BLACKDOWN & Tatworth is a newly formed ward for South Somerset District Council, recently created by the Boundary Commission.

Previously, one district councillor represented a Blackdown ward, Cllr Martin Wale, and one councillor held an SSDC seat for Tatworth and Forton, Cllr Andrew Turpin.

Now, the two wards have been joined, but there will still be two representatives.

Villages covered by this new area include Combe St Nicholas, Buckland St Mary, Whitestaunton, Wadeford, Howley, Wambrook, Forton, Tatworth and South Chard.

There are five candidates standing for the two seats.

There have been no changes to the wards at a parish council level. Residents will be able to vote for the outcome of that election on the same day, May 2.

Opinions given below are those of the candidate or their party.

Neil Arnold, UKIP

Neil Arnold as a UKIP member is standing for the Blackdown and Tatworth ward in the forthcoming SSDC elections in May 2019.

Neil said: “I am gratified that the residents of Buckland St Mary who nominated me have faith in me representing our community.

“We live in uncertain times, both at local and national levels of government.

“New faces are needed to make decisions happen and achieve the true potential of our country.”

A well-known contributor to local publications, Neil was a borough councillor before moving to Somerset.

He stood up for the community, has chaired council committees and spoken at public enquiries.

As the Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator for our area, Neil is well aware of the issues facing our community regarding policing, and is quick to respond and distribute updates locally.

Neil and his wife Kathy are aware of the acute social issues caused by over 10 years of Tory austerity.

We see the fallout of this as volunteers at a local Foodbank.

As a local business owner, when not attending to commercial matters, Neil is often found in his garden, looking after his bees and hens, or getting involved in environmental issues.

Jenny Kenton, Liberal Democrat

I have been a councillor for eleven years in Chard and live in the rural area right next to the new ward of Blackdown and Tatworth.

When selecting a ward to stand in this time I chose this new ward because it reflects where I live and I believe I have skills that will benefit the area.

I live within a mile of Forton, my grandmother and Uncle lived in Loveridge Lane when I was a child so I am familiar with the village.

My husband and I were part of the team to take over the Haymaker in Wadeford two years ago.

We revitalised a flagging rural business before retiring in August, so I have links with both of the old wards.

I am hardworking and enthusiastic and look forward to the new challenge of working with a non Lib Dem councillor to represent this new ward if elected.

Andrew Turpin, Indepedent

I will continue to listen to residents’ concerns, anxieties, problems and ideas.

I am passionate about protecting our environment both locally and globally and will continue to support the district council’s policy of providing electricity storage.

I will continue my campaigning for improved local public transport for the people of Chard and district.

This must include our local bus services and the the re-opening of our local station at Chard Junction.

I consider the district council’s role in promoting public health to be invaluable.

That will be my ongoing aim, particularly through cycling if possible and walking.

I will continue to campaign for the completion of our Coast to Coast Cycle / Walk Way - the Stop Line Way.

I will campaign to safeguard the wellbeing of our footpaths.

I would like the district council to look at how councillors travel to and from some meetings could be reduced for example by video conferencing and car sharing, reducing CO2 emissions and expense.

Gemma Verdon, Conservative

Gemma Verdon is standing for election in the Blackdown and Tatworth Ward.

The two District Wards of Blackdown, and Tatworth and Forton have been combined, but will retain two councillors to represent the residents.

The Blackdown and Tatworth team are Martin Wale and Gemma Verdon.

Martin, is the District Councillor for Blackdown, and Gemma is the County Councillor for Tatworth and Forton.
If elected, the main aims are to:

Keep Council Tax low

Ensure local housing developments meet the needs of our community

Highlight the need for increased local police presence to deal with rural crime

Campaigning for a period of free parking to support our high street economy

Expanding the kerbside waste collections to include more recyclables

Supporting the initiative for improved leisure facilities

Gemma and Martin speak with one voice on all council matters.

Martin Wale, Conservative

Martin Wale currently the District Councillor for Blackdown having previously been a District/Town Councillor and Mayor of Chard.

Martin said: “ I live in Wadeford, central for this new ward. During my time as a Councillor I have gained knowledge and experience of the problems facing Blackdown and Tatworth especially in relation to new housing.

“I am delighted to be teamed with Gemma Verdon, county councillor for the Tatworth area, as a joint approach is essential for this large and varied ward.”

We have the same aims:

Ensure housing developments meet the needs of our community

Highlight the need for increased Police to deal with rural crime

Campaign for a period of free parking to support high streets

Expand kerbside waste collections to include more recyclables

Continue to support initiatives for improved leisure facilities

Please elect Martin and Gemma as your District Council team for Blackdown and Tatworth.