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Council critics won’t join the fray

Critics of the council who have already said they will not be standing for election include, from left, Sian Pettman, Andy Newell, Debbie Barwick, Richard Norman and Julie Wassmer
Critics of the council who have already said they will not be standing for election include, from left, Sian Pettman, Andy Newell, Debbie Barwick, Richard Norman and Julie Wassmer

With local elections next May, the political battles are likely to start in earnest in the New Year. But already a number of outspoken critics of the city council have indicated they will not be seeking election. Kingsmead Field campaigner and mother-of-three Sian Pettman said she would not be standing, citing family reasons. She said:

“I think it’s good that they are encouraging independent members, too, but we also need an active voice from the community.”

Debbie Barwick, who runs a vintage clothing shop in the city, is a regular visitor to council meetings and frequently berates the Tory leadership over issues. But this week she said she had “no aspiration” to be a councillor and was too busy with her shop. Prof Richard Norman, of St Michael’s Road, Canterbury, is an avid campaigner for greater democracy but said he would not be seeking election. He said:

“I understand some people might say you should put your money where your mouth is and I do have respect for those who give up a lot of their free time to be councillors. But I also believe you need people on the outside looking in and holding the council to account.”

Neither would vociferous critic and campaigner Julie Wassmer from Cromwell Road, Whitstable, put herself up for election. She said:

“I wouldn’t stand as a councillor because I can’t engage with the system. There is a democratic deficit in the council where decisions are pre-determined. If I was a councillor it would purely weaken me. It is much more effective to be a campaigner outside the system.”

Outspoken Herne Bay pier manna champion Andy Newell is another regular critic of the council who won’t be standing. He said:

“I have been approached to run as a councillor in the past, but I’ve always said I don’t want to be involved in it. I would be more happy trying to work as a person outside of the council. You can do better working on your own project for the community rather than getting tied up with red tape.”

Herne Bay Gazette, November 27th 2014

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