|Ray Turner - candidate on 1st March|
Ray Turner is standing as an Independent and has provided the following answers to Hedge End Blogger's questions:
1. What do you think of the way that Hedge End has changed and developed in recent years?
I saw Grange Park being built and thought at the time that it was completely out of character with the centre of Hedge End and that parts of it were too densely packed. Subsequent developments have been even more more dense and more out of character. The problem is that when people are living too closely together, social problems can arise. Our planners don't seem to take that into consideration. Developers are too concerned with profit and don't think sufficiently about social issues. We're not building Tower blocks any more, thank goodness, but we are introducing a similar problem by building too densely.
2. How would you like to see it change and develop in the future?
I would like to see Hedge End stabilise and mature into a well-managed Town with a clear identity and a strong community that everybody, from all corners of Hedge End, is willing to participate in. Stability isn't likely to happen in the near future, because there is still pressure to build more houses and roads, but we can make a start on developing our identity and strengthening the community. Encouraging more residents to attend Town Council meetings and/or be prepared to stand for election to the Town Council would be a good first step.
3. What qualities and experience will you bring to the Town Council?
I have worked in the Civil Service previously, for over 20 years, and thus have plenty of experience of working in teams, participating in meetings and chairing them. I left the Civil Service after a period of stress-related depression, caused (frankly) by some very bad management. I understand those problems only too well and I am acutely aware of how issues that seem trivial to some can trigger serious problems for other people. I also think that is a very good experience to have had. It will be very relevant, for instance, when dealing with antisocial behaviour issues in Hedge End.
I have previously been unemployed for a period of nearly two years, not qualifying for any benefits and having to live off my savings, so I know how difficult life can be if you find yourself in that situation. Once again, it was hard at the time but good experience to have had. Now semi-retired (in theory) I work as a parts-delivery driver, working 47 hours a week on the minimum wage and I still don't qualify for any benefits or tax credits. I therefore know exactly what it is like to be in a low paid job, working hard but not getting the rewards, exploited, struggling to stretch the inadequate money to the end of the month, only to find that the Council Tax bill is going up again next year...
4. What would your priorities be for Hedge End and Shamblehurst ward in particular?
As an independent candidate, I am looking to be returned to the opposition on Hedge End Town Council. It would thus be completely unrealistic for me to promise to change anything, as I will not be in a position to do so. For instance, I would like to be able to promise to move the Recycling Centre, but I'm not going to be in a position to deliver that. After this election, the Lib Dems will still have a very large majority on the Town Council and what happens in Hedge End will be down to the way that they vote, or are persuaded to vote, in Council meetings.
What I can promise to do though, and it is my absolute top priority, is to interact with the people of Hedge End and espescially the residents of Shamblehurst ward, to learn about the issues that you are concerned about, make sure they are raised in Town Council Meetings and do my best to obtain a satisfactory solution by arguing the case and working constructively, in a non-partisan way, with the people who hold the real power on the Town Council.
5. Is there anything else you would like to say to your potential voters?
I have never been a member of a political party. Being independent allows me to support what I think is appropriate, whatever the source of the idea. My observation is that none of the parties have the monopoly on being right, despite their grand claims and partisan attitudes. There are ideas from each of the main parties that I can agree with. I do not support any specific ideology and I certainly do not want to be in a position where I am required to promote policies that I don't believe in, or be expected to defend the indefensible. Being independent is a much better place to be.
Raymond has also sent a copy of his election leaflet which you can read here.