Cambridgeshire County Council elections, May 2013: our candidates

This article introduces the four candidates standing for the position of County Councillor for Queen Edith’s on 2 May 2013. If you’d like to read my full background article on the forthcoming elections (and I’d recommend you do so!), please take a look at “Cambridgeshire County Council elections, May 2013: Discuss.” – don’t worry, this article will still be here when you get back.

So: two weeks to the 2013 Cambridgeshire County Council elections, and we now know the four candidates asking for our vote. I’m not intending to be particularly opinionated in this article, but would just like to introduce the candidates, and what I’ve been able to find out about them …which in some cases, isn’t much. You do wonder how many of these people actually want to be elected, and how many are standing just to make up their political party’s numbers. I’ve had election literature through my door from two of the four candidates, and there are a number of posters and boards displayed locally for the same two. But in this age of online communication, no candidate seems organised enough to mount a web, email or social media-based campaign, which I find amazing. In fact, only one of the four candidates even has a web page promoting their candidacy for the post, so if you’ve been looking online for information about them, you haven’t missed anything. I shall do my best to make up for that here. However, with so little to go on, I’m probably going to rely on the candidates themselves putting me right in the comments at the bottom!

So, in alphabetical order, here goes.

Cambridgeshire County Council nominations for Queen Edith's, 2013

John Beresford

John BeresfordDr Beresford is standing under the Labour and Co-operative Party banner, and is a resident of Cavendish Avenue. He is the only one of the four candidates who (at the time of writing) appears to have bothered to create a web page introducing himself in this election, where it says: “after a career in education, he is passionate about standing up for our schools from damaging Tory and Liberal Democrat government policies. He also wants to defend our NHS from being privatised by stealth through the forced competitive tendering of vital services by this government.” In his printed campaign literature, he claims to be representing “the only real party of opposition”, and highlights the local issues of green belt erosion, the layout of Wulfstan Way, and the local parking review. He also says that he has “actively supported Rock Road Library, and the new pub planned for Queen Edith’s.” He wants “decent play areas for children in the ward” and is “committed to maintaining vital bus links in and out of the city”. According to Colin Rosenstiel’s excellent election records website, Dr Beresford stood as a city council candidate in Queen Edith’s in 1995 and 1996, and as a county council candidate in 1997, performing respectably – but unsuccessfully – on each occasion.

William Birkin

Mr Birkin is another resident of the division, living on Queen Edith’s Way, and is the Green Party candidate. This is his first time standing as a candidate here in Queen Edith’s, although he stood for the Green Party in the Abbey Ward in last year’s city council elections, where his party lost the seat to Labour. Unfortunately I can’t find out anything about Mr Birkin, not even on his own party’s website. No campaign literature has come through the door either.

Tom Bygott

Tom BygottMr Bygott lives in Oakington, which seems a long way from Queen Edith’s, and is standing for the Conservative Party. He was elected as the councillor for Girton on South Cambridgeshire District Council in 2006, and re-elected in 2010; however, I’m not sure when or why he resigned that position, assuming he did so. It’s difficult to know, as there appears to be nothing current online about him, other than a photograph on his local party’s website. (Update: as the commenter below points out, just because Mr Bygott is standing in this election doesn’t mean he’s no longer in his current post. My wrong assumption). He is a governor at Addenbrooke’s, and there’s a more informative profile of him there than I can find anywhere else. The Cambridge News last year suggested there’d been “calls for him to resign” from the council after it was revealed that he’d claimed that “the council planning department existed mainly to provide work for unemployed architects” and that staff were “actively hostile to the interests of residents”. With the absence of online information, and having had no campaign literature through the door from the Conservatives for this election, I can’t report on what Mr Bygott feels are the issues for Queen Edith’s.

Amanda Taylor

Amanda TaylorI think it is fair to say that Ms Taylor, representing the Liberal Democrat Party, is easily the best known of the four candidates in Queen Edith’s, having been city councillor for the ward from 1994 until last year. However, after these 18 years as a councillor for Queen Edith’s, she lost her seat in May to Sue Birtles, who became Queen Edith’s first ever city councillor from the Labour Party. As fortune would have it, Ms Taylor’s equally long-standing colleague on the county council, Geoff Heathcock, announced soon afterwards that he would be retiring at this coming election, leaving the way open for Ms Taylor to now attempt to return to local political representation, albeit on a different council. A resident of Holbrook Road, Ms Taylor has continued to be involved in local issues during the last year, and has retained a high profile locally. Her online presence includes a profile here and a personal local Liberal Democrats blog here, but no dedicated page or site for this election, from what I can see. However, local residents will doubtless be aware of Ms Taylor’s efforts and views from the copious amounts of printed literature delivered by her local party, where she says she “secured £100,000 towards lighting on the Guided Busway cycle path”, supports the residents’ campaign for improvements to cycleways on Long Road, has been “active in the campaign to save Rock Road (library) from threats of closure”, is “supporting the application for the new pub on Wulfstan Way”, and is involved in many other local issues. She says that “on the county council, only the Lib Dems challenge what the ruling rural Conservatives do, and only the Lib Dems put forward alternatives.”

My Thoughts

Anyone who is interested in this election will have their own priority issues for candidates, I’m sure. I would urge anyone to put the candidates on the spot with their own concerns if they come around to your doorstep, but if you’d like to contact them directly, here are the email addresses I can find for them:

John Beresford: johnberesford29@virginmedia.com
William Birkin: billbirkin@yahoo.co.uk
Tom Bygott: tom@bygott.net
Amanda Taylor: amanda@ajtmail.co.uk

Amanda Taylor appears to be the only one of the four candidates active on Twitter, and you can follow and interact with her at @librallady. Ms Taylor also manages a Queen Edith’s Facebook page here.

I have a couple of questions I want to put to them, and will report back here in a third pre-election article next week. Update: here it is.

10 Replies to “Cambridgeshire County Council elections, May 2013: our candidates”

What do you think? Add your comments here