The SDP is a patriotic, economically left-leaning, and culturally traditional political party. We’ve interviewed Steve Tanner who is standing for them in the Wayfield and Weeds Wood ward of Medway Council.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?
An IT professional, I moved to England from Australia in 2005, starting off in London as most do, before meeting my now wife who lured me to the exotic Medway Valley. We have lived in our current house in Wayfield for over twelve years, raising four children, the youngest two of which are still in secondary education locally.
I joined the Social Democratic Party in May 2022 after several years of checking them out. Although politically interested, I’ve never been politically active – let alone joined a party – until recently. The SDP ticked all the right boxes for me: traditional and patriotic; believing that public assets and services should be owned by the public; and its belief that increased housebuilding can only be sustainable with a much-reduced immigration limit.
Can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?
Wayfield and Weeds Wood is a new ward created for the 2023 local elections after a recent boundary review. The area is generally working-class, attractive for many young families with its numerous primary and secondary schools, parks and open spaces, and also has quite a large elderly population. There is a substantial amount of social housing, which does help to allow extended family members to stay in the area.
My main concerns specifically in the ward are the reduced bus services and under-provision of primary health services, and if elected to Medway Council I would endeavour to gain improvements in both areas for our residents.
More widely what would you like to see change at the Council and across the area?
In addition to improving the provision of bus and primary health services across Medway, as well as in my own ward, my other priorities if elected will be to help get the lapsed local plan back on track, and to improve the Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services in school. Medway, like all parts of the country, desperately needs more housing, but planning approval must be sympathetic to the concerns of existing residents, and not at the expense of our special green spaces. And closer to my heart, having a child with learning difficulties, I would certainly like to see the access to, and quality of SEND services enhanced.
Even after an extremely successful election for us, we would still only have two councillors so would have to work closely with the party in control and the other opposition parties and individuals to achieve anything meaningful. At the local level, there are likely to be many areas of consensus anyway, but it would be great to have more smaller parties and independents represented on council.
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?
We have a comprehensive suite of policies on our website at sdp.org.uk. I’d recommend anyone interested to read through them along with our ‘New Declaration’, also on the site. Joining the party as either a full or associate member is very affordable.
I am the chair of the SDP Medway and Maidstone Group. We meet on the last Saturday of each month, usually in a pub in south Rochester. We would welcome existing and prospective members to attend, even from outside the area. Details of each meeting are posted from my Twitter account: @SteveTanner_SDP.
If you wish to contact me at a more official level, my email address is: [email protected]