Published: 09:00, 19 January 2017
| Updated: 09:00, 19 January 2017
A new town councillor will be appointed after the long-awaited by-election.
Seven candidates are all hoping to win your vote and become a representative for Abbey ward, replacing John Ogden-Starkel who resigned last year.
The polling station is open today (Thursday, January 19) from 7am to 10pm at St Mary’s School in Orchard Place.
Conservative Andy Culham, who lost his seat in the 2015 election after a four-year term, is hoping for another chance to represent the town.
He runs Faversham Plastering Company and lives in Belvedere Road.
Mr Culham said: “As a previous town councillor, I know how important it is to represent the residents of Faversham and how much of an honour it is to be a local councillor.
“If I’m successfully elected, I would like to work towards improving youth services and roll my sleeves up and get stuck into helping residents.”
His previous campaigns as a town councillor included improving the skate park at the Rec, clearing up garages on the North Preston estate and switching streetlights back on.
Labour’s Trevor Payne, who lost his place in 2015 after four years representing Abbey ward, will try to reclaim his spot.
Mr Payne, of Priory Row, says he wants to pick up where he left off, “doing his best to represent the people of Abbey ward” and said he was very disappointed to lose his seat.
He will be focusing on road safety, sustainable development, supporting his constituents when they’re in need, the NHS and improvements to facilities such as the Rec.
He said this week: “I campaigned for better pedestrian crossings and safer roads across the town and I will continue to do so.
“I also want to make sure that Faversham does not suffer as a result of development south of the A2.”
If elected, he hopes to continue his work as chairman of the Faversham Footpaths Group and chairman of the trustees of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Swale – both non-party political and non council-led groups.
Antony Hook, who recently said the town council is “complacent, lacking vision and needs to be challenged” is representing the Liberal Democrats.
The 36-year-old barrister of Hazebrouck Road will become the youngest councillor if elected.
Mr Hook says that the council’s attitude to house building is ‘completely wrong’, we need more police and PCSOs on the streets and community centres for young people.
He is also wants to focus on local health services.
He said: “I consider it a real privilege to be entrusted with prosecuting a case, making sure victims get justice or representing an accused person so they receive a fair trial.
“As a self employed person I understand the pressure on small businesses, who really deserve our support locally.
“The type of work I do also means I see public services and how much people depend on them.”
Mr Hook claims it will be a “two horse race” between him and the Conservative candidate Andy Culham.
Green party candidate Peter Hutchinson is already setting out his plans if he was elected as a town councillor.
He says that the town needs a more comprehensive Neighbourhood Plan and will use his wealth of knowledge as a chartered architect to push this forward.
Mr Hutchinson has lived in Faversham for more than 20 years.
The Green Party believes that concern for the environment and the need to respond to climate change should inform everything we do, and Mr Hutchinson says that local decision making is as important as ever.
He said: “We need to ensure that all new developments make a positive contribution to the town and maintain its qualities; they should contain as many new places to work as to live thus maintaining Faversham as a working rather than dormitory town and lessening the extra burden on the rail services and roads serving it.
“Traffic levels need to be controlled, for example by imposing restrictions on parking attached to new housing and by making better provision for cyclists. We strongly support the proposal for a 20 mph speed limit.”
James Copland, who is standing as an independent candidate, is already speaking to people in the constituency to find out what they want.
Mr Copland, of Newton Road, has lived in the town for the last 14 years and is a teacher at King’s College in Canterbury.
He says that Faversham has the ‘potential to be an even better place to live, work, raise a family or retire to’.
He said: “I decided to stand as an Independent because I believe that local politics should be about the views and needs of the people who live here, they should set the agenda, rather than being used for party political point scoring. We in Faversham are the only place I know that has its Town Council divided along national political party lines.
“On the doorstep many of my neighbours tell me they are alarmed at speeding in the area, and that a tragedy can’t be far away, traffic and parking are top concerns.”
He has also heard concerns about the lack of infrastructure supporting the many new housing developments on the way.
He says it is time for residents to stand up and be counted and wants to be the voice for Abbey ward.
Former mayor of Faversham Trevor Fentiman fancies another go at local politics – but representing a different party.
Mr Fentiman spent 10 years on the council as a Conservative but is now standing as a Ukip candidate.
“My biggest concern is the amount of housing being approved and built and the lack of jobs available for residents.
Mr Fentiman says he wants more infrastructure in place before more housing is built, suggesting we may need another school and better health facilities.
He says that, while he was a councillor, he helped hundreds of residents and contributed to improvements in the town, and wants to carry on his work.
Mr Fentiman added: “I have the experience, I have lived in Faversham my whole life, worked in the town for most of my life and I know what Faversham people want.”