Our Councillors

Cllr. David Smith

Aylesford & East Stour

I came to Ashford in 1967 to work for the Ashford Council as an accountant. My 29 years working there included 10 years as an auditor and ended up with a 7 year stint running the contracts and the administration of the Health and Leisure Department. When I retired early in 1996, I took a 9 month break before I moved into the private sector and spent 11 years managing the finance wing of a private bank. In 2007, when I was asked to stand for election, I retired so that I was able to devote the necessary time.

Although I have been an employee and now a Councillor in local authorities for a total of 43 years, I am still surprised that some Councillors can do next to nothing for the Council and their residents and the Council can do nothing about it, provided the Councillor occasionally attends a meeting and signs the attendance register.

I have lived in South Willesborough since 1983 and have been married to Christine Kathawick-Smith since 1994. I strongly believe that Councillors should live in the areas they represent, so they can see the problems first hand and appreciate what needs to be done and I am fully supported in this aim by Christine.

In my limited spare time I watch American NASCAR and IndyCar motor racing and British Formula 1 Stock Car Racing on TV. I have a wide taste in music which is essentially played very loud and together with Christine, we have a very deep love of animals and birds, both domestic and protecting those in the wild.

Cllr. Andy Rogers

Aylesford & East Stour

I have lived in both South Willesborough and Willesborough for the last 14 years and have been inspired to stand in this election by observing Cllr David Smith, whom I have supported as a Borough Councillor over many years.

As residents, we all need a champion in our Borough Council.  By living in the Aylesford and East Stour area, I offer my own understanding of local concerns as the reason why I think I can represent our Ward in Ashford Borough Council.  I hear the concerns and see the issues first-hand in our Ward every day; I know the challenges we are facing and from local experience, I have ideas as to how we could deal with them.

The future of Ashford, is the future of my own family – so I am passionate about my neighbourhood and want to contribute to making it a great place to live and work. 

I am excited to have the opportunity to stand as an Ashford Independent candidate alongside David and to work with him to represent our Ward.  I believe that standing as an Independent candidate brings a fresh perspective to local politics; one that is more free to reflect the concerns being expressed by our residents  daily. By voting Independent you will be voting to put your voice in Ashford Borough Council as I am committed to listening to your concerns and raising them in Council debates. 

Cllr. Howard Turner

Bybrook Ward

Howard lives on Faversham Road.  He has a keen interest in ecology and design, having studied at Canterbury Art College and volunteered for The Kentish Stour Countryside Project, alongside his career in retail. Ashford born and bred, Howard’s family have a long history in the town.  His great-grandfather, T. Morris-Turner, had a shop in the Lower High Street and his father Gordon Turner was a Councillor for Newtown and S. Willesborough for 28 years. 

Howard hopes to carry on the family tradition of serving and representing the people of Ashford.

Cllr. Katy Ovenden

Conningbrook & Little Burton Farm

I am 28 years old and an Ashford resident, born and bred!

Ashford has changed tremendously during throughout my life. The pace and scale of change is uncomfortable for many local people. Listening to my friends and neighbours has convinced me that the real people of Ashford must stand up and get involved in our Borough Council.

As a local girl, now with a daughter of my own, I would like to help shape the way our Borough grows, because as a long term resident, Ashford’s changes greatly affect my own family’s future.

I am a former Highworth Grammar School and Sixth Form student. I spent my university years at Canterbury Christ Church studying Education,  after which I qualified as a teacher. I taught in local primary education for five years before having my little girl in January this year. 

My family and I live in Kennington on Canterbury Road, with my mother – as my fiancé and I are one of Ashford’s many young families who are trying to save for a mortgage and praying for an opportunity to get onto the housing ladder. 

I love to be out and about (you may see me pushing Freya in her pushchair to town, or Sainsbury’s if I am feeling peckish!), meeting with friends and going to baby groups to meet new people.

Growing up in Singleton, Wye, Great Chart, Woodchurch, Willesborough and now Kennington, I have experienced many different aspects of living in our Borough.

As a younger person, I am excited at the opportunity to participate in the debates about the future of our town that the Ashford Independent Party is creating.  I look forward to speaking up for my generation and fighting to make a difference to the future of the next one.

Little Burton Farm and Conningbrook are increasingly concerned about the proposed housing development on their doorstep, which will no doubt have unwelcome effects on Ashford’s already stretched health care system, schools and road network. 

