Thanet district election: Birchington, Thanet Villages and Westgate

Election time

District and town/parish council elections will be held on May 4.

At district level candidates are vying for 56 seats to represent 23 electoral wards.

Voters will need to show photographic ID to be able to cast their vote. See full list of photo ID accepted at GOV.UK

If you do not have any of the accepted photo ID, and you want to vote at the polling station, you will need to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate. This is a free photographic identification document specific for the purposes of voting. Apply here

Postal voters will not be affected and will be issued with their postal ballot papers as usual.

All profiles are submitted by candidates in their own words

Birchington North

Colin Brown – Labour

Colin moved to Birchington ten years ago after he retired. He had been chief executive of Blind Independence Greenwich, getting visually impaired people into work, helping them reach their potential, and breaking down barriers. Colin is registered blind and is currently waiting for his guide dog.

One of his biggest achievements is setting up the Blind Business Association to help blind people start their own businesses. Working with a team, Colin successfully fundraised to set up this impactful initiative.

In his spare time, he enjoys going tandem quad bike riding along the seafront, run by local charity Wheelability Minnis Bay.

Colin’s aim is to make local services accessible to all. One in five people in the UK have a disability, but even in Birchington there are many barriers to disabled people enjoying their community. Adjustments are not expensive or complicated, but someone needs to advocate for these changes to be made.

If elected, this will be Colin’s mission. He may not have his sight, but he is an excellent listener and with your support can make positive changes to Birchington.

Simon Day – Thanet Independents

I am a local man born here in Birchington.

My wife previously served as a Practice Nurse here. My family history in Thanet goes back generations. I have three children who all live here in the ward and two grandchildren. I have extensive knowledge of the local community and the issues that concern residents. Since being first elected in 2003 I have served and Chaired all the main Committees gaining a sound knowledge of the role of a local representative. I am pleased to be standing with David and we look forward to the opportunity to serve this community as members of the Thanet Independents putting local people first.

David Hart – Thanet Independents

I have enjoyed serving the Thanet villages for the last 4 years. I have served as Vice Chairman of Thanet District Council, been an active member of the Planning Committee and contributed to the reviewing of the Council’s Constitution.

I have also served on The Joint Transportation Board as a District Council representative. My partner and I own Birchington Pet Shop, which gives me a good insight into local issues. I am now semi-retired which gives me the ability to spend time dealing with council matters. I am a member of the local Rotary Club, an ex RNLI crew member and have lived here for over 15 years. I have two dogs and am often seen walking this ward with them, between Epple Bay and Minnis Bay.

George Kup – Conservative

I have been a district councillor for Birchington South for the past four years and I am currently the cabinet member for community safety and youth engagement. I grew up in Birchington North and it’s where my family home is. I have so many amazing memories growing up in Birchington, from living in my first family home in Epple Bay Road to spending nights at our beach hut at Minnis Bay after school.

Like many, Birchington is a place I love and that is just one of the reasons I am determined to make sure we have councillors who will work hard for our village. I have ensured residents’ views from across Birchington are heard at Thanet District Council. I worked hard to get free parking in Alpha Road car park on Saturdays in December for the past two years to help our local businesses, established the first Youth District Council, secured funding for Crispe Park, fought to get our public toilets refurbished, I have consistently stood up against the Local Plan; voicing your concerns to help protect agricultural land and importantly the village we all love and most recently worked along side Reece Pugh to get our crabbing pool fixed in time for summer.

Mario Portelli – Labour

Mario is semi-retired security fire, health, and safety professional, with a career that has spanned a wide variety of arenas, including the armed forces, where he served for nine years in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.

After 13 years in the aviation fire service, he was proud to be part of the safety team at the British Museum, before being on the opening team overseeing the safety and security of two luxury hotels in Central London.

In the last decade he has embraced life by the sea, participating in various community volunteer groups, and he is ambitious for Thanet’s future.

Reece Pugh- Conservative

I live in Minnis Bay with my wife and young son and am currently a district councillor for Thanet Villages, and deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development at Thanet District Council.

