As Lichfield and Burntwood voters prepare to go to the ballot box for the local elections on May 5, The Lichfield Blog has offered each of the candidates the chance to have their say.

We’ve sent out questionaires to all District Council candidates and will publish their responses on the site to help you decide where to put your cross on election day. If your local candidates haven’t responded yet, why not chase them?

Name: Rich Spencer
Party: Green Party
Ward: Stowe
Occupation: Library Resources Centre Staff/Freelance Photographer

What has made you decide to stand for election?
I felt the unrepresented by the choices at the General Election. The Green Party, for me, had the only manifesto that made sense.  I joined up because I wanted to see what the party were doing locally, and I came to understand more about the party’s grassroots structure, whereby the members are actively encouraged to participate, whether it be in making decisions on policy or indeed representing the party itself.

I wanted to give people in Stowe ward an opportunity to vote for a genuine and radical alternative.  By representing the Greens I’m hoping to make it clear to them that there will be a Party offering viable policy opposition to the ‘Business as Usual’ this time.

What are the key local issues for you in your ward?
As has been previously reported on this blog, I spoke out against the proposed High Speed 2 Rail Link.  Although the route does not directly affect the people of the Stowe Ward, it’s important to consider how it will not create any benefits for the city in general and will swallow funds which would be far better invested in improving our existing public transport network.  Public transport needs huge investment if it’s going to be of any benefit to the people of this community and the environment around us.

Many people are unhappy with the council’s planning decisions with regards to the so-called improvements to Minster Pool and Beacon Park, which are causing so much disruption in the centre.  These developments are only the most recent in what many see as a catalogue of errors,  including:

  • the expensive repaving of the centre, which is now crumbling apart, most notably around St. Mary’s.
  • the rather insubstantial changes made to Stowe Field, seeming to consist of a couple of benches and a triangular circuit.
  • the highly ill-fitting replacement for the Arts Centre by Minster Pool, not only an eyesore but it completely failed to fulfil the criteria of having a public gallery space (whilst the remains of the Grade 2 Listed Post Office were unceremoniously dumped in a field).

These clearly demonstrate the need for better consultation, transparency and accountability at many levels of the planning process. I would work towards improving all of these, in order to ensure council tax payers get the best possible value for money in these financially uncertain times.

If you are elected how do you plan to keep your constituents informed of what you are doing to represent them?
Similarly to other existing Green Party councillors, for me communication with the public is central to the role. It is only by listening to residents that local issues can be identified, and then dealt with. I would aim to knock on the front door of every household in the ward once a year in order to conduct a survey into residents’ grievances. I would also aim to publish and distribute a printed newsletter every three months, paid by money raised through donation to the Green Party for that purpose.

I would create a website featuring news and information relevant to residents in Stowe ward. Alternatively, I will be contactable through email and social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook (you can already find me as “Rich Spencer: Lichfield Green Party Candidate”) where I shall also post news about what’s happening in the area as well as Party News which is relevant to those in the region.

I also intend to keep The Lichfield Blog and print media informed along the same lines.

How do you feel you will be able to make a difference to your constituents?
I live in Stowe ward. I see and share residents’ concerns every day. For me, being a Councillor involves a mixture of communication and taking action to solve the issues which really make a difference to people’s lives at street level.

Unlike most councillors, who once elected often fail to consult residents and act according to their own views, I would also seek residents’ opinions on individual issues, possibly through a panel of local people of all ages.

Anything else you would like to add?
We’re still told that our economy is still in crisis and yet the coalition Government would still have us believe that we should fund wasteful projects like HS2 and the Trident replacement with our taxes as they continue to cut jobs in public services and talk about closing down our libraries and other important institutions. I would fight to protect public jobs and the services we all rely on.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” It seems like a cliché to say it at election time, but Ghandi’s words are most important on the local stage because we must set an example to show the outside world how it is meant to be done.  This means taking an active role in our community and making a stand for our principles.

Also standing in the Stowe ward (once they have responded, these will link to the response):

  • Jeyan Anketell (Lib Dem)
  • Bernard Derrick (Conservative)
  • Colin Greatorex (Conservative)
  • Karen Maunder (UKIP)
  • Max Rea (Lib Dem)
  • Christel Roe (Lib Dem)
  • Stephen Sanders (Labour)
  • David Smedley (Conservative)
  • Malcolm Watson (Labour)
  • Caroline Wood (Labour)

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.