Birchington South by-election: Meet the candidates

The candidates

A by-election for the Birchington South seat at Thanet District Council takes place on July 26.

The seat is vacant following the death of Thanet Independent Councillor Alan Howes, aged 72, last May.

The former Black Cab driver passed away following a collapse.

Three candidates are standing for Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. UKIP and Thanet Independent Councillors have not put forward a candidate.

A hustings has been arranged, with all parties invited, to take place at the Birchington Village Centre on July 23 from 8.30pm. Unfortunately, it is understood that Lib Dem candidate Hannah Lloyd-Bowyer will be away and so unable to make the meeting and Conservative Linda Wright is also unable to make the date due to personal reasons.

All are invited to come along and ask questions. Tea and coffee will be provided.

The candidates

Helen Whitehead – Labour 

I am 37, an ex deputy head, and Thanet resident for the last 30 years. I qualified as a teacher in local secondary schools 11 years ago and have previously worked as a parliamentary liaison.

I also work with the admirable and nonpartisan Save Our NHS In Kent. We are working currently to stop our stroke unit moving to Ashford, as travelling over an hour to treatment is simply too long. In London the average transport time to a Hyper Acute Stroke Unit is just under ten minutes. Here it will be over an hour. That isn’t equality of care and it isn’t acceptable.

Our GP services also stand to be cut; reduced from 14 centres of care to three “super hubs”. This is happening without formal consultation. Vulnerable, rural, disabled or elderly populations could potentially suffer greatly due to this decision, and with no consultation there is no chance to make our voices heard in a legal sense. I don’t find that to be acceptable. Birchington is especially vulnerable considering both the rural location and transport system; I pledge to keep fighting to make sure that vital NHS services stay exactly where we need them.

Effective local politics is both vital and necessary. A good councillor can make a profound difference to their area; I know that I have the skills to do so, and I hope to be given the chance to show that.

Linda Wright – Conservative

I have lived in Birchington for almost 20 years and am passionate about the village, our community and all that it offers. As a parish councillor I have been active in working with residents to provide events and activities that people of all ages can enjoy.

Previously I served on Thanet District Council so I am well versed in the role and  responsibilities of a district councillor. You can be confident that I will always speak up for Birchington and ensure we receive the resources and funding that we need.

This is a crucial time for Thanet District Council, which is now back in Conservative control after the chaos of Ukip. We need experienced councillors who will put their  residents first and fight for the things that are important to you; whether that’s bringing planes back to Manston,  keeping our beaches at their best and parking charges fair to encourage more tourism or cracking down on rogue landlords and making sure everyone has access to a safe and suitable home.

The Local Plan is a challenge for Thanet and it’s crucial we get it right, to preserve the balance of coastal, urban and village life. Preservation and regeneration can go hand in hand, but only with a united community where people of all ages can be sure their voices will be heard.

You can call me on 07825 338999 or email [email protected]

Hannah Lloyd-Bowyer – Liberal Democrat

Hannah lives locally in Birchington with her husband and five year-old son.  After serving for almost six years in the Royal Air Force, she moved back to Kent to start family life and begin further education. Hannah is currently a student at Canterbury Christ Church University studying International-Relations and History.

Hannah is an active member of the Liberal Democrat party because she believes in the party’s ethos of fighting for a fair, free and open society. She rejects the use of hostile and insular tactics as a basis for political reasoning, as it creates a divide within communities.   It was the Lib Dem’s core values of liberty and equality in which became more relevant for her once she had her son, as it promotes an optimistic, kinder and more prosperous future.

Hannah is standing for election as the Birchington-South District Councillor as a Liberal Democrat representative.

It is the Liberal democrat approach in which promotes local government power as the foundation of a successful community and nation. Liberal democrats have always stressed the importance of community politics and the necessity to listen and communicate with local resident’s to improve concerns. Hannah will fight to ensure that public services are responsive to the needs of Birchington, with focus on family, environmental, and safety-based issues.

If elected as your representative, Hannah will use her previous experience to work for Birchington and be the voice of the community. She will run regular local surgeries for residents to meet and discuss issues, as well as being contactable via email.


  1. Stroke services are not dealt with by thanet district council neither are schools, so to be saying this will be the labour candidates main aims is useless as can’t be dealt with as a councillor for thanet. What is important is the housing and the local plan, assisting with the neighbourhood plan. Conservative candidate you’ve got my vote.

