On Thursday, May 6, residents in Thanet will go to the polls to have their say on who represents them at Kent County Council.
Electoral Divisions Number of County Councillors to be elected
Birchington and Rural Two
The candidates introduce themselves here:
Becky Wing (Green):
I’ve been privileged to serve as Green Councillor for Central Harbour ward on TDC and RTC for two years. I’ve always been active in the community: I chair Addington Street Community Group which runs the popular Revival Fair, and most weeks you’ll see me out gardening or litter-picking in my ward. I’m a former teacher and now work with vulnerable young people through Charlton Athletic Community Trust.
I’m standing for KCC because I firmly believe better TDC/KCC co-ordination would improve residents’ lives, enhance services and save money, and as an existing TDC Councillor I could help achieve that. Little things matter – drains, potholes, road verges and recycling facilities, for example, could all be dealt with better if Councils linked effectively! But I’d work on the big things too: I’m particularly concerned to improve our schools, reinstate youth services and ensure inward investment to create new job opportunities for young people.
Katie Gerrard (Green):
I live in Newington and have worked in charities and education as well as the private sector. My daughter’s at Royal Harbour and my son’s at primary school. I believe Councils must act to improve residents’ lives now, because the pandemic has put so much extra pressure on families. I’m especially concerned about how lengthy school closures have affected families – the impact on young people’s physical and mental health, and the effects on parents, particularly mothers who often carry most responsibility for home schooling.
As a Newington resident, I know only too well that some areas feel neglected by their local Councils. I believe Newington needs more attention from TDC, and in the same way, Ramsgate and East Kent deserve a lot better from KCC. So I’m standing for election both for Newington for TDC and for Ramsgate for KCC to try to make a difference for overlooked communities.
Mark Hopkinson (Labour)
I grew up in Ramsgate and am raising my family here. So defending our schools and public health services matters to me as much as it does to everyone else who lives here. I’m a secondary teacher and education researcher by profession and want to be a strong voice within KCC for Ramsgate’s schools, children and parents. I was elected as a district councillor in 2019 after being inspired to promote Community Wealth Building (encouraging local businesses and services to “buy local”). I’m proud to say I helped ensure that TDC now has a Community Wealth Building cabinet member taking this forward. I’ve written about this and about my views on schools recently.
As a County Councillor another priority for me would be championing and supporting Ramsgate’s many fantastic community and campaigning groups like Winterstoke Gardens & Eastcliff Projects, Our Kitchen, Save Our NHS in Kent and Newington Big Local.
Karen Constantine (Labour)
Being the Councillor for Ramsgate is a huge privilege. Please put your trust in me to continue to work 24/7 for a fairer future. I’m responsive, proactive, transparent (http://karen4labour.uk) taking forward many issues including,
Getting the streetlights back
Campaigning to stop QEQM Stroke unit closing – taking a Judicial Review, calling public meetings on health
Casework for residents including employment difficulties
Getting a Mental Health Summit
Exposing environmental, animal welfare issues
Challenging child poverty, inequality, unemployment
Backing many organisations with grants and practical help
Supporting local businesses
Exposing Tory pay-rise greed
I’ve supported thousands of residents, from individuals to fighting for PPE in Care Homes, to getting a protective screen in A&E, to supporting parents with education and welfare issues. I’ve collected Christmas gifts for hard-pressed families, helped food banks, cleaned up beaches, delivered laptops for students and put women’s safety on the agenda.
I’m the councillor you know and trust.
If re-elected I will continue to be your powerful elected voice.
Christian Burwash (Conservative)
Christian Burwash works in Thanet schools providing training in fencing, archery and other sports. Two of his interests are youth and environment. He founded ‘Disability’, a group created to provide sporting and other activities for disabled children and is involved in the co-ordination of litter picks in Pegwell and Ramsgate.
Trevor Shonk (Conservative)
Trevor Shonk has lived in Ramsgate all his life and has served as Mayor of Ramsgate, Town Councillor, District Councillor and County Councillor. He’s Chairman of Monkton Nature Reserve and supported it for 25 years. He knows crime, highways and health are key issues in Ramsgate and will hold regular surgeries if elected.
