Fri, 02 Jun 2017
THATCHAM South and Crookham residents will have three votes to cast on June 8.
A by-election has been called to fill Conservative councillor Roger Croft’s seats on West Berkshire Council and Thatcham Town Council.
Mr Croft died from injuries sustained in a car crash in France in February. His wife Zelda was also killed.
Mr Croft was elected to the town and district councils in 2011 and became the leader of West Berkshire Council in 2015.
The by-election will be held on the same day as the General Election on Thursday, June 8.
The Conservatives controlled 48 of the 52 seats on West Berkshire Council until Mr Croft’s death, with the remaining four held by the Liberal Democrats.
Thatcham Town Council is also run by the Conservatives, who held 15 of the 18 seats, with the Lib Dems holding the remaining seats.
With less than a week until the by-election we have re-run profiles, which appeared in the Newbury Weekly News, of those standing for Thatcham Town Council.
The Liberal Democrat candidate has decided to stand up for his values in the wake of cuts to local services.
Jamie Read has lived in the town for 12 years and has two children at Francis Baily Primary School.
He has voted for the Liberal Democrats since he was able to and joined the party eight years ago.
Having trained as an actor, dancer and singer, Mr Read has performed in the West End and now teaches voice coaching and singing in the area.
He said: “I have worked in the arts for over 20 years, and so openness, tolerance and liberal values have always been a part of my life.
“Over recent years I have become more and more alarmed by the cuts to services and the increases in council tax.
“We are a typical family – two kids on a middle income, squeezed from all angles of late – and I felt that, after years of complaining from the sidelines, it was time to roll my sleeves up and stand up for what I believe in.”
Mr Read and his wife Helen founded a charity to support disadvantaged young people through training in the arts.
He attends St Barnabas Church in Thatcham and said that he enjoyed supporting local causes.
Mr Read said that housing and cuts to public services were the biggest issues facing the town.
“It seems to me that the only way to address these issues is to listen to what local people have to say, and that’s why you’ll find myself and other Liberal Democrat activists out and about in Thatcham South and Crookham doing resident surveys in every spare evening that we have.
“A vote for the Liberal Democrats at local level is the same as at national level at the moment, in that we are the only credible opposition to hold the council to account and push back against Tory cuts.”
Labour candidate John Hill has lived on Crookham Park with his wife for almost four years and was a parish councillor at his former home town of Wareham, Dorset.
Mr Hill said he had worked closely with Roger Croft on a number of issues in his role as secretary of the Crookham Park Residents’ Association.
He joined the Labour Party last year as he believed Jeremy Corbyn was the first Labour leader since Harold Wilson to speak for everyone in the UK.
He said: “I agree with the policies put forward by the Labour Party and believe they would benefit the residents of Thatcham South and Crookham, as well as the rest of our country.”
Mr Hill said five problems required urgent attention.
The bus service in Crookham Common Road needs improving and working to a sensible timetable, while he wanted to find a solution to the “constant hold-ups” at Thatcham level crossing.
“Achieving this will improve air quality for all and will raise the local economy by reducing the number of man hours wasted in never-ending queues,” he said.
He would like to see a footpath or cycleway between the Travellers Friend and Thatcham Town FC and the speed limit reduced to 40mph on Crookham Common Road.
He also wants a police officer on the beat in every ward in West Berkshire.
He said: “I believe a Labour win would send a message to those on the council that they need to work harder to improve our local area.”
The West Berkshire Green Party has put forward headteacher Paul Field to stand for Thatcham Town Council.
Mr Field said that he wanted to “bring a different perspective and voice to the conversation”.
“My main focus in Thatcham is creating a healthy environment with positive communities and level of engagement with the council.”
He added that he would support and promote cycling and a healthy lifestyle in the town.
Mr Field, headteacher at Basildon Primary School, said he that wanted to increase engagement with young people and elderly residents.
Mr Field, who is also standing as the Green Party candidate in the General Election, said: “I believe we should be proudly sharing our message of hope, fairness and environmental responsibility.
“To send a message that you want to change the way we do politics in this country, that you want to live in a kinder, safer Britain, and that you want to look to the future with hope, then vote Green in 17.”
THE Conservatives are hoping that their candidate’s strong community links and voluntary record will sway voters.
Dan Carter volunteers with Thatcham Youth and is also a volunteer and trustee with Heartstart Thatcham.
The 25-year-old said: “Having lived in Thatcham my whole life and being a strong part of the community through my various volunteering and working roles, I felt that standing in the election will be another way to help my community grow and develop into a place where people want to live.
“With my strong background in youth work, I will bring a new and younger voice to the town council and I am keen to help sustain and develop youth provision in the town.
“I also want to be able to influence development of the town.
“Working in housing, I understand how affordable housing is essential for everyone and want to be able to work with developers to ensure that, while housing is built for the benefit of the town, it is also affordable for people.”
Mr Carter, who works for Sovereign Housing, formerly worked as a neighbourhood warden.
Mr Carter said: “The Conservative Thatcham Town Council have done some great work for the benefit of the town, including plans to reintroduce CCTV in the town centre, putting a plan in place to keep the library open and putting the Priory to good use.
“I wanted to be a part of this and continue the work that has already been done.”
Mr Carter said that one of the biggest issues facing the town was anti-social behaviour in the Broadway.
He said that the town council and his youth club would have a part to play in the multi-agency response to the issue.
Addressing issues in Thatcham South and Crookham, Mr Carter said that he would tackle parking issues along Agricola Way and Wheelers Green Way.