As deputy leader, I have led significant regeneration projects for the district, including the Margate Town Deal and two Levelling Up Funds. I have fought hard for TDC to maintain our wonderful beaches, including Minnis Bay, Grenham Bay and Epple Bay, and will continue to do so, and I have worked to ensure coastal bins are emptied, and dog fouling is tackled.

Throughout my time as a councillor, I have worked tirelessly to support local businesses and promote job creation across Thanet. I made it my mission to campaign against development of farmland and to prevent overdevelopment in the villages. Most recently, I worked with George Kup to get our crabbing pool fixed and together we took swift action to move the travellers on from Minnis Bay.

Lucy Williams – Green

I’m Thanet born and bred: I grew up in Birchington, brought my family up here and live in Minnis Bay, so I know the area well and share some of the concerns expressed by residents. I’m an academic researcher with a particular focus on migration, and I teach part-time at the University of Kent.

I’m a keen swimmer and am horrified by the pollution of our seas & beaches by Southern Water – a key issue for my Green Party colleagues at Thanet District Council, which I’m eager to help them tackle.

If I’m elected, I’ll listen to residents and do all I can to support them to sort out problems with Council services. I will campaign to improve our natural environment and make Thanet a sustainable place for everyone to live well and thrive.

Birchington South

Emma Dawson – Conservative

Having been a Birchington resident for 11 years, I hold the village close to my heart. I have previously been a district councillor and in 2017 was elected to represent Birchington on Kent County Council, so my experience and knowledge stretches broadly across both councils. I’ve dedicated time throughout my two terms to many successful projects and will always commit my time to residents, giving straight answers even if sometimes unpopular. When public concern was high, I pushed for the crossing outside Ursuline School, and when green space was required for the common good, I helped facilitate the transfer of the recreational ground in Birchington to the Parish Council. I will continue to work in the same way, to give you clear answers to improve your experience or issue.

Phil Fellows – Conservative

I am your current district councillor, a Birchington Parish Councillor, and a Trustee of The Village Centre. I am involved with many groups and organisations and have been involved with the return of assets back to the parish such as Dog Acre and the Recreation Ground. As your district councillor I can continue to support the parish council to achieve its ambitions and the many benefits that will bring. I will continue to fight against the mass developments on agricultural land; this has always been my aim and the main reason I entered local politics. I am immensely proud to live in Birchington and will continue to promote community involvement and support local businesses.

Colin Harvey – Labour

I’ve lived in Thanet most of my life and spent 39 years teaching here in various local secondary schools.  For ten of those years my wife and I combined our teaching careers with running a pub in Margate – an experience that too often made us aware of TDC’s unsympathetic attitude towards businesses.

In fact, in recent years I have often despaired at that council’s failure to get to grips with the myriad of problems that undermine the quality of communal life.  Many services are cut, allowed to deteriorate, or we have to pay for hitherto free facilities.

One example that affects me personally, albeit the responsibility of Tory-run KCC, is the failure to keep our pedestrian pavements in good repair. Dependent on using my mobility scooter every time I leave the house, I’m all too aware of their deterioration in far too many places into a condition that make them actually dangerous for pedestrians and disabled people like myself to negotiate safely.

And why have do we have to endure, at the behest of private companies, the closure of so many of our local roads for extended periods?

The priority of a Labour district council, then, must be to challenge such failures, and itself deliver value for money services that meet the needs and serve the convenience of local citizens.

Paul Holton – Independent

Photo by Alan Green

I am a father, of three sons, one in University, one in the British Army, and one about to start College. I lived in Park Lane Birchington as a child, and live here now at Quex Court, and have worked here at the Shell Garage, formerly Total, and ELF  Site for over 17 years, my late Grandfather was a butcher, my late Father a Military and Security man, and my late mother a worker at former Spurgeon’s home in Birchington. Over the years I have been an Army Cadet, Civillian Instructor, as well as also being an admin officer, adjutant, press and pr, and helper with the band. One of my main passions, is music, through drumming, and being been a professional photographer, music manager, and music consultant.

I love the village life but like most villages, towns, and cities we have to do right by our neighbours, and neighbourhoods. With central government, pushing for housing and the local council burdening the constant pressures, I like many have had enough and want to stand up for the community.

