I have been selected to fight the Surrey County Council by-election in the Farnham South division on 18th August – the seat previously occupied by new Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, David Munro.
I was out knocking doors during the past couple of weeks speaking to local residents and getting nomination signatures and several people were surprised to learn that I wasn’t from the area, which clearly shows that there is a big difference between the public perception of UKIP’s size of membership and reality.
In truth we punch way above our weight in political terms, thanks largely to the fantastic activists and supporters that we have. To put this into some perspective, the Surrey Heath Labour Party have just announced more than 130 new members joining in the past 4 weeks – that’s more than Surrey Heath UKIP has in total membership.
Of course, the calculated and deliberate decision to delay calling the by-election until the start of the school holidays has limited the number of people willing and able to apply for the post and will undoubtedly impact our ability to get leaflets out to voters – but that was the Tory plan all along.
Why couldn’t the Tories call the election in May as soon as Munro was elected as PCC so that the by-election took place at the same time as the EU referendum? It would have saved Council time and caused least disruption to schools and other places that are used as polling stations. But of course that’s not important to the Tories – getting re-elected is the only thing that matters and by delaying until now gives them the best chance.
So is it a problem that I’m not from the Farnham area? I don’t think so.
As Chairman of UKIP Surrey I’m well aware of the issues that people across the County are facing and in the areas of policy that the County Council controls (like education, highways, social care), the problems that people are experiencing are broadly reflected throughout the County. So complaints such as the appalling quality of our roads and the shoddy repairs that have been carried out to potholes are common to both Surrey Heath and South West Surrey. Concerns over school places in the coming years is also one that is reflected right across the County.
Of course there are some specific issues that I need to understand, and I’m starting to get briefed on these. Issues such as the cost and financing of the development of Farnham Town Centre are high on residents’ list of concerns and I’m sure, if elected, these will take a up a good deal of my time and attention.