THE Westbury Town Council by-election will be held on Thursday 22nd April.
The election will fill the two vacant seats for the Ham ward on Westbury Town Council. The election has been called to fill the seats left vacant by the resignations of longstanding councillors Charlie Finbow and Derek Hulin who both handed in their notice in March.
The candidates are; Stephen Miles, Derry O’Hara and Em Underwood and White Horse News asked each of them to explain why they came forward, what they saw as the issues in Westbury and why they should have your vote. Here is what they said:
Stephen Miles, who moved to Westbury 10 months ago and will stand as an independent. Stephen is a retired musician, and is involved with the Choral Society and the Westbury Music and Arts Festival.
He said, “I’ve always been interested in local politics and when I lived in Warminster I was involved in local politics as a campaigner. I’ve been in Westbury some time now and thought it was time to get back involved.
“I agree we have to keep the pool. Even if, and it’s a big if, there is another pool built on a new school site, I think we’d still need two. Westbury is a developing town and I think it would soon find itself needing two pools. It’s a historic building and must be kept.
“The weight restriction on the bridge is another issue. There are two issues here, one is that not all cars and lorries are obeying it and the second is that there is a lot more heavy traffic going through the town. I’m a great believer in more 20mph speed limits in Westbury.
“If elected I would hopefully bring a bit of calm to the council. I went to a town council meeting and was very disappointed. There seems to be some people who just want to argue all the time. It’s not good for the running of the council, or for the regard the electorate have for the council.
“I have expertise and knowledge in areas of local government and I would use these to get more work done for the community. I would also want to improve councillor contact with the people, I want local people to be confident they have a councillor who will take something up and do something about it.”
Derry O’Hara runs The Angel pub on Edward Street with her husband John. She is a member of the Church Street Residents’ Association and has joined the campaign to save Westbury’s pool. She will stand as an Independent councillor.
She said, “As a local businesswoman and as a long standing resident of this town, I feel that I now have the time and commitment to put something back in to our town.
“Because my husband and I run a pub in the heart of the town centre we chat to people all day long about their concerns and issues locally, and believe I can be a strong voice for the town and its people.
“I want to fight to keep Westbury Swimming Pool. My mother learned to swim there and I learned to swim there as did my children, it absolutely must stay. Apart from that it is one of the most historic buildings in the town, it is part of Westbury’s Heritage.
“We need to look after our businesses better and ensure that they are given the support that they need. I am also passionate in believing that we need to offer the youths of the town something more to do, i.e. the local skate park needs a shelter and floodlights, and these will be some of just a few of my focuses in the future should I have the great honour of people placing their trust in me to work for them and our great town.”
“People should vote for me because I am maturely independent minded and have the town’s future, and the residents’ of the town’s best interests at heart.
Em Underwood is a retired businesswoman and is involved in organising Westbury Film Nights and volunteers at the Dorothy House Shop on the High Street. She will stand as a Conservative candidate.
She said, “I stood in the last election and come from a political background. My husband was a town councillor, a district councillor and a county councillor in Trowbridge and I have always been involved with the Conservatives.
“The first issue is the two hours free parking, because without the two hours parking the town is liable to die after the first glimmers of it getting back on its feet.
“I also think that Westbury’s flooding problems should be a priority for the town councillors who purport to represent the people of Westbury. I also think the pool should be saved for the people of Westbury and for continuity of heritage.”
“I have a vast knowledge of local government acquired over a lifetime and having lived in Europe for 14 years I can look at the whole picture with a different angle.”
“I have experience running my own business both here and abroad. I have lived in Westbury since 2006 but have always had connections here, mostly through my parents, for over 30 years.
“Although I am standing as a Conservative, I will work with councillors of any party to achieve what’s best for Westbury.”
The polling stations for Westbury are: United Reformed Church, Church Hall, The Butts; Bell Orchard, Field Close; Westbury Methodist Church, Station Road; Westbury Youth Centre, Eden Vale Road. Polling stations will be open from 7.00am to 10.00pm.