Victorious Wooburn, Bourne End and Hedsor independents 'humbled'

Victorious Wooburn, Bourne End and Hedsor independents 'humbled'

L to R: Penny Drayton, Stuart Wilson and Sophie Kayani, who have all been elected as councillors to represent Wooburn, Bourne End and Hedsor on the new Bucks Council

The Wooburns, Bourne End and Hedsor will be represented by a full house of independent councillors who have expressed their delight after fighting off the Tories to secure a huge election win last week. 

Penny Drayton, Stuart Wilson and Sophie Kayani fought off competition from Conservative councillors, on what is normally a safe blue seat, at the elections for the new Buckinghamshire Council on Thursday.

With a combined 5,285 votes between them - compared with the Tories' 3,218 - the trio picked up more than half (54 per cent) of the overall votes in the ward.

This bucked the trend compared with the rest of the council, where the Conservatives held seats and kept a firm grip on the authority. Three Tory councillors each were elected to serve the Cliveden and Marlow wards. 

But Stuart said that he was pleased the people of Wooburn, Bourne End and Hedsor put their faith in him and his colleagues, and highlighted some particular areas he is looking forward to covering as a new councillor. 

"The gratifying thing is the response from the community," he said. "That sense of people saying: 'you know what, I really feel I have got something to vote for', as opposed to something to vote against, or not to vote at all.

"Anything that gets people out to vote and being able to use what generations before us worked hard for, has got to be great news."

Stuart and Penny are both part of the Keep Bourne End Green campaign group, which has opposed some large developments in the village, most notably plans for more than 400 homes at Hollands Farm, and nearby Jackson's Field.

A new Buckinghamshire Council local plan will be created following the election of the councillors, and Stuart said he is looking forward to being able to shape this plan as a council representative. 

The existing plan for the area - the Wycombe District Local Plan - was adopted in August 2019. 

He added: "If you ask people in the area, what is the single biggest issue that concerns you, the number one by a country mile is protecting the greenbelt. 

"That has to be our number one priority - not because we are against housing, but because we are against plans that have been put forward which are excessive and do not reflect the housing need in the area.

"From my view, being able to shape that Bucks local plan as an independent for our area in ways that it was not shaped in the Wycombe plan, has to be a significant priority."

Stuart added that other issues he would want to tackle are the environment, and maintaining community assets for future generations, such as the Wooburn Club.

Penny said that she was 'excited' to get going as a new councillor and was 'looking forward' to taking on the role. 

"The whole reason behind us standing, myself particularly, is just wanting to be a voice for the community and residents," she said.

"Just wanting to stand up and be able to do something. And now we have got the opportunity. I am very excited and looking forward to taking it on.

"We just have not been heard previously. It is very important in local politics to have independence.

"We have got to be realistic - we have taken three seats in a ward at the bottom of the county. But we want to get in and just provide a more varied representation."

Penny added that she also wanted to focus on shaping 'sensible' developments in the ward.

"It is not just about development on the greenbelt, it is about having sensible development altogether," she said. "We want to push for brownfield sites to be used over greenbelt. It is the biggest issue in the area at the moment."

Sophie Kayani, who also works in communications at Bourne End Academy, said that while she would support Penny and Stuart's development priorities, hers were more focused on what the Bucks Council could offer young people. 

She is also the chair of the Dyspraxia Foundation, a role she is due to step down from in August. 

"I feel humbled and privileged, and also excited," Sophie said of her election. "I am just looking forward to getting stuck in and to bring in that voice of our community. That is what I stood for and that is what I will do.

"We need to look at what we are offering our young people. We can't just have the focus on education. They have missed out on all sorts of experiences at a critical time of their lives."

Sophie added that she wanted to 'broaden young people's experiences' by offering more opportunities for them, and making these more visible to young people and their parents. 

"There are lots I think I can bring to the table in terms of potential strategies. I am really good at finding solutions at low cost," she said. 

Sophie also cited roads and highways, and parking, as two other areas she would be looking to tackle in her role as councillor. 

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