In addition to this, the ongoing stench issues from the sewage works continues to be reported regularly and is an unpleasant issue that needs addressing. 

If elected, I will work to support all residents in our Ward, conveying the views and concerns of residents of Little Burton and Conningbrook to give them a strong voice in the Council. 

Cllr. Winston Michael

Goat Lees Ward

Resident of Ashford for 43 years and married with 4 children and 6 grandchildren. The proprietor of a leading edge Technology Company for 23 years but now retired.  In senior management for over 40 years delivering quality solutions to address business problems. Became a Councillor in 2011 and elected Mayor of Ashford 2017 – 2018.

I am passionate about helping all young people and those that are disadvantaged regardless of their personal circumstances. In 2017 organised the hugely successful Kent Challenger Games to engage vulnerable and disengaged young people so as to inspire them to overcome misguided pre-conceptions of what they are truly capable of, and by popular demand putting on again in 2019. I am also passionate about helping rough sleepers and the homeless, and during the very cold spell in 2017 instigated action to provide hot food and housing, Ashford being the only authority to do so in Kent. I shall endeavour to be a champion for them because being on the street can happen to any one of us. Getting special needs children at Wyvern School out and about more frequently considerably improves their physical and mental well-being as well as their learning, and it enables them to contribute more to society. So, with 4 young people I jumped out of a plane, raising £40k; using the money on a new bus and a Panna Football Cage which is taken out to deprived areas to have fun and games in the backyards of young people.

I have always shown an interest in community affairs and always give voice against inappropriate proposals. Following my successful campaign to stop an unpopular large scale development is why I became a Borough Councillor. I believe a Councillor should spare no effort to achieve as much as possible on behalf of residents, and standing as an Independent was important because it gave me freedom to act openly for residents and not be forced to follow a Political Part Whip no matter how damaging the matter would be for residents. My hands-on approach, regular communication with residents, being seen in the community and my open-door policy saw me returned in 2015 with a large majority. Residents regularly give me matters to address because they know I respond positively and swiftly to finding an answer. I believe I was elected to serve residents not myself or others, and my can-do attitude and dedication to pursue matters on behalf of a resident for as long as it takes often yields the answer sought.

While local issues are my foremost priority at the same time I am mindful that Borough-wide issues can be of equal concern. I shall continue to fight for sustainable developments, supportive infrastructure, protection for our fantastic countryside, housing affordable to our young people and those trying to get on the property ladder, more diverse and exciting Town Centre, and a halt to the erosion of the character of Ashford. I am for growth providing it makes sense for Ashford and all its residents.

Cllr. Tina Heyes

Kingsnorth Village & Bridgefield

Cllr. Heather Hayward

Roman Ward

I am a mother of four children, all of whom have attended local schools, with her youngest two still at school in the area. Being part of a tight knit community, where I know my neighbour’s, is important to me. I am concerned about the impact of Ashford’s rapid growth, which can be felt throughout Roman Ward. With people talking about the building of the new developments that have been agreed in the Local Plan and expressing doubts that their views will be listened to, I feel the need to stand in this election. I share your concerns, particularly about the knock-on effects of the new developments on local services and infrastructure; schools, health care and the road network and hope to be elected to speak up for local people.

Cllr. Linda Harman

Saxon Shore Ward

I have lived in Aldington for the last 13 years, the longest I have ever lived in one place and I love the countryside and rural living – with all its quirks. 

I am one of the founder members of the Rural Means Rural Campaign that formed to support lobbying of Ashford Borough Council for planning policy change to protect rural landscapes in the Ashford Local Plan 2030.  Our activities helped raise the voices of rural residents across Ashford Borough through our petition, own representation and the professional support we financed for the incumbent Borough Councillor, we raised awareness of concerns about cumulative effects so that the phrase is now commonly used in planning discussions.

Having observed how the Council works through the development of the Local Plan, I have been frustrated by the limits put upon resident contribution to the debates – so am hoping to be elected to be able to participate more fully, representing a residents point of view from within the Council itself. I feel that there is a desperate need for more diversity and a stronger oppositional view in Ashford Borough Council.   It is a Council that has for some time now been dominated by a single national party.  More diversity of views will enable stronger debate about the many initiatives that affect everyone living Ashford Borough.  If elected, I very much hope to be able to make a difference in Ashford Borough Council and to build a very strong relationship with everyone living in the villages in Saxon Shore Ward – because it is my home too.

