Our Candidates

Aylesford & East Stour

Residents in Aylesford & East Stour have two votes. The Ashford Independent Candidates are:

Cllr. David Smith

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.

Andy Rogers

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. 

Bybrook

The Ashford Independent Bybrook Candidate is:

Howard Turner

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.

Goat Lees

The Ashford Independent Goat Lees Candidate is:

Cllr. Winston Michael

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.

Highfield

The Ashford Independent Highfield Candidate is:

Barry Ball

Kennington

The Ashford Independent Kennington Candidate is:

Ian McAllister Anderson

My wife and I have lived in Bethersden for 35 years and have always taken a keen interest in community; I have been a Parish Councillor in Bethersden, which has taught me to effectively engage local government on behalf of the residents.

Standing in the Ashford Borough Council elections is the next step for me.  For some time, I have been concerned about the large-scale developments taking place all around Ashford, many of which we are now committed to in the new Local Plan.  Watching the landscape change, I can clearly see that insufficient attention is paid to the technical aspects such as drainage or managing flood water runoff and potable water supplies, or considering the impact on the adjoining and neighbouring areas is something that is overlooked. 

Water and drainage is my speciality; I have my own Engineering Consultancy Company based in Bethersden that specialises in Irrigation, Drainage and Water Resources. Most of my clients work with governments all around the world.

Water and drainage are key considerations for residents in Kennington, given the developments proposed in and adjoining the ward. I would like to offer my professional understand to help put forward the case for Kennington residents.

Like many people, I have recently found myself rather disillusioned with how things have developed and have chosen with my wife to concentrate more on seeing what can be achieved locally.  In the Ashford Independent we have found  like-minded people with comparable ideals who are not driven by often questionable national politics and decisions. 

Though I am not resident in Kennington, the issues and challenges that face people living here can greatly benefit from the skills and knowledge that I have learnt in our community and from my working life. I am passionate about making a difference for Ashford as a whole and Kennington in particular. The next 4 years will be crucial in holding developers to account as the sites in the Local Plan start to come forward.  We should not build inappropriate and excessive houses without the joined up essential engineering to ensure that they endure and are successful. It is also essential that we retain the beautiful vistas and settings of the unique Kent landscape areas abutting and surrounding the important urban areas such as Kennington Conservation area.

I put resident issues first and foremost. My technical training and experience combine with a practical approach and a can-do attitude – which is fundamental to my thinking. Be sure I will never shirk in tackling thorny issues to get the right result!

Kingsnorth Village & Bridgefield

The Ashford Independent Kingsnorth Village & Bridgefeild Candidate is:

Tina Hayes

Little Burton Farm

The Ashford Independent Little Burton Farm Candidate is:

Katy Ovenden

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. 

Roman

The Ashford Independent Roman Candidate is:

Heather Hayward

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.

Saxon Shore

The Ashford Independent Saxon Shore Candidate is:

Linda Harman

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.

Weald Central

Residents in Weald Central have two votes. The Ashford Independent Candidates are:

Sarah Dacre

I am passionate about this wonderful rural area in Weald Central and want to preserve the unique and special outlook; to protect it from inappropriate and unsustainable development. 

I am not against building houses to meet local needs or supporting popular improvements to the area. However, I believe that the pace and scale of change at the eastern end of this ward will change the landscape character forever. The Chilmington development will increase demand for the services we all require; hospital beds, policing services, school places for children of any age, local jobs, not to mention demand on existing local infrastructure. The A28 which connects each of the villages is already at capacity and unsuitable for its speeding traffic flows.

I would like to see improvements in quality of life for local young people, with proper facilities and opportunities, as well as sufficient medical and community support for the elderly and disabled. We need suitable and affordable homes for local residents not luxury 4/5 bedroom houses with starter prices far in excess of what local wages can support.

Our Council must persuade Kent County Council to press for the construction of the Broad Oak reservoir as a matter of urgency.  Construction will take 3 years and then another 3 years to fill. Water management is going to be very important for the next generation.  Bewl Water has reached maximum capacity and without pumping from the River Medway, it is not unimaginable that our rapidly growing town could see potable water shortages and the need for limiting domestic water use.

