We interviewed Stephen prior to the local elections in May, and now he’s written for us about his experiences so far as a Parish Councillor.
Last May I put myself forward for Hellingly Parish Council and also to be a Hailsham district councillor for Wealden. I live in Hellingly and thought I would have a very good chance to get elected to the parish council as I am known through the local community. The district election was always going to be a lot tougher representing the SDP, and with being a ‘smaller party’. The big issue with Wealden residents is housing developments, especially in the north of the district and this saw the Greens pick up seats there and in South Wealden it appeared to be a anti-conservative vote. Parish elections are more about the local community rather than party politics and I think the election results back this up.
In May I elected to the 15 seat Hellingly Parish Council and sit on a couple of the subcommittees. I already knew a few of the councillors who were re-elected. The good thing about a parish council is that all its members live local and have a good understanding about the local community. The Parish Council clerks are brilliant at what they do and maintain the day to day running of council business. There is a mutual respect amongst all the councillors and at my first full council meeting I didn’t feel intimidated or made to feel unwelcome. Over my tenure I want to represent the local community by doing the right thing and supporting the residents. Hellingly is in a good place at the moment, and I want to continue the hard work that has gone before.
I have also been adopted to stand in the next General Election as PPC for the SDP in Wealden. With a possible election next year, we are starting to put together a campaign and look at what we need to do. The SDP have some fantastic common sense policies available on www.sdp.org.uk these include, re-nationalise the railways and utilities, pause mass immigration and make a decent home available for everyone. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour are so out of touch and fail to address any issue head on.
What made me do it? Like a lot of people, I was getting fed up with government not representing my views or listening to normal people. So, I stood in the 2019 General Election and put myself forward for local government to challenge and try to and make a difference. I would say to anyone if you are not happy with things the way they are and want to bring about change, get involved. Whether if its standing for election or even delivering leaflets, being part of something that challenges what is wrong, is the right thing to do.
It can be daunting and lonely on the campaign trail often with yourself in the spotlight. Be confident in your ability, plan, prepare and research and you will always be better. Get back up and go again when you get knocked down.
The SDP is a patriotic, economically left-leaning, and culturally traditional political party. We spoke with Stephen Gander who is standing for them for Hellingly Parish Council, and in the Hailsham West ward of Wealden District Council.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?
I’ve lived in Hellingly for the past twelve years and Wealden for over 25 years. My wife is a successful, local independent swimming teacher and both my boys go to school in Hailsham. As a family we like to support local events including helping the local community fridge and would like to say that we have a good relationship with the local council and its members. I ran as a candidate in the 2019 General Election in Eastbourne.
I joined the SDP in early 2020 as most of the other partys didn’t reflect where I wanted to be and it was the only party that had common sense policies that sat well with my core beliefs. The SDP believe in the family and the local community seeking the common good in Britain’s national interest. The majority of people would look at the SDP’s policies and agree with the majority, if not all of them. I think the electorate should really have a look and ‘give them a go’.
Can you introduce Hellingly Parish and Hailsham West ward to us and say what you can bring to the area?
Hellingly has grown over the last decade with development of the old hospital site. Life within Hellingly and its country park is both picturesque and calming. There is a great community spirit and a great sense of comradery which I would like to encourage and be more of a part of.
Hailsham is the biggest town in the district of Wealden and is a nice market town with an array of shops and pleasant community standards. I would bring a consistency and a voice to Hailsham and Wealden residents.
Whilst I don’t think there are massive changes needed in the councils, there is a need for scrutiny with regards to new developments and its effects on the local community. This issue is very high up on the local and surrounding areas, residents list.
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?