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Election Special

Updated: Jul 15, 2019


Local elections on Thursday 2nd May are Faversham’s opportunity to choose a council the town can work with and ensure our interests are represented properly on Swale Borough Council.

In the interests of democratic fairness, we sent questionnaires out to every party, asking candidates for their comments on a variety of local issues from decision-making transparency and council spending to the impact of housebuilding projects and the proposed Cleve Hill solar power plant. We had a good response overall, with some thoughtful and detailed answers. Read them in full online at: Candidate List.

Apart from town councillor Peter Flower, Conservative candidates chose not to answer – read into that what you will (but one of the questions was ‘Are you a Freemason?’).

We don’t believe local elections should be fought on party lines. It’s more important to pick councillors who are involved in the town and genuinely concerned about their constituents.

We've listed our personal picks for each ward...AND for those who wish to vote tactically, we've included 'Anything but the Tories' recommendations taking previous election results into account.


WATLING – four seats

At the last election in 2015, Conservatives won all four Watling seats but the two Labour candidates were not far behind with more than 1,000 votes apiece. This time around, the Lib Dems are joining the contest with four new nominations...



LABOUR - Gareth Reeves

Father-of-three Gareth has lived in Faversham all his life. As well as the A2 at Ospringe, he’s concerned about lack of investment in the ward and the impact of new developments.

“I’m disabled and a full time wheelchair user which gives me a different perspective to other candidates" he says. “I believe that Faversham is a wonderful town but people who have extra needs including young families and those who live on the outskirts are often forgotten. I want to change that.”

LIB DEM - Sam Blair, Ben Jonathan Martin, John Irwin, Eddie Thomas

Watling Lib Dems have been campaigning for a bypass at Ospringe, safety improvements to the dangerous Forbes Road crossing and a new pedestrian crossing at The Mall and promise to support sports clubs in the town including Faversham Rugby Club.

CONSERVATIVE - David Willis, Geoff Wade, David Simmons, Jane Hawkins

(no information provided)

EYE VOTE: 1. Gareth Reeves (Labour) 2. Any three of the Lib Dem candidates Ben J Martin, Sam Blair, Eddie Thomas and John Irwin

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Four votes] 1. Gareth Reeves (LAB) 2-4. Any three of Ben J Martin (LIB DEM), Sam Blair (LIB DEM), Eddie Thomas (LIB DEM) or John Irwin (LIB DEM).


PRIORY – two seats

Lib Dem councillor Ben Martin (Not to be confused with Watling Lib Dem candidate Ben Jonathan Martin) is leaving Faversham Town Council and instead standing in the Swale elections. Lib Dems are fielding only one candidate in Priory – Alison Reynolds – while also supporting sitting Independent councillor Claire Belsom, who they describe as an ‘excellent local representative’.



LABOUR - Jenny Hamilton

Longstanding Labour activist and mother of three Jenny works for the NHS, lives on the North Preston Estate, has a long history of local volunteering. She says: “I think there is huge potential to transform Faversham if councillors really care about the community they live in.” Her priorities include tackling underfunding and neglect and improving play areas in North Preston.

LIB DEM - Alison Reynolds

Alison created and has run the Jubilee Centre for 15 years. Her campaign issues include lorries, traffic levels, the dangerous road outside Davington School, absurdly costly creek footpath proposals, together with its high cost, the lack of affordable housing for local people and things to do for young people.

INDEPENDENT - Claire Belsom

Claire grew up in North Preston, attended Davington Primary School and then the Abbey School and has lived in Faversham all her life. She has four children, all educated in the Town, and works in a GP surgery in town. An effective and popular town councillor for the last four years, she has been the council’s representative on Faversham Health Matters and a member of the Brents Community Association management committee.

CONSERVATIVE - Andy Culham, Sean Dunn

(no information provided)

EYE VOTE: 1. Alison Reynolds (LIB DEM) 2. Claire Belsom (IND) or Jenny Hamilton (LAB)

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Two votes] 1. Claire Belsom (IND) 2. Alison Reynolds (LIB DEM)


ABBEY – four seats

In the last full Town election, four Conservative candidates were elected with about 850 votes each. Since then, one stood down and was replaced by Lib Dem Antony Hook. This time only Peter Flower is standing for the Conservatives as Anita Walker is now Independent.



