Leadership at Forest Heath District Council

There was a definitely a sense of the changing of the guard at Forest Heath Conservative Group AGM last night when James Waters were elected Leader of the Group and as is the way of these things will be elected Leader of the Council next week at the Council’s AGM.

The former Leader Geoffrey Jaggard who has served the residents of Forest Heath with great distinction over many years was given a rousing round of applause and thanked by all. He can be rightly proud of his and the Council’s achievements and track record, not least the lowest council tax of any council in Suffolk and a well run and efficient set of services. 

Both James and his fellow leadership contender Robin Millar presented a clear vision of how they saw the next 4 years and either of them would make an excellent Leader but there can be only one. Nigel Roman was the only nomination for Deputy Leader and brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge built up over many years of outstanding public service both to Forest heath District Council and the Conservative Party.

The challenge for the new leader is to lead the council through the unprecedented change that the Localism Bill will bring about and to deliver a vision of how the area we all live in is going to be shaped by the council’s deeds and actions over the next 4 years.

At my induction onto the Council last week I heard an officer say the area looked more to the Cambridge Economic Sub-region than to Ipswich, and whilst I entirely agree with this correct assessment; it struck me, so how does that shape the policies and actions of the Council?, in my opinion it currently does not to the extent it should.

If we look economically look  towards Cambridge then we should have incubator business parks where we can support fledgling businesses from the world class industries around Cambridge thus creating high value jobs. If we look towards Cambridge why are we not building more housing to provide a high quality of life for those who work in Cambridge, and what about having a transport strategy that supports this as well.

These are the core challenges facing the new Leader and I wish James all the very best and promise to support him in his endeavours to the best of my abilities.

Votes cast

So in the end I topped the poll for the Lakenheath Ward on Forest Heath District Council with 656 votes and the previous Conservative Councillor David Gathercole who decided to stand as an independant was also elected, my running mate Iain who worked so hard was a very respectable third and no doubt he will be back, we are going out canvassing and to say thank you for voting this Saturday morning.

The full result for Forest Heath District Council are as follows, (the star means elected):

All Saints Ward: *Geoffrey Jaggard (Conservative) 461, *Robin Millar (Conservative) 366, Hilary Radford (Lib Dem) 277, Christopher Turner (Lab) 313. Turnout 34%.

Brandon East Ward: *Bill Bishop (Conservative) 788, *Stephen Edwards (Conservative) 677, Annette Meadows (UKIP) 415, Peter Ridgwell (UKIP) 512, Reginald Silvester (UKIP) 460, *Eddie Stewart (Conservative) 585. Turnout 35%.

Brandon West Ward: Mark Allen (Lab) 263, *David Bimson (Conservative) 416, Lee Jacobs (Ind) 185, Abi Jones-Weetman (Ind) 193, Henry Kostecki (UKIP) 199, *Tony Simmons (Conservative) 296. Turnout 36%.

Eriswell and The Rows Ward: *David Bowman (Conservative) 582, David Chandler (Ind) 308, John Smith (Lib Dem) 358, *James Waters (Conservative) 667. Turnout 41%.

Exning Ward: Janet Anderson (Conservative) 291, *Ben Williams (Lib Dem) 372. Turnout 43%.

Great Heath Ward: Jason Alecock (Lib Dem) 254, Tom Caple (Lab) 233, Jim Lawrence (UKIP) 132, *Nigel Roman (Conservative) 435, *Tony Wheble (Conservative) 322, Dave Whitear (UKIP) 101. Turnout 33%.

Iceni Ward: Hilary Appleton (Lab) 217, *Rona Burt (Conservative) 485. Turnout 50%.

Lakenheath Ward: Iain Frost (Conservative) 416, *David Gathercole (Ind) 553, Carole Lucas (Ind) 326, *Colin Noble (Conservative) 656, Ian Smith (UKIP) 227, Richard Smith (UKIP) 116. Turnout 41%.

Manor Ward: Stephen Frost (Conservative) 308, *Tim Huggan (Lib Dem) 366. Turnout 54%.

Market Ward: Gill Caple (Lab) 261, Patrick Finn (Lab) 237, *John McGhee (Conservative) 615, Malcolm Smith (Conservative) 570. Turnout 34%.

Red Lodge (uncontested): *Roger Dicker (Conservative), *Andy Drummond (Conservative)

Severals: *Michael Anderson (Conservative) 663, *Warwick Hirst (Conservative) 637, *Rachel Hood (Conservative) 655, Ian Horner (Lib Dem) 237, Ian Radford (Lib Dem) 357, Joy Uney (Lab) 416. Turnout 28%.

South (uncontested): *Carol Lynch (Conservative)

St Marys: Ruth Allen (Ind) 451, *Chris Barker (Conservative) 540, Peter Clifton (Lab) 329, Dave Hudson (UKIP) 372, *Michael Jefferys (Lab) 473, *Bill Sadler (Conservative) 505, Sue Syvret (Conservative) 355. Turnout 33%.

