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Housing campaigner Claudine Russell to stand for Conservatives on Maidstone council

The leader of the Marden Planning Opposition Group, which successfully convinced Maidstone council to drop plans for a 2,000 garden village in Marden, has decided to go into politics.

Claudine Russell is to stand for the Conservatives at the borough council elections on May 6 contesting Marden and Yalding ward.

Claudine Russell is standing in the May elections in the Marden and Yalding ward
Claudine Russell is standing in the May elections in the Marden and Yalding ward

She said: "I had to go through an interview process which was quite daunting - I hadn't interviewed for a long while. But now I'm really looking forward to it."

Mrs Russell has been a Marden resident for 18 years. She said: "I now need to get a handle of other issues - in Yalding and across the borough, so that I can take a balanced view for all the residents."

There's a lot to take in. If elected her ward will include the communities at Chainhurst, Benover, Collier Street, Nettlestead and Laddingford.

Mrs Russell is stepping aside from the chairmanship of the Marden Planning Opposition Group, but not too far.

She will be replaced as chairman by husband Tristan, who is currently vice-chairman.

Claudine Russell and husband Tristan pictured after hearing the news that the idea of a garden village for Marden had been dropped
Claudine Russell and husband Tristan pictured after hearing the news that the idea of a garden village for Marden had been dropped

She said: "There's still work for the group to do, monitoring the borough's Local Plan as it passes through the final stages and making sure there are no unexpected surprises."

Mrs Russell was born in Bristol. She has a degree in Earth Sciences and is a former quarry manager.

The council seat is currently vacant after the resignation for personal reasons by former councillor Steve McLoughlin last year.

Mr McLoughlin was elected in 2016 with 938 votes; his closest rival was Pamela Watts from Ukip on 430 votes.

Both the other two sitting ward councillors - David Burton and Annabelle Blackmore - are Conservatives.

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