state for housing, Stuart Andrew, on the behalf of the secretary of state, after a public inquiry last May into West Berkshire Council’s rejection of the scheme.

Bloor Homes and Sandleford Partnership’s residential development will see up to 1,080 homes, a primary school, additional facilities for Park House School, and additional infrastructure being built on the Sandleford estate.

“I really feel for young families with housing being as scarce and expensive as it is,” says Mr Kirby.

“Sandleford is going ahead, and for me what’s particularly important now is that we have district councillors who are positive about delivering it, and most particularly the country park that we were promised as part of that development, properly funded and managed for the community.

“Good oversight can be hard to find with party-politicised councils and as an independent I’m just going to call it as I see it.”

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