From sorting out how we build to protecting our green spaces to helping the older generation, with modern technology,  keeping cash as an option. Encouraging businesses to thrive, for people to shop local, and take pride in our heritage. We need to support our valued, NHS, GP surgeries, as well as education of our children.

Terry MacDonald – Green

I’ve lived in Thanet for 40 years and have worked in design, technology and engineering both in the UK and abroad. I’ve been a Green Party member for 6 years and Treasurer of the local branch for 5. I’m married with two adult children and want to ensure our natural resources are protected for their generation and beyond.

As a Councillor I will bring my expertise and experience to bear on the issues facing us – problems like making sure all members of the community have access to affordable housing, quality healthcare and opportunities for decent education and employment. I’m committed to working to make our housing and transportation more sustainable, to supporting local businesses and to helping both businesses and individuals reduce our carbon footprint.

In my spare time I enjoy walking my dog exploring the natural beauty of Thanet and spending time with my family and friends. I’m a passionate, dedicated candidate, committed to making a positive impact on my community and building a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Glyn Parry – Thanet Independents

I am currently a Town Councillor for Westgate on Sea and the Chair of its Planning Highway and Environment Committee. My great interest is Architecture, design and the planning of sustainable buildings and communities.

We have lived in Westgate for the last 4 years moving here from rural Leicestershire on retirement from my career in Shopfitting. We have fallen in love with all of wonderful Thanet warts and all. Since moving to the area, I have become involved in many aspects of local life enjoying volunteering work on the gardens and sea front in Westgate, the Town Council, Regional and Local Camra organisation, and Beer Festivals. I also garden an allotment at Epple Bay.

My intention in life is to try and make a difference, however small, to the lives of people I meet.

Anne Reszetniak – Labour

David Ross – Labour

David is retired and has lived in Birchington Westgate for 22 years. He was a petrol tanker driver for most of his career and worked for the NHS for seven years before retiring. He has been married to Julie since 1976 and they have two sons, the oldest has been a serving police officer for 20-plus years. The youngest is in renal failure and hoping for a kidney transplant. He has moved back home with his parents as they provide the care he needs.

David is strongly against the ever-increasing housebuilding in the area as the infrastructure needed to support this amount of growth is clearly not in place.  He also has strong views about the uncontrolled dumping of raw sewage into the sea, ruining our beautiful coastline and the livelihoods of the local tourist businesses.

He feels the area needs more employment opportunities for the younger generation and is appalled at the running down of the NHS, which he believes is in preparation for privatisation.

He is disturbed by the lack of morals in the Conservative party at present, and the cost-of-living increases that their policies have caused.

Linda Wright – Conservative

I have lived in Birchington for 24 years and have served on both parish and district councils for the past 12 years. I am a former healthcare professional working in both the NHS and the private sectors. I am passionate about our village and the wider rural and coastal areas. I support Manston Airport, which I believe will bring job opportunities to local people – not just at the airport site but to the wider economy in Thanet. With the most up-to-date technology in the aviation industry, it will create apprenticeships for young people. Finally, like everyone, I am concerned about the loss of our farmland and the threat to our rural identity.

Thanet Villages

Sam Bambridge – Conservative

I have been a Conservative councillor for eight years and am passionate about Thanet and the potential for our district. I live in the village of Manston and am a long-term supporter of Manston Airport. I believe the revival of the airport will be an engine for economic growth in this area and that it will also provide much-needed jobs and inspiration for our younger generation as well as the wider community. I strongly support the airport’s commitment to be carbon neutral and its objective to be the international leader in net zero airports.

Over the past eight years I have continually opposed unwanted new housing on prime farmland in this area and will continue to do so. My other priorities are to continue to attract inward investment, provide better public transport and to improve road quality and safety.

Abi-Leigh Barlow – Conservative

Our beloved villages are deeply rooted within the farming lifestyle. For hundreds of years, our traditions have been the pillars that kept our communities thriving. As your councillor, I will work tirelessly to guarantee that new houses are not built on our farmland, trampling our identity.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen an increase in mental health issues in our community. Grief, isolation and anxiety riddled our everyday life. Our villages have new needs post-pandemic and, as your councillor, I will ensure that this is not a subject that is swept under the carpet. I am personally very open with my open with my mental health, I have Borderline Personality Disorder, and I will give every hour of the day to support the village through healing the emotional damage caused through lockdown.