George Rusiecki (Thanet Independents)
I worked at Manston Airport in air traffic control for a number of years as an RAF serviceman and also a civilian. I have a commercial fishing boat in Ramsgate harbour. I am therefore fully committed to seeing both those key areas given every chance to succeed. I have been working to find investors for both ventures. I have enjoyed working with local people since elected in the by-election in 2016 and have served on the overview and scrutiny committee, the planning committee and the maritime working group. If you elect me I will continue to work for the benefit of local people,
Paul Messenger (Independent)
I’ve been a resident in Margate and Ramsgate for over 60 years. I have been fortunate to represent Ramsgate at Kent County Council for the last 4 years and I feel there’s still much I can try to improve for the area. KCC have 4 main areas of responsibility namely, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Highways and Waste and Economic Development.I have served on 4 Committees and also served on school transfer appeals. Locally, I want to carry on helping all needing assistance within the KCC remit. There is still much work I can do to help the development of the Port and Marina plus the ongoing development of Manston Airport. I also want to make sure that Cliffsend residents are not adversely affected by the introduction of Parkway station which I have opposed vigorously over the past 2 years.
I hope to continue opposing the Brett Aggregates operations at the Port and continue the great work of the late Steve Coombs.
As an Independent I answer to no Party Leader or Party officials that may not have the best interests of Ramsgate residents at heart.
David Banks (Liberal Democrats) and Gail Banks (Liberal Democrats)
Gail and David moved to Thanet from London 4 years ago. After working in care and education for many years, Gail is involved with the Gap Project in Broadstairs. Gail comments, “I am standing as your candidate as I know that the Lib Dems excel at cooperation. It is through challenging the Tory majority, and different parties working together, that Thanet residents will receive the best services from KCC. Covid-19 has highlighted the value of caring, and we must help those most affected, including NHS staff and care workers getting the recognition they deserve. Voluntary carers need respite breaks and advice with a simplified application process. ‘Long Covid’ sufferers need prompt, appropriate support. Access to counselling and mental health services must be improved. After a year of disruption, we want to ensure that everything is done to help children and young people catch up with their education.”
David adds “I love this fascinating & historical area. My grandad served in the Buffs in World War 1 as an East Kent man, and on retiring here I feel I have returned home.
This past year has been so challenging for many. All councillors need to be accountable to everyone in our community, not slavishly following a single party line. I especially support key public services, including all that reduce volumes of cars on our streets, in particular improved bus services, better transport integration, network wide ticketing, to make travel around the area more practical and affordable.
Grahame Birchall (Independent)
Grahame says he is an unashamed champion of Ramsgate and Thanet, “the jewels in Kent’s crown” as he calls it. He is leading the GRIT campaign for changing the system of local government here in Thanet, starting with our residents’ right to hold a local referendum for a directly elected council leader. This alone, he says, will strengthen the powers invested in communities like Ramsgate Town Council and its electors. Grahame’ campaign will ultimately lead to removing Thanet from KCC, and put it under a more open, transparent, accessible and accountable unitary authority. His campaign website is at www.grit.how.
Grahame is a self-employed businessman who has served as an activist in both the Labour and Conservative parties over the last 30 years. He was President of the Whitstable Chamber of Commerce for 4 years, and as a councillor he served under two completely different systems of government in Canterbury, which gave him vast experience in how to bring long overdue changes in Thanet, which will help remove the more deleterious effects of party politics. “
Rosalind Binks (Conservative)
The past year has been tough but also shown just how lucky we are to live in Broadstairs and St. Peter’s. Seaside walks, fresh air, local shops, plenty of community spirit. Of course it can be improved; nowhere’s perfect. In 11 years as a Town councillor and 4 as a County councillor, I’ve worked with many others to make those improvements, investing in the town’s heritage assets, helping residents and local organisations, protecting what remains of our green environment, making the town fit for tomorrow and not yesterday, but without losing the good bits that make the place so unique.
County Hall is not a career move; it’s an opportunity to bang the drum for the town’s residents, making sure their issues are heard loud and clear. We are not the most deprived in Kent, but we could still do with some help. So a strong voice is needed there because KCC decisions affect us all: from education to care; environment to tourism.
Aram Rawf (Labour)
I work and live in Broadstairs. I have been known in Broadstairs for many years for volunteering in local events, and with St John Ambulance. During the pandemic with a group of local residents we set up Coronavirus Support for over 70s in Broadstairs. I have also being a volunteer at our local GP vaccination centre, as well as working in my ward as Broadstairs and Thanet District Councillor.
