Local elections 2021: Chesham candidates share plans for town

Image source, Geograph/Peter S
Image caption,
People living in the Buckinghamshire town of Chesham can vote in the unitary authority and town council elections on 6 May

The local elections on 6 May offer voters across England the chance to have their say. But for people living in Buckinghamshire, polling day will be their first opportunity to vote since the county's unitary authority was launched in April 2020.

The new authority replaced Buckinghamshire County Council, Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Councils.

The BBC has spoken to one candidate from each of the Conservatives, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrats who are standing in the unitary election in Chesham about their plans for the town are if they are elected.

Alan Booth, Green

Image source, Alan Booth

Alan Booth hopes to "free the town of potholes".

"They're just out of control and lead to quite a lot of issues regarding road space for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians," he said.

The 52-year-old said he would take funding being targeted at building new roads to "maintain the ones we already have".

"The other thing affecting us locally is HS2," he said.

"It is a significant thing, it is just over the hill and the Green Party has always been opposed to it and it will continue to be a major component of what we do."

The Chiltern Green Party coordinator said he would also work to protect the greenfield land in the area from development.

Mr Booth said the underpass on St Mary's Way in the centre of Chesham needed to be "fixed once and for all".

"There's been issues with flooding which has led to questions about whether it's safe, and it keeps being closed and then reopened," he said.

Qaser Chaudhry, Conservatives

Image source, Qaser Chaudhry

For Qaser Chaudhry, the "number one priority is highway issues".

The Conservative candidate said if elected he would lobby for additional funding to improve local roads and the drainage systems.

"We also need to do more to fix potholes," he said.

Another key area for the former mayor of Chesham was "protecting the green belt".

"There is lots of development going on and it is a challenge," he said.

While Mr Chaudhry said the area had "quite good schools", supporting local primary and secondary schools to "improve education" was also something he considered a priority.

He said he would also lobby for additional funding to support local business.

"I want to improve communication with local residents, improve the high street and local businesses and support community projects," he said.

Pat Easton, Labour

Image source, Pat Easton

Pat Easton said she believed "coming out of Covid, we need to change the way we do things".

The 62-year-old said she would like to set a local target to reach carbon net zero by 2030.

"We need to reduce the number of local car journeys and make it easy for people to do that," she said.

Ms Easton said she would create a network of safe cycle routes, improve safety for pedestrians and invest in an "integrated green bus service".

Housing is another priority for the Labour candidate.

"We stand for development of affordable and social housing on brownfield sites," she said.

Ms Easton said she would like "high density housing in the middle of town" which was good quality and met environmental standards.

"Social housing shouldn't be poor quality," she said.

Frances Kneller, Liberal Democrats

Image source, Stuart Lloyd

Frances Kneller said the Liberal Democrats in Chesham were concerned about the future of the green belt.

"We know it's really important for its beauty and environmental aspects," she said.

The chair of Chesham Youth Centre said she would want to take a "very proactive role in the development of a new local plan to ensure the green belt is protected".

Ms Kneller said the Liberal Democrats would want to "reverse the £2m planned cuts to tackle potholes and then double the investment to £4m to make pavements safer".

The party would also like to "reduce waste" by scaling down the number of councillors in the unitary authority "from 147 to under 100".

"We could save £2.4m a year and we could do a lot with that," she said.

"We could fix the potholes, invest more in adult social care and even open up the tips seven days a week rather than five."

Ms Kneller, who also works with the Chiltern Toy Bank, said she would also "support small and medium shops and businesses through the Covid recovery stage".

Other candidates standing in the unitary election in Chesham:

  • Mohammad Zafir Bhatti, Labour
  • Dave Cooper, Green
  • Jenny Cooper, Green
  • Kris Ochedowski, Liberal Democrats
  • Susan Procter, Labour
  • Nick Southworth, Conservatives
  • Michael John Stannard, Conservatives
  • Mark Titterington, Liberal Democrats

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