LABOUR - Trevor Payne, Anne Salmon

The old guard of the Labour Party, Trevor Payne and Anne Salmon are somewhat tainted by their too cosy relationship with the incumbent ruling Tories and their involvement in the Creek Neighbourhood Plan stitch-up.

LIB DEM - Antony Hook, Hannah Perkin, Denise Knights, Chris Williams

Based on the likelihood of successfully being elected and representing the interests of the population above tribal politics and self-interest, the Lib Dem team look like the best bet.

UKIP - Jess Valentine

(no information provided)

INDEPENDENT - Anita Walker

Recently deselected after many years as a Conservative, Anita Walker is possibly independent in name only.


Capable of independent thought, clearly cares about the Town and has actively supported local events and organisations.

Andy Hanks, James Copland, Mark Evans

(no information provided)

EYE VOTE: 1. Antony Hook (LIB DEM) 2. Hannah Perkin (LIB DEM) 3. Denise Knights (LIB DEM) or Chris Williams (LIB DEM) 4. Peter Flower (CONS)

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Four votes] 1. Antony Hook (LIB DEM) 2. Hannah Perkin (LIB DEM) 3. Denise Knights (LIB DEM) 4. Chris Williams (LIB DEM)


ST ANN’S – four seats

With no Green candidates in St Ann’s, the party is encouraging its supporters to vote for the two Labour candidates Carole Jackson Julian Saunders who have campaigned solidly for 18 months. Labour is the best tactical vote to unseat Tory councillors Mike Cosgrove and Nigel Kay in this ward.



LABOUR - Carole Jackson

Carole has brought up a family and lived locally all her life. She was a senior union steward for 20 years at Faversham Tesco and says: “People know I am approachable, determined and keep my promises”. Carole’s priorities include safer roads, action on rising petty crime and anti-social behaviour, better infrastructure to cope with Faversham’s increasing population, more funding for the swimming pools, affordable housing, more training and facilities for young people and more open and cooperative local government.

Julian Saunders

Julian worked as a local government officer helping young people get into work for over 30 years and is now heavily involved in local campaigns and groups in Faversham. He is Treasurer of the Faversham Footpaths Group and the Town Twinning Association. He organised a recent petition to protect Faversham Library’s opening hours. He says: “I’ve always worked hard to ensure that the public get good council services, I will be doing the same as a councillor”.

LIB DEM - Kris Barker , Trevor Martin, Peter Cook

Faversham’s Lib Dems are campaigning on issues including greater openness and public consultation over projects such as the Stone Street memorial garden, 12 Market Place and the huge cost of the proposed Upper Brents creekside footpath, development of the creek, the lack of infrastructure for the huge housing developments around the town. They are calling for more youth activities and facilities and have some innovative housing ideas including forming a Council-owned development company to provide affordable homes.

CONSERVATIVE - Findlay McDonald, Simon Moore, Nigel Kay, Mike Cosgrove

(no information provided)

EYE VOTE: 1. Carole Jackson (LAB) 2.Julian Saunders (LAB) 3. Trevor Martin, Kris Barker or Peter Cook (LIB DEM)

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Four votes] 1. Carole Jackson (LAB) 2. Julian Saunders (LAB) 3-4. Any two of Trevor Martin (LIB DEM), Kris Barker (LIB DEM) or Peter Cook (LIB DEM)




WATLING – two seats

Neither of the sitting conservatives Ted Wilcox and David Simmons are running in Watling, opening up opportunities for both Labour and Lib Dems.



LABOUR - Gareth Reeves

LIB DEM - Ben Jonathan Martin, Eddie Thomas

CONSERVATIVE - Jane Hawkins, Geoff Wade

Eye Vote: Ben Jonathan Martin, (LIB DEM) Gareth Reeves (LAB)

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Two votes] 1. Gareth Reeves (LAB) 2. Eddie Thomas (LIB DEM) or Ben Jonathan Martin (LIB DEM)


PRIORY – one seat

With Lib Dem councillor Mike Henderson retiring after 22 years, his Lib Dem colleague Ben A Martin aims to follow in his footsteps in Priory Ward.