I was elected as a TDC and Town councillor for Beacon Ward in 2019 and since then I have been working closely with local groups to bring improvements to the ward. My priorities will be education, health care, jobs, housing, roads, traffic, and social welfare. I will be working closely with local groups, local businesses, agencies and police to tackle anti social behavior and make Broadstairs a better place for all.
Cllr Mike Garner (Green)
I’m Leader of the Green Group on Thanet District Council, and represent St Peters on TDC and Broadstairs Town Council. Both TDC and KCC have declared Climate Emergencies, but unless they show determined practical action to deliver on their declarations, these are just words.
I believe I would bring useful skills and knowledge to KCC, as well as improving links with TDC. Since my election in 2019, I’ve worked with residents’ groups to create new play areas and protect green spaces, and with the Tree Warden to encourage new planting and build biodiversity across the Isle. If I’m elected I will push for KCC to take simple, effective measures to improve biodiversity and tree cover in Thanet, to adopt transport policies that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists, creating safer and more welcoming neighbourhoods, to improve local co-ordination of health & social care services and to bring high-quality green jobs into Thanet.
Robert Stone (Liberal Democrats)
Robert Stone lives in Broadstairs, where he is co-owner and manager of The Bay Tree Hotel. His priorities include supporting the local bus services around Thanet, and also wants lower speed limits and safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, plus he is in favour of measures to protect our green spaces.
Robert wants to promote Kent, and Thanet in particular, to visitors, where they can support the local tourism economy. Robert wants additional support for Kent’s carers and the promotion of better physical and mental health and well being for all.
Michelle Thomas (Green)
I’m a communications specialist working mainly in the entertainment industry, so I’ve witnessed Covid’s devastating economic effects.
Cliftonville West needs intensive support, which KCC should be leveraging by working with other agencies. By prioritising areas like Cliftonville, KCC could dramatically improve our economy and job prospects.
Cliftonville West’s waste management situation is totally unacceptable: if elected, I’ll push TDC and KCC to get this sorted.
KCC must rebuild around people, not cars, to improve our quality of life and help address climate change – and deliver on its climate emergency declaration, or Cliftonville will be under water soon!
As a single parent of a high-needs child, I’m particularly concerned to ensure KCC’s spending on education and support services is well-targeted and does what it’s supposed to.
I’m an active campaigner – with XR, on Black Lives Matter and on social and environmental issues. If I’m elected, I will stand up for Cliftonville!
George Metcalfe (Liberal Democrats)
George Metcalfe has 12 years of local government experience in Westminster and Canterbury where he served as Lord Mayor (2016 – 2017). 36 years as the owner of public relations companies working in 30 countries including 25 years as a management and coaching consultant. He spent 29 years as a mentor for the Prince’s Trust helping young people to set up their own businesses. He is also a trustee for Catching Lives, a local charity for the homeless.
George says “Cliftonville looks down at heel and has evident problems, but it also has huge potential. With the revival of Manston airport, a new railway station and improved roads connecting Thanet with London and Dover, you have a foundation for the people of Thanet to build their own future on, which desperately needs the dynamism and influence of the Liberal Democrats.”
Lesley Game (Conservative)
Having lived in Cliftonville for many years and served as a District Councillor, I know the issues that face and concern us here. As parents: bullying, especially on social media; availability of good school places; mental health and discrimination of all kinds. Also, what affects us all: anti-social behaviour and crime, parking, an easily accessible health service, care of the elderly, jobs for our youngsters and having a safe and prosperous environment to live in. As your County Councillor I am dedicated to improving the quality of life for us all and if re-elected will continue to work for this.
Helen Whitehead (Labour)
I’m Helen, and I’m the Deputy Leader of Thanet District Council, holding the Housing portfolio. My background is education, having previously been a Deputy Head specialising in additional educational needs. I Chair the Health and Wellbeing Board, and work with and alongside County representatives.
I’m standing for Cliftonville because as a resident for nearly fifteen years with a young son it is incredibly important to me that we create a community that provides for all residents. Supporting and strengthening all communities to be visible and vocal is vital; as an autistic woman I am well aware of this, and I am, we believe, the first autistic Deputy Leader in the UK. I am determined to represent my community at County level so that we are heard when discussing issues that affect us, including additional needs education.