So we conservatives increased our majority on the council from 20 to 22 out of 27, not bad and a testiment to how we run things with effeicent services and low council tax rises and the lowest actual Council tax element in Suffolk.

I am really pleased and honoured to represent the village where I live and the people I have grown up with on both the County Council and now the District Council as well.

In Norfolk 200,537 people cast a vote to say No2Av and 83,205 voted Yes2Av, that’s 70.7% saying no. In Suffolk 170,892 of us voted No2Av and 67,062 voted Yes2Av, in both counties that’s a very resounding NO!.

Across the Eastern region there was a 43.1% turn out which I thought was not bad and again across our region the final score was +34 Conservative Councillors, +73 Labour Councillors and -105 liberals, shame!

Out Campaigning with Robin Millar in Arfon

Me, and members of Robins team; Jonathan his Agent, Laura and Hannah who helped out with the day's canvassing, standing in front of the Bangor Harbour with the mountains of Snowdonia in the background. (Robin's not in the picture as he took it!)

Yesterday, as I was attending a conference on Rural Access to Care Services today and had to stay last night in Shrewsbury as it was not possible to make the start of the conference by train on the day, I had the bright idea that rather than travel early afternoon I would get up early and travel on a bit further to see an old friend of mine, Robin Millar. I know Robin from our campaigning in West Suffolk and the hard work he has put into his adopted home and community of Newmarket and Forest Heath, both a Mayor and a senior Councillor on Forest Heath District Council.

Robin is standing in his home town of Bangor, which is part of the new constituency of Arfon, Arfon has been created from two half’s of existing seats and has the cities of Bangor and Camargon at it’s heart. If you want to look at it on a map goes to North Wales and look for the coast line and Mountains that are opposite Anglesey and you have the Constituency.

Robin is from Bangor and his family has a long history of Welsh Conservatism as Robin’s Father was the Local Bangor Conservative Association Chairman.

Having had the briefest look at the Map I promising I would get up early the previous day and travel on a bit, Robin met me at the Bangor Train station which is actually two and a half hours further from on from Shrewsbury, in total a mere six hour journey from home.

Just before we went campaigning, Robin gave a me a whistle stop tour of Bangor and part of the Constituency and talked about it’s people, history and the challenges it faces. What a lovely place, sort of reminds of Cornwall 20 years ago before the London set found it and it got the ‘Chelsea on-Sea’ make-over.

We then when to the pier and met up with a young team of Jonathan, Robin’s agent, Laura and Hannah who came along to help.

So we set off and the first door I knocked at Sheila’s door, whom I discovered, when I asked did she vote and did she vote Conservative? She said ‘of course I do, Robin was born next door!’ and she went on to say to Robin that she would see him later at the Conservative meeting that evening, talk about on his home patch!

Next we went down some slate steps there is a lot of slate about as we were actually campaigning in the area around the original docks that once was where Welsh Slate was transported around the world from and met Mrs Bridgeworth resplendent in Hat and Green Cape, who proudly is 90 year old on the 8th of May and she was just popping home to see her home as she was being supported to visit her home as she was currently being in a care home in a village near Bangor, she was concerned about her home being empty whilst she was temporarily in the care home, I said do you want to meet Robin and called him over, she announced herself as ‘I’m Church and Conservative!’ Robin replied ‘me too Church and Conservative!’ She then explained to him why she was home and he promised to talk with the Community Police Officer to keep an eye on her home as they past from time to time.

As we went door to door, I rang one bell and from a balcony two stories above a voice boomed out YES WHAT DO YOU WANT, so I spun round peered up and said ‘I am out with Robin Millar, your Conservative Candidate in the forthcoming general election, can we count on your vote! Back came the response from on high ‘I HAVE ALWAYS VOTED LIBERAL, WAS A LIBERAL COUNCILLOR, AND ALWAYS WILL’ I cheekily called back ‘NEVER MIND!’ and beat a hasty retreat before a bucket of water came my way!

As we turned a corner we bumped into Plaid Cymru and competed down a street called ‘Fford Garth Uscaf’ at the end of which I got a wake up call in my thinking, a lady opened the door and I started up my words ‘Hello, I am out today with……….’ to which she replied ‘Oh no dear I shall be voting for Labour, poor Gordon has not been in the job long’ to which I replied, ‘well he was Chancellor for 11 years’ back came the reply ‘no dear it’s a world recession it’s not his fault’, opened jawed I thanked her for her time and moved on.

I know Robin was slightly surprised to see them as he confirmed to me that in his daily canvassing it was the first time he has seen them out!

Later back at the hotel in Shrewsbury, I googled Plaid Cymru and their candidate and frankly I simply could not work out why anyone would vote for them in Westminster election. What a place such as Arfon needs it a strong voice at Westminster, someone who knows how the Westminster village work and came be a strong voice in Government for Arfon and that’s Robin Millar!

If you can get to Arfon I would be pleased to share a car journey with you and I know Robin would appreciate the support from his adopted home for his native home.

Good Luck Robin, it’s about time Arfon has a strong voice in Westminster.

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