Council critic becomes Tory candidate

From the Guildford Dragon:

Council Critic Becomes Tory Candidate in Lovelace By-election

Ben Paton the Conservative candidate in the Lovelace ward by-election.

A Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) supporter and one of the most vociferous critics of the Conservative led Guildford Borough Council (GBC) had his nominated confirmed last night (August 28) as the Conservative candidate in the Lovelace by-election.

Ben Paton, a regular correspondent of The Guildford Dragon News, is an Ockham resident and a vociferous opponent of the Draft Local Plan, in particular the proposal for a new settlement on the old Wisley airfield.

Those present at the selection meeting, held last week, describe it as a tense affair. Council leader Stephen Mansbridge (Con, Ash South & Tongham) is understood to have been present, accompanied by Executive member, Cllr Richard Billington (Con, Tillingbourne).

Cllr. Mansbridge’s presence at the selection meeting was challenged but it was eventually accepted that he was exercising his right to attend as leader of the Conservative Group at Millmead to which the Conservative candidate will, if elected, belong. It is reported that Cllr Mansbridge opposed the selection of Mr Paton but was outvoted.

As the Lovelace Ward, which includes Ripley, Wisley and Ockham, falls within the Mole Valley parliamentary constituency it is their Conservative Association, thought to be less influenced by the GBC Tory group, that is responsible for candidate selection rather than the Guildford Conservative Association.

Map showing the three parishes of Wisley, Ockham and Ripley, in the north east of Guildford Borough, that make up Lovelace Ward.

Bill Barker, a Conservative Surrey County Council councillor for the Horsleys said this morning: “I am delighted with the nomination. He will be a very good representative for this ward.”

Susan Parker, speaking on behalf of the Guildford Greenbelt Group said in reaction to the news of Mr Paton’s nomination:  “The most important issue confronting voters in Lovelace Ward is the Local Plan‘s proposed development in the area, particularly the proposed new town at the former Wisley Airfield.  This should determine the result of this election in this ward.

“GGG is forming “The GreenBelt Party” which has applied for status as a political party from the Electoral Commission. It is not yet authorised so cannot yet formally propose candidates; candidates will stand for election next May.

“Ben Paton, the Conservative candidate, and Colin Cross, standing as a Liberal Democrat, are both founder GGG members who have been very active in GGG since it formed. They have spoken and written for GGG and obtained signatures for petitions and the current referendum petition.

“As a result, GGG is supportive of both its members. GGG recommends that supporters who are voters in Lovelace should vote for one of those two candidates.”

So far, candidates representing Labour and Ukip, in addition to the Liberal Democrat and Conservative party have been announced. Nominations close today (August 29). The by-election will be held on Thursday, September 25th.

Further reaction to this news will be sought. Please check back.

The Guildford Dragon News is inviting all candidates to be interviewed. The first interview with Colin Cross, the Lib Dem candidate, has already been published. It is hoped to publish an interview with Ben Paton will be published soon.

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