The point of politics is to serve; I promise to continue doing so.
Kanndiss Riley (Women’s Equality Party)
Kandiss Riley will be standing for the Women’s Equality party. The businesswoman is passionate about education, health and anti-violence against women.
She said: “I am contesting the Cliftonville Kent County Council seat on behalf of the Women’s Equality Party and wish to create a Sanctuary County, where we can proudly offer a haven to people fleeing violence. I am an intersectional equal rights activist and I don’t give up easily.
“With over 10 years of campaigning and community work, I would like to bring that passion to Cliftonville as I represent them on Kent County Council. Together, we have the ability to reform outdated systems ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities.”
Josh Simms (Social Democratic Party)
Statement to come
Barry Lewis (Labour)
Continue to be your full time Councillor and refuse to accept any pay rise from the council.
Listen to you, your concerns and views. Always, respond to you promptly.
Tirelessly combat poverty, working with and supporting projects and other social enterprises and initiatives.
Work with you, in the community, supporting and helping community groups and Charites.
Protect and celebrate our beaches, parks and communal spaces to improve your environment.
Champion independent shops, small businesses, jobs and Tourism. Which needs much help now, following the Covid Pandemic.
Already worked to:
Tackling Food Poverty
Improving Road Safety
Reaching out to the Community:
Campaigning to maintain our hospital services at QEQM, particularly A & E.
Combating Fly Tipping
Ash Ashbee (Conservative)
I’ve lived in Thanet since 1987 and worked in the insurance industry before changing direction to residential property development, and successfully rebuilding and running four restaurants/cafes in Thanet. I believe Thanet needs and deserves a strong voice at KCC to ensure our district is not overlooked or underfunded in services and key decisions that affect our lives. I was first elected to Thanet District Council in 2015 and my experience as a district councillor means I will be an effective representative for the town at county level. I believe in good two-way communication and would work with residents and businesses to listen to views and concerns and do my best to help find solutions. Above all I would seek to protect all that makes Margate so special, while securing the investment we need to ensure a better future.
Sue Rees (Green)
I grew up in the Medway towns but have known Thanet well since my parents moved to Westgate in the 1970s. I’m retired and volunteer at the Pilgrims Hospice bookshop in Margate, which I love.
I’m standing as a candidate because I believe TDC and KCC need to co-ordinate services better, particularly on waste and recycling. As a seaside resort in a fishing area, Margate must act on the rubbish piling up in streets and on beaches, and the plastic and other waste going into our oceans, which adversely affects tourism and jobs as well as the quality of all our lives. My block of flats and many others like it have no recycling facilities – a crazy situation in a climate emergency!
Litter picking volunteers work wonders, but they cannot and should not be a substitute for properly co-ordinated services from TDC and KCC. The whole system needs a complete overhaul.
John Finnegan (Liberal Democrats)
My name is John Finnegan and have lived in Margate for over forty five years. I enjoy helping the Community I live in, and over the last few years have worked hard to make life easier for the most needy in our community. This is why I am standing in the Kent County Council election because we need Councillors that care about the people they are representing and the area where they live.
Birchington and Rural
Bertie Braidwood (Thanet Independents)
I’m extremely pleased and excited to announce that I’ll be standing as a candidate in next months KCC elections
I’ve achieved real positive change in Westgate as a back bench district Councillor and with your help, I can make even bigger changes to the area you live in.
The boundary for the area I’m standing in is huge and covers Westgate, Westbrook, Garlinge, parts of Margate, Birchington, St Nicholas, Minster and Monkton meaning more people can vote for me!
I’ll need entire households to support me if I’m to have a realistic chance of being elected so please ask your friends and family to support me
If you want an independent voice in KCC with no whip and without the constraints of party politics then now is the chance to vote for me. Over 9000 leaflets will be hand delivered over the next few weeks so keep a look out.