Thea Barrett – Green

Abi, Andy and Thea

I’ve lived in Thanet all my life apart from 4 years in Liverpool at University, and I now work for a local hospitality company. In

Growing up in Thanet, I have seen my generation’s hope for a fair, green future move further away.  Returning to my hometown and rejoining Thanet Green Party has reaffirmed my knowledge that the people of Thanet deserve active, energetic representation, as well as someone who will fight for the next generation.

My job role focuses on training, and I feel strongly that young people locally need better opportunities to help them fulfil their potential. I also believe that most employers would benefit from listening more to employees and taking their ideas on board – and that applies just as much to Thanet District Council as to the private sector!

I’m aware that our rural areas sometimes get a raw deal: if I’m elected I’ll advocate strongly for the people of the Thanet Villages and do everything I can to help their voices to be heard.

Andy Isbister – Green

The Thanet Villages are a jewel in the crown of our Isle, yet residents are being let down by overdevelopment. As a Councillor I will listen to residents and make sure companies like Southern Water, developers and builders are held to account for their actions.

Regarding Southern Water, I simply do not believe our water system can cope with the proposed number of new dwellings in Thanet. For all significant new developments, I believe TDC should require detailed information on the likely impact on water provision to households and sewage outflows on our beaches. And the Government’s plans to fine water companies for sewage spills are welcome, but may simply result in higher water bills, rather than water company CEOs forfeiting their substantial bonuses!

We need a complete rethink about housing numbers and where we create the homes we need, prioritising brownfield sites and preserving farmland. Where developments are approved, close & regular communication with residents should be a strict requirement.

I’m also very concerned about speed – watching village roads become narrow racetracks sends shivers down my spine, particularly as a slow-walking disabled person myself. So I agree with my fellow Greens that 20mph speed limits should operate in all residential areas.

Abi Smith – Green

I was elected in November 2021 to represent the Thanet Villages on TDC, following on from popular Green Party Councillor Trevor Roper, and was proud to receive 60% of the vote.

Since then I’ve been very busy attending TDC and parish council meetings, supporting residents and working on local issues. A key concern for residents is the massive new housing developments on greenfield sites that are destroying our prime agricultural land, changing the character of our villages, putting further pressure on our water & sewage systems and massively increasing traffic on small rural roads. We know we need housing, but sadly these developments rarely meet local needs.

My motion asking TDC to obtain more detailed information from Southern Water routinely on the impact of these developments wasn’t approved for debate, but I am still pursuing this as these issues affect us all.

As someone who ironically had to buy a car in order to serve as a Green Party Councillor, if I’m re-elected I’ll also carry on campaigning for better public transport in the Thanet Villages and other rural areas of Thanet, and for TDC to link more effectively with Parish Councils for the benefit of all.

Sue Gyde – Labour

Jane Hetherington – Labour

I am a psychotherapist and have worked locally since moving from London 23 years ago.
I moved to Thanet in 2000 to manage a third-sector service and have since managed services within the NHS and the non-statutory sector locally. I have also been involved in a number of local charities.

As a councillor, resident and swimmer, I have campaigned with the local SOS group in an attempt to improve the quality of our water and prevent our local beaches being polluted.

I have also been involved in the No Night Flights campaign in an attempt to prevent the environmental and social damage that this proposal would cause locally, with the implications for our green belt.

My overwhelming concern is for the area’s physical and mental health and the impact Thanet’s deprivation has on our health statistics.

Residents write to me about their inability to obtain medical appointments and their difficulty in obtaining a mental health referral or treatment. Young people’s services are in complete crisis and the system is, worryingly, worsening.

