Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
LibDems campaigning against a hard Brexit, with Eve Montgomery, fourth from right, next to Nick Perry.

LibDems campaigning against a hard Brexit, with Nick Perry and Eve Montgomery third and fourth from right.

LibDems tell it like it is!

The Liberal Democrats have already made a mark on this year’s local elections by choosing not to stand candidates in Old Hastings in order to improve the chances of the Green Party succeeding on the basis of opposition to the proposed harbour marina development which the two parties share. Now their best-known face in town, Nick Perry, along with his fellow candidate Eve Montgomery, tell HOT’s Nick Terdre how they see this moment in local politics and the changes they would like to see in local government.

“I think we are entering a very interesting phase in the municipal politics of Hastings and St Leonards, “ says Nick Perry, who is standing in Castle ward.

“Never in the history of the parliamentary consituency have we had a more binary choice between the Conservatives and the Labour Party. But just at this very point, it seems that the people of the towns would like to see a more diverse Borough Council.

“At a national level the Tories are making the most heinous dog’s breakfast of an increasingly damaging Brexit process. At a local level, the laid-back manner (some might call it complacency) of the Leader of the Labour Council belies some terrible mistakes – particularly on planning, social housing and the Council’s budget process.”

Concerns with local democracy

Local democracy and the way the council works with other bodies and the community are important concerns for the LibDems. “Liberal Democrats believe in the empowerment of neighbourhoods to make decisions for themselves – particularly our most deprived neighbourhoods,” says Mr Perry.

“Whilst not particularly tribal, we are not at all attracted by the operational culture of an ‘Entrepreneurial Socialist’ Council which appears to prefer a command and control model rather than the kind of leadership that seeks to work in partnership with others, facilitating different authorities and agencies to join up services, and to work smarter in our Borough.”

The absence of any LibDem councillors has left opposition in the hands of the Tories, who have not, in Mr Perry’s view, done a very good job. “The Labour Council needs effective scrutiny, and it hasn’t had it from the Conservatives, who (particularly on planning) appear just as ready as Labour to roll over for big developer-led projects.  I think other, more independent voices on our Council can only be healthy for our civic life.”

“It is likely we will have a new Labour council on 4 May, Mr Perry says, so we Liberal Democrats want to be in a position to hold it more effectively to account. The Tories have failed on that score.”

Eve Montgomery, candidate for West St Leonards.

Eve Montgomery, candidate for West St Leonards.

Second-class citizens

Eve Montgomery, one of the LibDem candidates for West St Leonards, is similarly critical of the way her community has been treated by the outgoing council. “I love living in West St Leonards and there is a fantastic community here, but the people have been treated as second-class citizens by Hastings Council for years,”. she says.

“Opinions are ignored and the ward neglected – except for outlandish vanity development projects on totally unsuitable sites. I feel passionately that this area deserves so much better and I will fight hard for real engagement from the council and an end to secrecy and decisions behind closed doors. I will continue to campaign to keep our green spaces safe from inappropriate development, to keep our streets clean, to reduce traffic and keep monitoring air quality.”

With the exception of Old Hastings, the LibDems have two candidates standing in each of the other 15 wards, as follows:

Ashdown Lindsey Fellows, Robert Wakeford Baird John Faulkner, Susan McDougall Braybrooke Jason Brooker, Michael Davies Castle Nick Perry, Stewart Gregory Rayment Central St Leonards Stephen Milton, Tony Seymour Conquest Ian Bunch, Margaret Burns Gensing Lee Grant, Sue Tait Hollington Anne Gallop, Mike Lushington Maze Hill Paul Hunt, Chris Lewcock Ore Katy Hunter-Burbridge, Kate Tudgay St Helens Emlyn Jones, Bob Lloyd Silverhill Jon Smalldon, Susan Stoodley Tressell Phil Broad, Oliver Maloney West St Leonards Peter Clarke, Eve Montgomery Wishing Tree Nina Blanch, Tricia Kennelly.

Posted 20:30 Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018 In: Local Elections 2018

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