Instead of stating a long list of the usual pre election promises, I’ve used the motto ‘𝐀𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐬 𝐋𝐨𝐮𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬’ giving examples of the positive changes I’ve previously made and to demonstrate I’m a hard working pro active and reactive Councillor
Rob Yates (Labour)
Hello, my name is Rob Yates and I will be a strong voice for Acol, Birchington, Flete, Garlinge, Minster, Monkton, Sarre, St Nicholas-at-Wade, and Westgate-on-Sea at Kent County Council. I live in Margate, have been the Cabinet Member for Finance at Thanet District Council for the last two years and want to see the area thrive.
As the new Kent County Councillor for Birchington and Rural I will speak up for concerns about new housing numbers, be a strong voice against Rural crime, ensure proper consultations on highway schemes, protect our vital public services, and work to support local businesses and other organisations, such as parish councils, town councils, charitable and voluntary groups in the covid recovery.
I am a keen advocate for addressing climate change and proposed the successful 2030 climate motion at Thanet District Council and want KCC to improve on their 2050 target. Any questions, get in touch.
Abi Smith (Green)
I love living in Westgate and am actively involved in the community. I’ve worked in Thanet Libraries and Kent Community Health, and as a volunteer for several years with Thanet Citizens’ Advice, which gave me an insight into the people’s resilience in this area and the daily challenges they face.
I believe vested interests, including developers who would turn our beloved farmland into housing, threaten our coastal community. We should not let their plans dictate our lives uncontested.
I know how services like libraries fulfil many functions: educating and informing people, bringing them together, providing a focus for local activities and safe place for parents to take children, and giving people online access. If KCC cuts services like this to save a little money, the damage will be considerable.
I also believe KCC must work with bus companies so rural residents can travel safely, comfortably and affordably for work and leisure.
Rob Edwards (Green)
I’m 28 and have lived in Westgate for most of my life, working at the Carlton Cinema, delivering papers, planting trees and helping with community campaigns.
To represent their communities most effectively, I believe Councils need a range of ages amongst their elected members, which is certainly not the case with KCC at present! As well as representing the residents of my Division, as a younger Councillor I would also strive to present the viewpoint of under-30s, who have suffered particularly harshly during the pandemic.
I’m regional manager for a gym chain and if elected would work to ensure that KCC takes a much more proactive approach to public health in future. Better-managed open spaces, outdoor gyms, much improved cycling & walking facilities and an emphasis on family-friendly activities are affordable and would pay dividends. Ramsgate Town Council’s Active Ramsgate initiative provides a local model that could be followed elsewhere.
Derek Crow-Brown (Conservative)
Linda Wright (Conservative)
I’ve worked as a healthcare professional and carer and am currently supporting a family member with mental health issues, so I understand the difficulties people can face navigating the care system. Covid has presented many challenges in education, health, wellbeing, mental health and social care and as your county councillor I would work with residents to tackle these.
I have 11 years’ experience as a district and parish councillor which together with my career and personal experience has given me a wealth of skills I would use at a county level. We need to balance the needs and wishes of residents with visitors and businesses in everything from the economy to the environment. I support the re-opening of Manston as an airport to bring more jobs and training, particularly for younger people who may not be academically minded.
Jeremy De Rose (Liberal Democrats)
Jeremy de Rose is a director of a Manston-based railway service company, and a bicycle business in Margate. Jeremy is passionate about the contribution Lib Dems can make. All over the country we see Lib Dem councillors supporting recycling schemes, giving real importance to people’s mental health and treating carers as important as any other professional. Also, Lib Dems believe in a modern, efficient public transport system which serves all the community.
Martyn Pennington (Liberal Democrats)
Martyn Pennington is a member of the Westgate on Sea Town Council and works with the Margate Independent Foodbank. He is standing for KCC because he believes they fail to connect with Thanet and don’t consult local people as they should (for instance when they tried to introduce a one-way system in Westgate which failed). “Thanet needs hope – the best schooling for all our children, jobs in our local businesses, adequate care for those who need it, and a cleaner and greener environment.”
Edwin Handford (Reform UK)
I’ve spent my entire life living in and around the Thanet area so I have a good working knowledge of most Thanet issues and the resident’s concerns. I currently live in Birchington; this will be my 36th year of living here and I’m proud to call it home.
I only work part time now and indeed choose my own work times so I definitely have the necessary time, commitment, understanding and passion to represent my local area to the best of my ability at county level should I be fortunate enough to be elected.
Residents will also vote in three Thanet by-elections and for a Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. Details of nominees for those polls will be online shortly