LOCAL Liberal Democrats have turned to a familiar face in a bid to help win over voters in the upcoming double by-election.
The October vote holds added significance for the party, who lost the confidence of the electorate nationally in May’s General Election, as the two seats in question – Goldsworth East and Goldsworth West – have been vacated by retiring Lib Dem Councillors Amanda and Denzil Coulson.
And in a bid to defend their patch and prevent the surrender of an even greater majority in the Council Chamber, the Lib Dems have called in a candidate with proven firepower.
Stalwart Tina Liddington, a former mayor of Woking and stalwart councillor in the Hermitage & Knaphill ward before she was ousted in the May Local Election, will contest the Goldsworth West seat.
She is a well established member of the local community and lives in Knaphill. Indeed, the party are hoping to tap into the Whole Lotta Love for their candidate.
Tina’s attitude is ‘less is more’ when it comes to Woking’s often controversial approach to local development, and will seek to offer balance to a Conservative-heavy local authority. She added: “I know that children need places to go and play, but many local residents and I think the council’s plans are just too much and not thought through. There are concerns over a lack of parking and noise affecting nearby homes.
If elected, I will work with Ian Eastwood, current Lib Dem Councillor for Goldsworth West, and listen to residents’ concerns, fighting their corner on the council.”
Tina’s campaign runs in tandem with that of Goldsworth East runner James Sanderson. A Woking-man through and through, he has four children who all attend – or have previously attended – Goldsworth Primary School.
Mr Sanderson, who boasts time as an elected councillor in one of the London boroughs, wants to save money by preserving local services – such as the Kestrel Way Recycling Centre.
Council chiefs recently announced plans to close the site in favour of industrial units.
“Lots of residents do not want to lose a local recycling centre, and no one wants more huge industrial units built on Kestrel Way – the council made a mistake in allowing ugly industrial units to dominate this area of Goldsworth Park, it should not repeat that mistake,” said Mr Sanderson.
“The council has not thought through its plans. There’s no point penny pinching by closing the recycling centre and
then having to clear up more fly-tipping.
“It has not justified why our area needs yet more industrial units when many stand empty now, and has not explained how the area will cope with more HGVs and parked cars.”
Woking Borough Council currently comprises 36 members – 24 of whom are from the Conservative Party.
Woking Lib Dem Party Leader, Councillor Will Forster, wants a change in that dynamic but will have to wait until 2016 when the council will be cut to 30 and all seats are vacated for re-election.
He said: “As the principle opposition group, the Lib Dems are the only ones that can keep the ruling Conservatives in check and we are hoping to strengthen the Lib Dem opposition to the Tory administration in Woking.”
BUOYED by their success in May’s Local Elections, Woking’s Labour Party reckon they have unearthed a couple of candidates who are a cut above.
Jay Butcher (Goldsworth East) and Robina Shaheen (Goldsworth West) are doing all they can to follow in the footsteps of Councillors Mohammad Ilyas Raja and Tahir Aziz – both representatives for the Maybury & Sheerwater ward – who kickstarted a Labour love-in on the council following a seven-year barren spell at the polls.
Cllr Raja was first victorious in 2014, and helped pave the way for Cllr Aziz’s triumph just a year later.
Mr Butcher (above), a Goldsworth resident of four years, takes a strong interest in the charity sector and has a passion for helping people find a voice. He added: “I’ve also worked on a range of issues including climate change, governance and corruption, domestic violence, and hunger, mostly directed at national governments.”
Ensuring a just response to the refugee crisis locally; fighting against poverty wages; taking action against poor council and housing association property repairs; challenging council debt; and protecting the green belt are among his election promises.
“I am passionate about taking what I’ve learned and enabling residents in Goldsworth East to make their voices heard,” he said.
Meanwhile, over the boundary, Robina describes herself as someone who likes to go out of her way to help others.
“I feel strongly about the local issues,” she explained. “I have lived in Woking from a very young age and attended both Goldsworth Primary and Woking High Schools and, as a single parent, I am familiar with all the issues single parents face.
“I am an ex-driving examiner and am now self employed as a driving instructor. I’m also the Women’s Officer for the Woking Labour Party.
“In the past I have been a volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau, which I thoroughly enjoyed and it gave me the confidence and stepping stone to become who I am.”
WOKING has flown the blue flag in recent election history, and local Conservatives are bidding to plant their banner in Goldsworth ground come October.
Chitra Rana (Goldsworth West) and Sonia Elbaraka (Goldsworth East) are the ones charged with conquering Goldsworth and joining sitting Conservative Councillors Rizwan Shah and Hilary Addison on the local authority.
He lives with his family in Golds-worth West and is Chairman of the British Gurkha Veterans Society, Woking, as well as a member of the Knaphill Branch of the Royal British Legion. Key to his ambition is the rebuilding of Lake-view Community Centre.
He explained: “After serving my country in the Army I am very excited about having the opportunity to serve my local community and have really enjoyed meeting residents and talking about local issues.”
Meanwhile, Mr Rana’s counterpart in the Goldsworth East race, Sonia, is eager to give back after growing up in the borough.
The former Horsell Church of England and Woking High School student is standing for councillor for the first time. But that doesn’t mean the debutant is short on experience.
She has already succeeded in getting the common areas in Cobbetts Way repainted and says she will make it a priority to improve the character of the local area by campaigning to have footpaths tidied up, graffiti tackled and dangerous overhanging trees cut back.
As a councillor she says she will also ensure that the new Lakeview Community Centre in Sythwood is delivered after a new rebuilding project was approved by Woking Borough Council, and to ensure that Goldsworth East residents benefit from the council’s town centre regeneration.
She said: “I’m standing for election for the first time because I want to stand up for my local community. I’ve lived in Woking since childhood and am passionate about getting things done. Please give me your support on October 8.”
WOKING’S UKIP contingent are hoping that their steadfast approach to preserving local green belt space will help them land a first-ever seat on the council.
Mr Read in particular is keen to upset the established order, and went as far as to say that any vote other than for UKIP will have been a wasted one.
A Woking resident of 18 years, he explained: “The local council is dominated by a Conservative majority. Two Lib Dems have just resigned: electing another Tory or Lib Dem will achieve very little.
UKIP also make reference to creating more off-road parking; repairing potholes in problem areas; and holding referenda for all major developments in their by-election manifesto.