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Party description: Liberal Democrat Party candidate
In conversation with Pat Driver.
In these adversarial times, passions can run high when it comes to local politics. Debates become heated and the comments threads no place for people of a sensitive disposition. All of this made me wonder why anybody puts themselves forward for civic roles and, more to the point, why is my friend Kate Lamb standing for Eastern Rother?
Tell me about it, Kate.
It’s not a moment of madness, honestly. I’ve come to realise how fragile is our democracy and to lose it would be disastrous. People often tell me that they don’t vote because it doesn’t affect them or because they don’t like the candidates. And that’s fine, it’s their right. But if you use a road, need help to care for somebody else, detest litter and potholes, have school-age children or worry about the climate emergency, then you are affected and you deserve a say.
I realised that if I did not stand up now there would not be a candidate who lives in Eastern Rother or even one standing in any sort of opposition to a presumed winning party. I want to offer choice. The austerity cuts to essential funding have not served us well in the current crisis. Of course balancing the books is important but I want to highlight the equal value of a good quality of life for every local person.
There are so many seemingly intractable long-term issues here. How can you improve matters and where do you start?
It won’t be easy: we need imaginative new ideas and a more collaborative mentality among local representatives. Many of the issues straddle multiple government authorities and agencies. So somehow a coordinated approach has to be found. There’s no quick fix. I’m impressed by the start made by Rother Alliance, on climate and access to the planning process for example. I’d need to engage with them very quickly to be active in dealing with all the challenges that we’ve endured here for so long.
The sun’s out and so People Will Come. How can we navigate the effects of mass tourism?
I know. Remember I’ll be bringing the cups of tea out to the police officers attempting to stop that right turn to the beach! It’s the biggest balancing act isn’t it? We want the area to benefit from tourism but we don’t want to have to spend more than that income on dealing with the mess, whether it’s litter, noise, or traffic fumes. It’s easy to say and hard to do. Get an effective management strategy, offer the best possible visitor experience, creating jobs as you go, and bring in more revenue than you spend. I know plans are in place to avoid the mayhem of last summer but I want to see a robust strategy that looks well ahead, not just responding when the worst happens.
I haven’t asked about road safety, parking, affordable housing and now the word count is stacking up. So, one last question. You do know you have a hard act to follow, don’t you?
Sally Ann was very good at attending parish council meetings and was a recognisable presence. Would I do it differently? Well, I’d be out and about too but I’d hold myself accountable for translating meetings and local perspectives into actions. Problems become long term because doing (or not doing) the same things over and over can’t lead to change. In East Guldeford our biggest issue is road safety and it dominates the history and culture of our village. While Sally Ann empathised with the issues, no tangible actions were ever forthcoming. So I guess part of my platform is “not the same as before”.
Kate Lamb is standing as the Lib Dem candidate in the Eastern Rother by-election on May 6. More details about her campaign are here.
Image Credits: Kate Lamb .