Deborah Holmes – Lib Dem

Andy Local – Independent

Maggie Nash – Labour

Karina Pugh – Conservative


Jane Ashbee-Welch – Conservative

Born in 1966 and brought up in South London and after discovering 20 years ago what a wonderful place Westgate is, I decided to move and live here permanently. Since then, I have opened and run restaurants in Minnis Bay and for seven years up to 2020 ran Frederick’s Tea Room in Westgate. As a member of the Westgate & Westbrook Residents Association, I served on the committee and as treasurer also helping with the production and delivery of the quarterly magazine.

I am a keen golfer previously playing at Westgate & Birchington where, for a time I was the ladies secretary. Campaigning a few years back with residents and businesses against the threat of parking charges and the loss of our post office in Westgate showed me that there is a lot of passion in Westgate and now if elected, I would be a strong voice for the community at the District Council. Protecting all that makes Westgate the beautiful place to live is my priority and I will listen to the concerns and issues of residents and businesses and assist in finding the best solutions.

Bertie Braidwood – Thanet Independents

From apprentice to contracts manager, I’ve spent 18 years in the Mechanical and Electrical sector to date. Having grown up in Westgate attending St. Crispins, St. Saviours and Ursuline College, I know what a unique place Westgate is.

I’m hungry and passionate to make our beautiful town a place we can be proud to live in. I’ve spent the last 8 years achieving some real positive changes in both the North and South of Westgate as well as meeting some fantastic residents at my monthly surgeries held at Westgate library. I’ve listened to residents concerns and voted accordingly at full council. Like you, I believe in Westgate and more importantly I believe in Thanet. Help me continue to be your voice by voting for me.

David Donaldson – Labour

David loves Westgate on Sea, and his family have lived here for more than 30 years. He has been a very active councillor on Westgate town council since his election in 2019, sitting on all the major committees and he has contributed to all the projects. They include the acquisition of Lymington Road Recreation Ground, the Westgate Business Forum, Our Kitchen in Westgate and St Saviours Community Hub.

He now wants to take his hard work for the ward a stage further by representing all its residents on the district council. As a father and grandfather, he is passionate about young people and their future.

Peter Evans – Thanet Independents

I have lived in Thanet now for 36 years so am well aware of the problems now facing the area. Living in the area I have taken a great interest in the over development of housing in Thanet and was in opposition to building on the fields when I was Chairman of Planning.

I am experienced having held office before and can tell you I will personally take on the complaints you have concerning your Local Area. I am a Clinical Lead working in the NHS so I know the problems you are all facing in relation to Health Issues.

I believe TDC should be held to account for the present neglect of its properties and wastage of Council Tax payer’s money in other areas.

Sarah Jarman – Green

I was born in Westgate and have lived here for nearly all of my life. My three children, now adults, were all brought up playing on Westgate beach, as I was.

I am really passionate about working hard for Westgate and the surrounding area to make it an even better place. We deserve our sea and beaches to be clean and accessible at all times. We need enough affordable, decent, sustainably built housing to be available for individuals and families in Thanet – but we also need properly designed and planned infrastructure to support that.

On my frequent long walks around Thanet, I have often talked to residents about their similar wishes for the area and I would love to be able to represent them and be their voice.

Thomas King – Independent

I am currently campaigning for extra play space for young children on the north (coastal ) side of Westgate, also asset transfers of both the Westgate community centre and Westgate library to our Town council . I am an experienced former TDC councillor of eight years  for Westgate and 17 years chairman of our local residents association – WWRA.

Working for local residents not local politics

Nikki Morgan – Labour

Nikki has lived in Thanet all her life. She works locally as a community nurse supporting individuals experiencing mental health difficulties.

She is passionate about workers rights and has been actively involved in promoting nurses’ rights locally. Nikki has an additional interest in renters’ rights as her job has allowed her to witness the necessity for safe and well-maintained housing for an individual’s overall health and well-being.
Growing up in Dane Valley, Nikki has a lived understanding and insight into the issues and opportunities within the community. She is a familiar face in the area and passionate in supporting the residents most in need.

Matthew Scott – Conservative

It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the residents of Westgate since 2019, putting the needs of the local community first. As your councillor, I worked alongside the Town Council to make our roads safer with traffic calming measures and help with regular litter picks. I fought against parking charges that would have damaged our high streets, supported the campaign to protect our prime agricultural land against housing development, and engaged with residents and businesses over the safety of our town.

