Independents throw their hats in the ring for Welwyn Hatfield Council elections

PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 April 2018

The six Independent candidates ahead of the Welwyn Hatfield borough council elections (L-R) Carl Storer, Susan Storer, Carol Beckerman, Sandra Kyriakides, George Saunders and Jon Beckerman. Picture: STEPHEN HARVEY

The six Independent candidates ahead of the Welwyn Hatfield borough council elections (L-R) Carl Storer, Susan Storer, Carol Beckerman, Sandra Kyriakides, George Saunders and Jon Beckerman. Picture: STEPHEN HARVEY

©2018 Stephen Harvey - all rights reserved

A group of borough council hopefuls have formed an Independent group and are aiming to gatecrash the status quo at next month’s elections.

Buster casting his vote at New Zion Church on Colegreen Lane, in Welwyn Garden City.Buster casting his vote at New Zion Church on Colegreen Lane, in Welwyn Garden City.

There are seven candidates standing in different wards without an affiliation to a political party, but they are planning to use that to their advantage at the May 3 poll.

Among them are Jon and Carol Beckerman, competing in Sherrards and Hatfield Villages respectively, and former councillor Sandra Kyriakides, who is hoping to represent Welwyn West.

Carl Storer and Susan Storer are standing in Welwyn East and Panshanger, while George Saunders is running in Hollybush.

The group said it is looking to contact Melvyn Jones, who is listed as standing for the ‘Abolish the Town Council Party’ in Hatfield South West.

The six Independent candidates ahead of the Welwyn Hatfield borough council elections (L-R) Carl Storer, Susan Storer, Carol Beckerman, Sandra Kyriakides, George Saunders and Jon Beckerman. Picture: STEPHEN HARVEYThe six Independent candidates ahead of the Welwyn Hatfield borough council elections (L-R) Carl Storer, Susan Storer, Carol Beckerman, Sandra Kyriakides, George Saunders and Jon Beckerman. Picture: STEPHEN HARVEY

The six candidates’ leaflets are all emblazoned with the message: “Local politics are exactly that – local – not party

political.

“Our newly formed group of Independent candidates for Welwyn Hatfield includes several former councillors with many years of valuable experience between them.

“Former councillors who want to be free to stand up for the rights and interests of those who have elected them.”

The six Independent candidates ahead of the Welwyn Hatfield borough council elections (L-R) Carl Storer, Susan Storer, Carol Beckerman, Sandra Kyriakides, George Saunders and Jon Beckerman. Picture: STEPHEN HARVEYThe six Independent candidates ahead of the Welwyn Hatfield borough council elections (L-R) Carl Storer, Susan Storer, Carol Beckerman, Sandra Kyriakides, George Saunders and Jon Beckerman. Picture: STEPHEN HARVEY

The political landscape is finely balanced, as a three-seat swing would see the Conservative Party lose its overall majority.

Sandra Kyriakides told the WHT that the Independents used the same flyer format to have “continuity of identity”, and hope the allure of having no ‘party line’ will win voters over.

She added: “So many bad decisions have been voted through by sheer force of numbers, by a group who had the majority of numbers enabling them to do so.”

The Independents’ leaflets say major issues they would target if elected are insufficient infrastructure to cope with the Local Plan and “ever-increasing” A1(M) problems.

They would also look to tackle problems with parking, fly-tipping, litter and bin collections.

Former borough councillor George Saunders, who is also Ms Kyriakides’ partner, said he has been involved within Welwyn Hatfield for 30 years and has lived in Welwyn since his retirement in 2016.

He previously worked as a comedian at local venues and also served in the Royal Navy for 10 years.

“Over the past six years, I became interested in local politics through my partner,” he said. “I now have the time to offer my services to the community and feel that I can best do this as an Independent councillor.”

Carl Storer, a former councillor for 16 years, has lived in Oaklands since 1984 and said he cares “passionately” about Welwyn East.

The former Welwyn Hatfield mayor added: “If elected on May 3 as your Independent councillor for Welwyn East, I will stand up for residents and put their needs first.

“I will not make shallow promises like some political parties just to get your vote.”

Former Tory Jon Beckerman spent 10 years as a councillor – seven for Sherrards – and said he became “increasingly disillusioned” with many of the Tories’ decisions, which he voted against on several occasions.

He added: “If elected, I can continue to serve the residents of Sherrards ward without restriction.

“I ask you to vote in the local elections for a person who will listen, will work for you and who will put your best interests before any party line.”

His wife, Carol Beckerman, said working from home as an author has made her conscious of local residents’ concerns.

She added that having gleaned knowledge from Mr Beckerman she now has the incentive and confidence to run herself.

“We both feel very strongly about the need for change in local politics and this is why I would like to also offer my services,” Mrs Beckerman added.

Susan Storer went to school in WGC and gained pre-nursing experience at the QEII before eventually working as an Independent Health Visitor in Panshanger and Hatfield.

She said she supported her husband in his roles for 16 years, adding: “I was privileged to have the opportunity of meeting the many people in Welwyn Hatfield who give up their time to support others.”

Melvyn Jones did not respond to a request for comment.


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