Alongside the general election on May 7, local elections taking place will see candidates standing for parish, town, district, and city councils.
Starting this week, the Wetherby News will publish profiles of the candidates at a local level.
Starting with the Wetherby ward, reporter James Metcalf speaks to the candidates on why they are running and why voters should put their trust in them. Currently held by Conservative Alan Lamb, whoever wins the seat will represent the people of Wetherby at Leeds City Council, working on issues such as housing, education, transport, and health.
Next week, profiles of candidates for the Harewood ward and the Tadcaster ward will be included.
The Conservative candidate for Wetherby and incumbent is Alan Lamb.
He has been a councillor at Leeds City Council, representing Wetherby, for eight years, is a former mayor, and also owns the Fox and Hounds near Walton.
He said his motivation for standing again is to get more things done for local people.
“The strange thing about politics is that as soon as you have achieved anything there is always something else to do. It never stops because it is about people’s lives and communities and they don’t stand still, and often the decisions politicians make have consequences they never thought of, so there is always something to do.
“In terms of the Wetherby area it has been a massive privilege to rep-resent people for the past eight years and I am very proud of the things I have achieved myself and with my colleagues, but there are things I still really want to get done.
“There is no magic pot of money from the council or the government, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from the people of Wetherby it’s that when something can make a big difference they are willing to go the extra mile.”
Coun Lamb added that his ambitions are focused locally and that there are issues he is proud to have faced and many more he wants to have the chance to look at.
“Most people think it is just a logical thing to stand again and most people assume that naturally I am looking to go into parliament. At one time I did have those ambitions but I like doing what I’m doing and I think I can make a positive difference to our community.
“There is kind of an expectation as a Conservative that you should somehow be ashamed that there is a foodbank in Wetherby, quite the contrary, I was extremely proud to help get that set up and I have argued constantly in council that every millionaire masks dozens and dozens of people that are having it really tough.
“That is not a new phenomenon and poverty hasn’t come to Wetherby in the last five years and I have also said many times it is much harder to be in poverty here than in inner-city areas and that is not good enough.
“One of my proudest achievements was to get the two children’s centres in Wetherby and to make sure they were sustainable and can stand on their own two feet because it is really important that we have services like that.
“There have always been pretty healthy Conservative majorities here but I am certain that if we didn’t do our jobs and represent people properly they wouldn’t keep sending us back to do it again.”
The Labour candidate for Wetherby John Lynch, a planning consultant with a background in planning at local government level. He lives in Bramham.
A Labour Party member since the late 1970s, Mr Lunch said he has been active in several campaigns, primarily in Wetherby’s constituency of Elmet and Rothwell, and that this will remain a focus for him.
“I think it is important the Labour Party is represented in every area, especially areas which are traditionally safe Conservative seats,” he said.
“It is important its members and supporters have a voice, and even in this area I think there are a significant number of Labour supporters and I have found that to be the case as I have been knocking on doors in the last year or so.
“The other thing is to raise the profile of the Labour Party, because we have the prospect of a very capable parliamentary candidate in Veronica King and my campaigning efforts are coordinated with her.”
Traditionally a Conservative area, Mr Lynch explained that Labour is a viable option for people who may be looking for an alternative.
“I have not sought a career in politics and I’m not going to start doing so now, nonetheless I think it is important Labour does present a credible choice for voters.
“I actually consider as well that in Wetherby in particular it is not immune from the effects of government policies, though it is one of the more affluent areas of Leeds. Poverty, shortage of housing prospects, are national issues that affect Wetherby, so there is a sense of conviction behind my campaign and I think it is important that the Labour alternative is available.”
With planning and housing issues facing the ward in light of the almost 5,000 houses earmarked for the outer north east area of the city region by 2028, Mr Lynch said his expertise in this area would be something he could contribute.
“I have a great deal of interest and some knowledge in the subject of planning, which is currently an issue of prominence in the Wetherby area, and frankly I am very critical of the local Conservatives who I think have been very hypocritical in a lot of ways.
“They blame Leeds City Council for everything that is unpopular and they conceal in a lot of ways that the Conservative government has imposed these national policies. I know from having heard them the local Conservatives don’t favour the provision of affordable housing, they prefer to see commuted payments, even though they are not now telling, that is the way it has been.