I want to continue to be an active voice for our great community, ensuring our area remains safe, enjoyable, and equally accessible for everyone. I will continue to support local businesses, ensure that future development meets local needs, and assist with any future projects and events that will promote our beautiful coastal town.

Roger Smythe – Conservative

I have been in Thanet since 1979 and my wife and I have run businesses in Margate, Ramsgate, and Broadstairs. I understand the challenges and economic problems in the area, and I am standing because I believe I can make an impact in the community. I enjoy talking to people and solving problems and believe fresh blood and enthusiasm could benefit our area. My business experience has given me an insight into the problems faced by local people. I am interested in Manston Airport; a valuable asset that should be nurtured, and am involved in the local amateur dramatic society, performing and directing. This experience will stand me in good stead with public speaking and representing the ward.

Paul Upex – Labour

Originally from Newcastle, I’ve been fortunate to call Westbrook home for the past five years. This area is great, but it could be better. We need local councillors who listen to local residents, who knock on your door not just at election time, who are visible day in, day out.

For the past 20 years I’ve worked in parliament, politics and local government. I have a proud track record of campaigning and getting things done. I’m a keen gardener, DIY enthusiast and animal lover. You will regularly find me walking the dog on our beautiful beaches.

As your councillor I would be a strong voice for Westgate, supporting local businesses and resident.  For too long the Tories have taken Westgate residents and your vote for granted. They continue to look the other way both locally and nationally while they allow our fantastic beaches to be polluted. They do nothing as local residents struggle to see a doctor or dentist.

We need Labour councillors who understand the tough times that many local residents are facing.  Decisions made nationally, supported by local Conservatives, have had a huge impact – they broke the economy and working people are paying the price. Food bills and housing costs are rising and wages are not keeping up. Too many of us are waiting months and even years for health treatment, held back from working and living our lives to the full.

It’s time for a change. We need to build a better Thanet. Vote Labour 4 May.


Help us to continue bringing you Thanet news with a donation towards our running costs


  1. Interesting the number of candidates across all wards who say they are passionate about Manston Airport and passionate about stopping housing development on farmland. Shows a lack of understanding of cause and effect?

    • What struck me was the underwhelming number of candidates who gave any sort of mention to Manston.
      Most of those who did made the usual babblespeak comments about “net zero airport” and thousands of jobs.

  2. I doubt these people will actually knock on any doors to explain so this is about as much as we can expect.

  3. Emma Dawson was previously a Labour Party member before moving to Ukip. She stood as a Ukip candidate in Cliftonville West. She now campaigns as a Conservative candidate in Birchington. What next, the Lib Dems?

    I question if a candidate with a history of so many
    conflicting political views can be relied on.

  4. Emma Dawson’s bio is misleading. She previously lived in Birchington with her Ukip councillor husband, but is now a Broadstairs resident.

    As mentioned she was initially a Labour Party member, then stood for Ukip. She has now morphed into a Conservative!

    So no consistency & a misleading bio! So much for transparency!

  5. Emma Dawson’s bio is somewhat misleading, she was previously a resident of Birchington, but is now a Broadstairs resident. Transparency is important in those who seek to represent us!

  6. What puzzles me is that after more than a decade of Tory misrule nationally and locally the Tory Party is still finding candidates to stand for them! Hopefully, they will not find voters to elect these candidates to give us more of the same!

  7. Tory Sam Bambridge (Thanet Villages) is attempting to jump on the Manston Airport bandwagon by stating that she supports the ‘revival’ of the airport.

    This is misleading and irrelevant, for even if elected she will have no influence over the fate of Manston Airport which is to be decided at a national level, not by TDC councillors.

    Thanet Villages and Birchington North and South all need a change after years of stagnation under complacent Tories. There are alternatives, such as the Green Party candidates who deserve a chance to deliver for Birchington and the Thanet Villages.

  8. Labour is the first chance to get rid of the Tory crime gang whose top now infects the whole party.
    We’ll get the greens in later, but just kick the far right into the trash where they belong. My dad never fought for what’s going on now.

Comments are closed.