  2. Tory policies mean Birchington will have more houses than necessary, what’s the Conservative party on the possible closure bog our stroke unit.does the conservative candidate support the introduction of illegal parking meters in Birchington, vote conservative and get more of the same,stealth taxes and more cuts to services

  3. Hello, I’m from Save Our NHS in Kent, and want to reply to WJ’s point. I would like to see all TDC councillors standing up and making a fuss about the stroke plan. It’s one of the biggest issues facing us in Thanet right now. Once lost, we won’t get it back, and in fact it’s likely we could lose further services from QEQM. A councillor’s role can be many things, and being a voice for the electorate, publicising and campaigning, even on issues where that councillor does not have direct influence, is still very valuable. Councillors at all levels and our MPs should all be purple with rage about this matter, in my opinion. SONIK would like to see all of them being more vocal about it, using the platform they have as elected representatives to push home the point that locals are against this plan in HUGE NUMBERS. These points have to be made and have to be reiterated – Thanet doesn’t want this, the plan is based on insufficient evidence, and Ashford is too far.

    • Under the 2007 act TDC has a duty to promote health well being. It has been lying to CCG, QEQM, KCC and Public Health England.

      No one can plan healthcare without an assessment of likely disease. The area has highest COPD rates. But does Thanet have increased risk of stroke or aneurism ?

      In 2009 the then Health Protection Agency said there should be epidemiology inquiry. TDC have no entries in their contaminated land register. It was contaminated land and contaminated drinking water that caused Health Protection Agency to call for epidemiology inquiry.

      Contaminations include toxic chemical dumping at what is now Westwood Cross. Toxic dumping at Pegwell. The failure to check manston for USAF toxic legacy and legacy of toxic firefighting foam. There is also the Thor Chemicals and Sericol chemicals contaminations.

      The TDC history is so serious IMO I have named two cllrs (Both Labour as it happens) to Chief constable as having fulfilled all the tests for criminal misconduct in public office (which carries life imprisonment)

  4. A candidate who can’t make the hustings obviously isn’t taking it seriously. Maybe she doesn’t think she has a chance of winning so what’s the point?

    • A Candidate that booked her Holiday months before the By-election was even called .Plus it was to cancel or change that’s why Hannah can’t make the Hustings Believe me Hannah is good Candidate and will fight for what’s right for Birchington South

  5. A councillors job, county and district, is to defend their area against outside attack, that’s why I stand shoulder to shoulder with Helen in defending services in Thanet.

  6. The reason Hannah could not make the hustings is because as a family they booked their holiday months before the by-election was ever called; it was too late to cancel or change. But I can assure the residents of Birchington South that they could not vote for a better candidate.

  7. Well, that’s not true is it? The Liberal Democrats are the people who propped up David Cameron’s government allowing them to pursue a programme of austerity which has devastated public services. The Liberal Democrats are the people who voted through a massive hike in student loans which has left the next generation crippled by debt. The Liberal Democrats are the people who supported David Cameron enabling him to hold a Brexit referendum. Without the Liberal Democrats none of these things would have been possible.
    It’s important to hold politicians to account and the Liberal Democrats have to accept responsibility for the damage they have caused.

  8. In a time of a world financial crisis the Lib Dems went into coalition with the Conservatives. Directly attributed to the Lib Dems were: fairer taxes with over 3 million of the lowest earners lifted out of paying altogether with other tax reforms cutting tax breaks for the highest earners, the first ever green investment bank backing 44 green infrastructure projects, 2 million apprenticeships, introduced the pupil premium giving £1320 per puoil to eligible primary schools and £935 per secondary school pupil giving support to the most disadvantaged children, restored the li m between pensions and earnings, equal marriage for same sex couples, shared parental leave and free child care for 3 and 4 year olds, stopped routine detention of children in immigration cases. There is more if you are interested. The Lib Dems used their time in office to negotiate these important reforms. There were some downsides yes, we were the smaller party but rather than propping them up we moderated their austerity and used our time in power to help those who needed it most. There are never clear cut simple answers in complex situations. Unlike the Tories the Lib Dems did what they thought best for the country rather than the party.

  9. You must be living in a different world to the one I inhabit. Low earners may have been lifted out of tax but the prices of fuel, accommodation and just about everything else have driven more and more people into poverty. As the Institute of Financial Studies reported only this week spending on education, per pupil, has plunged under the Lib-Dem-Tory alliance. As for the rest of it, what one Earth is equal marriage for same-sex couples? It’s an irrelevance, that’s what it is. If that’s all you have to crow about for your spell in power, it’s best you aren’t given another opportunity.

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