Malcolm Watkinson

Shepway Green Party has announced long-time local resident and business owner Malcolm Watkinson as its candidate for February’s Romney Marsh by-election, when it looks to continue a run of success that last year saw it gain control of Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC).

Greens won more votes than any other party last May, gaining seats in every ward where it campaigned. As a result, the party has been running the council in coalition with the LibDems, keeping promises to save Princes Parade in Hythe from development, fixing the council’s finances in the face of a £4.5 million deficit and speaking up loudly on issues such as bus chaos, flooding and sewage dumps and opposing cuts to local youth services.

Malcolm promises to be a voice for residents on the Marsh as its first Green Party councillor:

“As someone who has lived here for nearly 40 years and is a local employer, I understand the challenges residents and businesses alike are facing right now. I will speak up to force Southern Water to prevent sewage making the sea unsafe to swim in at St Mary’s Bay, threatening local tourism, and to stop rainwater flooding homes in Dymchurch, and I will push Stagecoach to improve local bus services. I will also be a strong voice for the Marsh in the council chamber, ensuring that this unique part of our district is championed, not neglected.”

A father and grandfather, Malcolm is a patron of JAM on the Marsh and is actively involved with the maintenance and preservation of some of the historic Marsh churches. His manufacturing company produces critical equipment for the water and renewable energy industries – something of a personal passion for Malcolm, who designed and built his first heat pump when he was 18 years old and later designed his own experimental solar water heating system for his bungalow.

Says Cllr Jim Martin, Leader of  FHDC:

“As a long-time local campaigner for the Green Party, Malcolm played a huge part in our success last year and I would love to have him alongside me in the council chamber to represent residents and businesses on the Marsh.

“In nine short months we’ve given the people of Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh their council back. It’s been a huge privilege to serve as the first Green leader of a council in Kent and to show what we can do when voters put their trust in us, listening to residents, working with the community and demonstrating what responsible local government looks like. People have told me they are delighted with how hard our councillors have been working for them and I know Malcolm would be a first-rate councillor for people in Dymchurch, St Mary’s Bay and the rest of the Romney Marsh ward.”

The Romney Marsh by-election, on 22 February, was sparked by the resignation of one of the five Conservative councillors elected last May, when voters ended the Conservatives’ 16 years running FHDC (the last four of them relying on support from an independent and two UKIP councillors on the Marsh). Last year also saw Jenni Hawkins win a Kent County Council by-election in Hythe West (which includes Dymchurch) and the party gained overall control of Hythe Town Council.

By Ed

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