I moved to rural Bethersden in 2009 and love the wonderful countryside and village life.  I enjoy gardening and grow wonderful blooms and vegetables. I have been a Parish Councillor since 2015 and ran the Highways function for three of those years achieving a majority result on the TRO 7.5 T Public Consultation; Installation of Village gateways supplied at nil cost to the Parish. I have been a founding member of the Joint Parishes Traffic Committee ensuring that the local villages and unclassified lanes are not ruined by construction traffic from Chilmington with careful monitoring of vulnerable road users, including horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians. Between 2010-2016, I ran the media desk for Keep Chilmington Green and believe passionately in protecting rural areas from unnecessary large scale construction of executive homes in opposition to residents’ wishes.

I work with my partner in a Kent based family business, which was established in the 1970s, to design and seal engrave hand made quality signet rings and cuff links. We cater for a wide range of clients both locally and wider afield. I have the time and flexibility to serve as your elected representative on Ashford Borough Council. I have the know-how, energy, and commitment needed to work positively on your behalf.

As an Ashford Independent since 2010, I believe that national party politics have no place in either local government or local elections. Instead, we all believe that it is important to put local people first.

Matt Peach

I have lived In the Great Chart area for nearly 20 years.  Being born in Kent and spending my teens in rural Lincolnshire, before returning to Kent, gave me a very early lesson about how different and diverse our country is. I have also travelled the world extensively on business and for leisure and seen, first hand, how others resolve similar issues . I am not afraid to take what I believe to be the best ideas! 

Married with four children, two in secondary education and two studying further, I am kept up to date with a younger viewpoint, as well as my own, more mature thoughts, gained from over 30 years running various companies. 

Having had several company director roles, including sales, finance and now managing director of a successful engineering company, I believe I know what matters to our loyal staff and how they deserve to be treated. I believe in gaining and giving trust and respect, to everyone I meet. 

That doesn’t stop me voicing my option when it’s required though! I’m only too happy to get back to my roots and get stuck in when a job needs to get done. I relish the challenges and enjoy being involved in projects from start to finish. Making sure decisions are made and checking they are the right decisions. I’m never afraid to say something needs to change, if it’s wrong. 

I would like to bring all of my knowledge and experience to Ashford Borough Council as your councillor. I would like to help families lives in every area, rural, suburbs and town, more fulfilling; making sure your voice and concerns are heard at the highest; making sure you have the information, so you can be part of the decision making process. And finally; making sure we all feel a community rather than a tax paying public. 

As an Ashford Independent candidate, I have no National political party telling me how to vote or restricting my decisions with the Party Whip. I don’t follow the Westminster  agenda and have the freedom to do what is best for the area and residents in Weald Central. I will work to make sure the area is not flooded with more construction sites and that our amenities in the rural areas are comparable to the more populated areas. I’m a keen supporter of our farms and farmland and want to see it looked after. Nature should be cherished and preserved for the next generation. I hope to see the town centre in Ashford diversified and will work to encourage vitality to thrive.

Your vote will count this election. 

Every single vote will make a real difference, now more than ever.

Weald South

Residents in Weald South have two votes. The Ashford Independent Candidates are:

David Ledger

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 my Partner and I both joined Shadoxhurst Parish Council four years ago, when there was an application to develop on a green field near to 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 of being it’s Chairman. With the help of a great team of Parish Members, we have lobbied Ashford Borough Council throughout the development of the now adopted Local Plan. We achieved a lot of tangible successes as a Parish Council, both in terms of raising awareness of resident’s feelings at Borough Council and building a stonier community in Shadoxhurst. We started a weekly drop-in coffee club, increased clubs and activities the village, raised funds for improvements to the recreation ground and eventually even securing a reduction of the speed limit through the village. I also have been preparing and editing the bi-monthly Village Newsletter

I am ready to provide credible opposition in Ashford Borough Council – to challenge, scrutinise and set an alternative agenda that is about the people who live in our villages; every age group, dynamic and lifestyle.

George Sparks

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.  

Wye & Hinxhill

The Ashford Independent Wye & Hinxhill Candidate is:

Cllr. Noel Ovenden

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.