“They are opposing greenfield development in Spofforth Hill because it is a popular stance for them to take, similarly in Scholes, but at the same time they are promoting huge loss of greenfield land at Headley Fields and I am specifically opposed to that and it is not just a Bramham view that leads me to say that. That is one particular contribution I can make to the Labour campaign.”
The Green Party candidate for Wetherby Sam Murray, a professional musician and a PhD student researching sustainable arts and sustainable music scenes. He lives in Clifford.
He highlighted the environment as a serious concern for people all over the country that the Green Party will confront, but said Wetherby itself is in the forefront of his priori-ties as well.
“My main motivation to run is to represent the community and my neighbours.
“I am part of the Wetherby ward but Wetherby also has strong independent businesses and fantastic schools that are employing a high number of people in the area and it has astounding landscapes and beautiful areas that we want to protect and sustain for future generations.
“The Green Party is the only party you can trust to protect and sustain the environment. With Leeds City Council we have three councillors and we have a very specific Leeds manifesto.
“We have some very simple solutions and ideas that we want to bring to the table in this election - we want a city wide insulation scheme to make houses more efficient, we want to see all types of plastic and textiles recycled, and we want to see a reduction of food waste and this can be achieved in part through a scheme with shops displaying usable but out of date goods and that is something the Greens have got a concession for in the budget.”
“Our main priority alongside the environment and the main reason we are standing in these elections is that we want to ensure social care services are protected because the cuts against them have been frankly merciless and we want to do all we can to protect vulnerable people.
“There is a lot of concern about greenfield sites and you will probably hear the same narrative about prioritising brownfield sites from the other parties, but the Green Party wants to take back empty houses and reuse them.
“Another thing we have realised is that people want to have a bit more empowerment, so we want to devolve more powers to parish councils.
“We also think policing is incredibly important. We would like to put pressure on to see more neighbourhood policing. It is okay saying that and realising we are in a situation where there are cuts going on, but if we get a national Green government we could hopefully put more funding into neighbourhood policing and if it doesn’t happen we still want to put pressure on.”
The UKIP candidate for Wetherby is Bronwen Cole, a commissions manager in the finance operations directorate at O2 UK Ltd. She lives in Leeds.
Relatively new to the party, she said she did not have plans to stand this year but the previous candidate dropped out and she was asked to step in.
“I wanted to give the voters the option of selecting whichever party they wish to vote for. If there is not a full complement of political parties present, then it ceases to be a truly democratic process.
“I appreciate that I do not live in the immediate vicinity, however I’m close enough to be a visible presence and accessible to the residents in order to support any concerns they may have, and champion their plans to help grow
and improve the community.
“Three policies, in particular, are close to my heart. Affordable housing, green belt developments and access to education. Two of these could (and should) be solved by the redevelopment of brown-field sites.
“Wetherby is a beautiful area to live in, to spoil this by building new homes on green belt areas is a travesty. If elected, I would ensure that the residents get a voice on all major developments in the area and that affordable housing is prioritised to the local populace.
“Being a parent myself, access to a decent education has always been a priority for me. It’s disheartening to read about parents no longer having a choice of which school their child attends.
“We all want our children to leave school with a well-rounded education, having had the experience of a mentor that has helped them to become more confident and better prepared for the outside world.
“I went to a grammar school and I believe that the environment that created for me to learn in was exceptionally good.
“Now please don’t get me wrong, there are many secondary schools that are very good and produce great results. Unfortunately there are also some schools that struggle under the pressures of admin, assessments and lack of resource. These simply cannot accommodate to tailor the needs of the individual child.
“My aim would be to help keep the grammar schools open, and campaign for better resources and funding for all secondary schools. It is abundantly clear that the demands for these are high, and in order to operate effectively expansion is required.”
The Liberal Democrat candidate for Wetherby is Sara Howell. Sara grew up in North East Leeds, and is an enthusiastic Leeds United supporter and dog owner.
Housing and planning is an issue she will be focusing on, should she win the seat.
She said: “Liberal Democrats have a good record locally in Leeds for working hard and getting things done and I’d like to do the same for the Wetherby ward. Liberal Democrats have made a commitment to making the Labour council reduce its house building targets, especially as this adversely affects more rural communities such as ours.”
This is what was submitted to the Wetherby News for inclusion. However, the Liberal Democrats were presented with the option of an interview, as were all parties.