LABOUR - Jenny Hamilton

LIB DEM - Ben A Martin

GREENS - Peter Hutchinson


Eye Vote: Ben A Martin (LIB DEM)

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [One vote] Ben A Martin LIB DEM)


ABBEY – two seats

In the 2015 Swale election, Anita Walker got most votes standing as a Conservative candidate. Now Independent, support for her may split the Tory vote. The election of Green Party candidates Phil Wyard and Henry Stanton would be welcome in the light of the increasingly alarming prospect of irreversible damage caused by global warming.



LABOUR - Trevor Payne, Anne Salmon

LIB DEM - Denise Knights, Hannah Perkin

GREEN - Henry Stanton, Philip Wyard

INDEPENDENT - Anita Walker

CONSERVATIVE - James Copland, Mark Evans

UKIP - Jess Valentine

Eye Vote: Denise Knights (LIB DEM), and Hannah Perkin

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Two votes] 1.Hannah Perkin (LIB DEM) 2. Denise Knights (LIB DEM)


ST ANNS – two seats

Labour’s Carole Jackson and Julian Saunders are popular candidates who have run a strong campaign while sitting Conservatives Michael Cosgrove and Nigel Kay have been mired in controversy over the unpopular war memorial and 12 Market Place projects.


LABOUR - Carole Jackson, Julian Saunders

LIB DEM - Kris Barker

CONSERVATIVE - Mike Cosgrove, Nigel Kay

Eye Vote: Carole Jackson (LAB) and Julian Saunders (LAB)

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Two votes] 1. Carole Jackson (LAB) 2. Julian Saunders (LAB)



Although not a Town Ward, this local area is of great interest. Sitting councillors are Conservative Swale Leader Andrew Bowles, recently suspended for retweeting racist propaganda, and former Conservative George Bobbin, now standing as an independent. Both received around 1500 votes last time. Bowles has shown himself to be unworthy of re-election while Bobbin, a long serving and generally ineffective councillor who always followed the party line will be like a fish out of water operating independently but could split the Tory vote.

This opens up an opportunity to elect the two Green candidates. Alastair Gould and Tim Valentine. Alastair Gould, a Faversham GP for nearly thirty years, is a senior partner in the busy Newton Place surgery. He is a committed environmentalist and spends much of his limited spare time volunteering on community activities. Tim Valentine took early retirement from University of London where he was Professor of Psychology. He now spends his time working on community projects and wild life trusts.

Their commitment to the environment and deep knowledge of the wider needs of our area would be put to effective use as Swale Councillors, especially representing a ward facing the grave threat of Britain’s biggest solar power plant.



INDEPENDENT - George Bobbin

GREEN - Alistair Gould, Tim Valentine


CONSERVATIVE - Andrew Bowles, Ian Henderson

Eye Vote: Alistair Gould (GREEN) and Tim Valentine (GREEN)

Tactical 'Anybody but the Tories' vote: [Two votes] 1. Alistair Gould (GREEN) 2. Tim Valentine (GREEN)



There are seven principles of public life as defined by the Local Government Association. Councillors should: Should act solely in the public interest. Must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships. They must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

Councillors are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this. Councillors should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for doing so.

Councillors should be truthful. Councillors should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to change poor behaviour wherever it occur. If you think your councillors have followed these rules then vote for them again. If you don’t, then vote for someone who you believe will. Whoever gets elected, The Faversham Eye will hold them to account.


Note: In the published and original print version of this article the Eye preference for Abbey SBC candidates were the two Green counsillors, after subsequent conversations with the Lib Dem candidates the Eye has since changed its recommendation to Hannah Perkins and Denise Knights in the light of their splendid  past performance  in environmental conservation. For further clarification please read the comments. 

In the original published version of this article there was no Watling Ward recommendation due to oversight, this has now been added.

This article has also been amended following feedback that Claire Belsom's occupation has changed.

Amendments will not appear in the print version of the eye.


Faversham Eye
Faversham Eye

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