It’s not just candidates for the general election who are vying for your vote on June 8, polling booths will also be open for two other local elections in West Berkshire.
While Conservative MP Richard Benyon is looking to defend his Newbury parliamentary seat which he has held since 2005, residents in Thatcham South and Crookham will also be going to the ballot box to choose who fills the vacant seats for the ward on Thatcham Town Council and West Berkshire Council.
Both seats were held by Conservative councillor Roger Croft until his death in March, following a car crash in France the previous month which also claimed the life of his wife Zelda.
Over the next three weeks the Newbury & Thatcham Observer will be asking each candidate in all three elections what they would offer the area should they be elected.
This week, it’s the turn of the town council candidates.
Having lived in Thatcham my whole life and being a strong part of the community through my various roles with Thatcham Youth, Thatcham Heartstart and the neighbourhood wardens, I feel that standing in the election will be another way to help my community grow and develop into a place which people want to live.
My strong background in youth work 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 whilst housing is built for the benefit of the town it is also affordable for people.
My other priorities for the town are tackling issues such as anti-social behaviour and parking issues in the ward.
I am standing for Thatcham Town Council because in my work as a local primary school headteacher I have seen the positive impact that strong connections between different groups can have.
Greater engagement with the local council would help everyone feel part of our vibrant town. As a local resident for 16 years, I would work hard to improve our environment, with more encouragement for cycling and walking, and I would support getting a road bridge built at the station.
I would like to promote a greater variety of events involving people from across our community, especially sporting activities.
We urgently need new voices on our town council: 14 of the 18 current members belong to the same party, and vote the same way. That’s not good for democracy.
If elected, I will work hard to represent the interests of local people and help make Thatcham a happy, healthy town.
I have lived on Crookham Park with my wife Sue for almost four years. I believe I have the required experience to represent people in Thatcham South and Crookham, regardless of their status, ethnicity, social standing or sexual orientation.
I believe in inclusion for all; improving our transport services, providing care for the elderly and vulnerable, adherence of rights of the disabled and fair access to quality single tier education for all children.
Locally we have identified five problems that I feel require urgent attention: the lack of footpath / cycleway between The Travellers Friend pub and Thatcham Town FC; reducing the speed limit on Crookham Common Road to 40mph; to improve the present bus service along Crookham Common Road; to find a solution to the hold-ups at Thatcham level crossing; and to get a police officer ‘on the beat’ in every ward in West Berkshire but primarily around Thatcham and Crookham.
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.
I have lived in Thatcham for 12 years, started a business here, and now have two young children at Francis Baily Primary School in the town.
Over recent years I have become more and more alarmed by the cuts to services and the increases in council tax, which is what motivated me to stand for the council.
A vote for the Liberal Democrats at local level on June 8 is the same as at national level, in that we are the only credible opposition to hold the council to account and push back against Tory cuts.
I am an energetic, driven and passionate person who likes to get things done, so my aim would be to listen to the concerns of local residents and act on them whole-heartedly.