Cllr. David Ledger

Weald South Ward

I grew up in Kent and, after college, spent most of the 1970’s in Berkshire. I initially took up a career in botanical research but moved for a spell in industry before embarking on a 40 year career in the Environmental Health profession, working within local government. 

I returned to Kent and worked many years at Canterbury City Council and later for two other Borough / District Councils in Kent.

I moved to Shadoxhurst with my Partner and our two dogs six years ago. With retirement looming, I took up being a Funeral Celebrant. My Partner and I both joined Shadoxhurst Parish Council four years ago when there was an application for developing a green field near us. Due to illness, the long time Chairman had to step down from the Council, and for the last three years I have had the honour to be its Chairman. With the help of a great team of Parish Members, we have achieved a lot of tangible successes. These include a weekly drop-in coffee club, increased clubs and activities, fund raising, improvements to the recreation ground and eventually securing a reduction of the speed limit through the village. I also have been preparing and editing the bi-monthly Village Newsletter.

The last three years have also been a pivotal period in Shadoxhurst’s long history. Despite working hard to preserve two vital green fields in the centre of the village, they were eventually lost to housing. A third one has also been lost. Developers are queuing up to build in our village. Standing up for our residents all through the adoption of the new Local Plan has been my priority in these last three years. Even recently, still questioning and challenging one of the key policies that I think will detrimentally affect Shadoxhurst in the coming years, ABC would not budge, and there is a vital need to ensure that rural villages are represented. We have to be persistent and keep reminding those in power we should be heard and properly considered in decision making. 

I also became Vice Chairman of the Ashford Committee of Kent Association of Local Councils. This led to the active formation of two sub-committees on Traffic and Planning issues, which I spearhead. The latter included lobbying the Housing Minister at Westminster in 2017 on behalf of Shadoxhurst residents and the local parishes.

My priority is to ensure that the residents in the four villages of Weald South (Hamstreet, Shadoxhurst, Warehorne and Woodchurch) have a voice and make sure that Ashford Borough Council actually listens. It is time for a change and it is time for ABC to put people first.

Cllr. George Sparks

Weald South Ward

I was born in Tenterden in 1946 and after brief periods in Bilsington and Hothfield moved to Charing in 1948. 

I went to Charing Primary School and Ashford North Modern Secondary School and finally Ashford Technical College.

In 1964 I gained an apprenticeship with Heyman Construction on Cobbs Wood eventually qualifying as a Structural Steelwork Detail Designer. In 1983 I became General Manager of an Ashford based steelwork fabrication company in the old railway works until my retirement in 2010.

I married my wife Rosalind, from Aldington, in 1981 and moved to Hamstreet where we still live. In 1987 I was elected to Orlestone Parish Council and became Chairman in 2007. I retired from Orlington Parish Council in 2017 after 30 years continuous service.

I have lived and worked in the Borough my entire life and can clearly remember Ashford as a thriving rural market town with separate rural villages. Whilst there must always be progress I am standing for election to ABC to try to maintain the rural nature of the Borough. I believe that Orlestone, Shadoxhurst, Woodchurch, and Warehorne need a strong voice – as a resident in the Ward I understand your issues because they are my concerns too.  

Cllr. Noel Ovenden - Party Leader

Wye & Hinxhill

I was born in Challock and attended the Norton Knatchbull School. Our family’s Kent roots trace back to 1572, and several of my relatives live in and around Wye. I am a family man, age 52, and have lived in the parish of Wye since 1992. Together with my brother I run a successful local business employing 25 people.

I want to serve the residents of Wye in preserving all the things that make it such a special place, while improving facilities and the quality of life for residents. As Chairman of Wye with Hinxhill Parish Council I have earned a reputation for hard work, business sense, and an ability to solve problems. With the support of my colleagues I am working with them on current issues, including the Wye 2030 Neighbourhood Plan, Telereal Trillium’s masterplan for WYE3, proposed new housing developments on WYE2, and Naccolt brickworks, Willesborough, J10A Conningbrook, the upgrading of the National Cycle Route 18 through Wye and the Multi-Use Games Area project for Wye’s young people. I am also responsible for keeping the Parish Council within its budget.