Following the resignation of Chris Singleton, there is a vacancy for Wokingham Borough Council in its Emmbrook ward.
The by-election will take place on Friday, February 17 and four candidates have put themselves forward.
There could have been a fifth, but the person who would have stood for the Greens decided, in a personal capacity, to stand down. Instead he is urging candidates to back the Liberal Democrat candidate.
There were two elections in Emmbrook last year and both were narrowly won by the Conservatives.
We asked all four candidates to introduce themselves and explain what they would do for Emmbrook if they were elected
Chris Everett, Labour
Chris is a recently retired IT Project Manager who has lived in Wokingham for three years.
Having worked for Housing Associations and Local Authorities he has a keen understanding of the pressures faced by local government and the social housing sector in particular.
Since retirement, Chris has been an active campaigner for Labour all over the Borough and has a good knowledge of the issues facing Emmbrook residents and the council.
Most recently he has been campaigning against the £658 per pupil per year cut in
funding for The Holt School and cuts to school funding across the borough.
Chris said: “With only one Labour councillor on the borough council, it vital we elect a second Labour councillor to help scrutinise the Tories properly.
“I will join our current councillor in arguing councillors’ pay should be reduced to
“The obscenity of Tories voting themselves more money, year after year, while cutting essential services elsewhere, has to stop”.
On housing he says: “I support good old fashioned council housing.
“The Tories have not replaced the houses they have sold. It is a disaster.
“There are approximately 4,000 people waiting for homes and the borough is pitifully unable to make a meaningful impact on the problem”.
Kevin Morgan, Conservatives
Emmbrook is my home, having lived here for twenty years with my children attending Emmbrook School. I am proud to be the only candidate who lives in the ward.
Living in the ward you wish to represent gives you valuable first-hand experience of the issues and problems facing residents.
I have been representing Emmbrook residents since 2015 when elected as one of your Town Councillors. I have a good track record of working with residents to improve the local area. I have been developing my plan to have an Emmbrook that works for everyone and I know I can make a difference if elected.
My number one priority is to resist future major housing development in Emmbrook. I recognise that we do need additional housing in the Borough. But put simply, Emmbrook is full. That is why I pledge to support potential new town developments like Grazeley where the infrastructure is easier to provide without impacting existing residents. This is vital to stop squeezing developments into existing housing areas. This is my approach – the question is what is the approach of other candidates. Do they support Grazeley?
There are other priorities in my plan such as improving roads and reducing gridlock, continuing to invest in schools.
I strongly believe that your councillor has to be accessible and accountable to Emmbrook residents. I will build on my existing activities as a Town Councillor and would be actively seeking regular feedback through many routes, including social media.
Phil Ray, UKIP
I am Phil Ray currently Chairman of Wokingham UKIP branch, I have lived in the area for over 20 years raising a family and run a local business serving local people.
In the 20 years I have lived here the Council has been dominated by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
If you want things to change then please don’t vote in another Conservative/LibDem candidate to join their cosy cartel.
At the most recent Community Forum in November noticeably fewer Emmbrook residents turned up compared to previous ones and is it any wonder?
Whether it’s building a new road via the residents least preferred route (while existing ones crumble), arguing the toss over whether such things as a new home for the Scouts was really agreed or not, providing less money per pupil for the schools; they simply do not listen to you.
The reason they don’t listen is, through their own arrogance, they believe that you will put a cross in the box for their chosen candidate who will then toe the party line.
As a UKIP councillor I will only be answerable to one group of people and that is the residents
of Emmbrook, whether they voted for me or not.
I ask you to use your vote in this by-election to send a message that will both shock the Council out of their complacency and give Emmbrook residents a Councillor who really will listen to your concerns and fight for you in the Council chamber. Please vote UKIP on February 17th.
Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, Liberal Democrat
Imogen is a local girl, brought up in Emmbrook, and the area has always remained important to her.
She works in IT and after several years of working in London and the USA, she returned to Wokingham where her family lives. She is not afraid to take risks and meet the challenges needed to support her residents during challenging times.
Representing part of Emmbrook on Wokingham Town Council since 2015, she has been exceptionally active in promoting its concerns. This includes challenging local developers and stopping them abusing the planning system.
At the last full Borough Council elections in Emmbrook, she secured 1,222 votes to the Conservative 1,235, missing out by just 13 votes.
“While we need new homes, particularly for our children to live in, we also need the resources and infrastructure to keep pace so that our existing community does not suffer.
- We need big improvements in transport links, so that Wokingham does not grind to a halt.
- We need proper funding for our schools so that they can meet our academic demands and accommodate new students moving into the area.
- We need a new local health centre. Getting an appointment to see a doctor is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Now I am seeking a bigger role on the borough council so I can fight more effectively for the area I love. I also want to start cleaning up a council which seems divisive and unfit for purpose. Politicians should not forget who they are elected to represent – our residents.”