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Sandgate Parish Council Elections 2019: Joint Statement by Robert Bliss and Tim Prater

February 20, 2019 5:11 PM
By Robert Bliss and Tim Prater
Originally published by Tim Prater | Councillor for Sandgate & West Folkestone, Sandgate Village, Harvey West & Hythe East

Tim PraterWe were both elected to Sandgate Parish Council in 2011, and have served as Councillors, and nominally "leaders" of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups on Sandgate Parish Council ever since.

We are are both members and activists in our respective Parties, both been so for decades, and plan to remain so. We both see a strong role for Parties, especially our own Parties, in politics at District, County, National and European level, and have both served as Councillors at both District and County levels.

However, in almost eight years on Sandgate Parish Council, we both struggle to remember a single instance where Party politics entered a discussion. There have been debates, consensus, disagreement and even occasional arguments over that time - rightly. But they are always on the basis of individual opinion and viewpoints, not Party affiliation.

Over the years, many people have told us that they don't see a place for Party politics on Sandgate Parish Council. We've been able to reassure people - honestly - that they haven't played a part in the decisions made, but the fact remains that currently 10 out of 11 Councillors on Sandgate Parish Council stood at the last election under a Party banner.

We've made a decision, together, that we hope that local people will welcome.

Both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats groups have agreed that they will no longer be standing to Sandgate Parish Council under Party banners. We both personally intend to restand in May 2019, as do a number of other existing Councillors. We intend to do so independently and without Party banner.

We cannot influence those in other Parties to follow this lead - that is for them. However we can hope that others standing to the Parish in May will do the same, and stand in their own right, independently, and help us "de-Party" the Parish Council. To stand as a Councillor you can be a member of any Party, or none. That's always been the case. We just hope to make it clearer.

We firmly believe that all Councillors who have been Councillors on Sandgate Parish have done so through a desire to serve their community, neighbours and the village as a whole, not their Party. We think that, on the whole, we've done a good job. We hope that residents welcome this move, and reject Party Politics on the Parish Council, but that's for them to decide in the election in May.

Robert Bliss, Chairman, Sandgate Parish Council

Tim Prater, Vice-Chairman, Sandgate Parish Council