5 July 2021: Updated in Comments below the post.
Residents of Feniton Ward in Gittisham, Buckerell and Feniton will go to the polls on 8 July to elect their new District Councillor. Names of those standing for election have been made public and it’s a straight race between the main political parties: Labour, Conservatives and LibDems. Sadly no true Independent candidates, despite my best efforts!
These are my first impressions of the three candidates, listed in alphabetical order for fear of favour. All the information below has been found through a Google search, Twitter and Facebook. I will update this post as and when more information is made available up to polling day.
There are some very serious questions to be asked of all three candidates and I’m sure as the candidates knock on the doors of the ward, the residents will be prepared to ask the difficult questions and the candidates will be prepared to answer them.
Linda Baden, Labour. A Google search of this Feniton resident resulted in absolutely nothing, bar a directorship in L A Baden Ltd, which provides educational support services. No-one I’ve spoken to thus far has received a leaflet, so no enlightenment there. To the best of my knowledge, the Labour candidate has never stood for election to any of the ward’s three parish councils, nor attended any of the Parish Council meetings. I hope she is not a ‘paper candidate’, as Feniton Ward deserves so much more! https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/person/83790/linda-baden
Alasdair Bruce, Conservative. First out of the blocks on the day candidates were announced, the Conservative candidate has been seen in the ward and has distributed his leaflet widely. He is the only candidate (to my knowledge) with experience as a District Councillor having held a Cabinet role at Thanet District Council between 2007 and 2015 (https://democracy.thanet.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=108). He is also chairman of the East Devon Beekeepers Association and writes for the Exmouth Journal (https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/alasdair-bruce-on-beekeeping-hobby-6917500).
Todd Olive, LibDem. A Google search of the LibDem candidate resulted in far more information. He came second in the Whimple & Rockbeare byelection in May this year (https://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/3722629/eddc-whimple-and-rockbeare.pdf). He is Company Secretary for Osprey Developments Ltd (https://ospreydevelopments.co.uk/about/, scroll down for relevant information). Osprey Developments appears to be a very active local development firm with rebuilding of the former care home, Applemead, in the centre of Whimple (the former Whiteways HQ) as a recent project. He is also director of Build Consultants Ltd (https://buildconsultants.co.uk/about/, scroll down for relevant information where Todd is described as one of the company’s two project managers).
The threat of mass development has been a curse on Feniton ward, and those with long memories will recall how my predecessor, Graham Brown, compromised the role of District Councillor with being tied to developers. It is surely important to keep the two roles at arms’ length to avoid any possibility of a conflict of interest?
But there’s more. Todd Olive has just finished his degree at Warwick University, but on 26 April 2021, he tweeted (@onlytheolive) that he has taken up the offer of studying for a Masters starting in Warwick in September. This is a one-year, full-time ‘taught postgraduate’ course which will require him to be in Warwick for most of the academic year. Serious questions need to be raised with him on the doorstep to make sure that, should he be elected, he can fulfil the role appropriately.