Published: 00:00, 21 November 2014
| Updated: 15:25, 21 November 2014
Faversham Town Council could be about to undergo a major political shake-up.
There are 37 parish and town councils in Swale but Faversham is the only one without independent representation…but that could all change.
Borough councillor Mike Henderson (Lib Dem) who represents the Davington Priory ward, believes that now, in a time of great “mistrust” and “disappointment” with both national and local politics, is the right moment to increase the number of independent councillors on the town council and do away with party politics.
He is urging Faversham people, whose only loyalty is to the town, to come forward and stand as a candidate in next May’s election.
Cllr Henderson, who was a Faversham town councillor for 16 years and has been a borough councillor on and off for 17 years, has already found a contender in the shape of well-known businessman Ben Martin.
Ben, 37, is Faversham born and bred and owns Abode Renovation which preserves and restores old buildings, as well as running his own training programme to help others develop their building skills.
He is a father to two young daughters and spoke exclusively to the Faversham News about his “passion” for Faversham and his aspiration to “help the town retain its individuality”.
He said: “Faversham does need to develop to secure its future, but it does not want to be told by central government what it has to do.
“I would like to help local groups, organisations and individuals work together for a locally determined future.
“I think that means getting party politics out of local decision-making, because it just blurs the picture and we end up by having to do what Kent County Council and Westminster tells us.
“I want to see independent voices for Faversham.”
Cllr Henderson is keen that Ben is one of many voices that will come out of the woodwork in the next few months and wants both men and women, young and old, to come forward.
He said: “There are two or three big issues which stand out with politics at the moment and the first and perhaps the most obvious is that it is known both nationally and in Faversham that people are fed up with and do not trust party politicians.
“In Faversham, we have had the Creek neighbourhood plan which has caused a great deal of upset in the town.
“When it comes to consultations, most people in the town ask themselves what is the point of responding when nobody takes any notice of their view? People in Faversham don’t feel listened to.
“I can go along to a cabinet meeting and stand up and have my say, but the reality is that they have already made their minds up by then, as decision making is taken in private meetings.”
Cllr Henderson has written to all 14 town councillors asking them to stand as independents in the next election but he is unsure whether he will get their support.
As it currently stands, there are 13 Conservatives and one Labour councillor.
To show the strength behind his proposal, Cllr Henderson will reject any party political label and stand as an independent for Swale Borough Council.
He added: “Faversham is a strong community and has a strong feeling of independence anyway.
“I am certain that we will find people who will, quite frankly, make better councillors than the current ones, and who wouldn’t dream of doing it on a party political basis.”
He is asking anyone interested to get in touch via email: email@example.com or ring 01795 534368