Meet the Darwell ward by-election candidates

Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160623-112311001
Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160623-112311001

All the main political parties are contesting the by-election in Darwell ward for Rother District Council on Thursday (October 27).

The election was triggered by Emily Rowlinson’s resignation on May 3.

East Sussex County Councillor John Barnes SUS-161020-115619001

East Sussex County Councillor John Barnes SUS-161020-115619001

Candidates have been put forward by the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Greens for Darwell ward, which covers Brightling, Burwash, Burwash Weald, Dallington, Netherfield, Mountfield and Whatlington.

Nominees include a county councillor, parish councillors and a hospice nurse for the second by-election in the ward in two years.

John Barnes (Con)

Conservative candidate John Barnes wants to provide more affordable housing for young people and get behind neighbourhood plans.

Antonia Berelson SUS-161020-115541001

Antonia Berelson SUS-161020-115541001

Mr Barnes, of Sheepstreet Lane, Burwash, represents parts of Darwell ward on East Sussex County Council and brings 40 years experience in representing his community.

The former university lecturer was first elected to that council in 1997, but in all he brings to this election 40 years experience in representing his local community, having served four terms as a Kent County Councillor, and before that serving as an Alderman on Greenwich Borough Council.

Mr Barnes is also a member of the Fire Authority and has helped ensure that, despite austerity, not a single fire station has been closed .

In this election he stands as a lover of the High Weald, who is anxious to protect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Mary Varrall SUS-161020-115553001

Mary Varrall SUS-161020-115553001

As a member of the Safer Rother Partnership, he has argued that speeding traffic should be its top priority.

If elected, he wants to find a solution for the Old Rectory Court in Burwash.

Antonia Berelson (Lab)

Hospice nurse Antonia Berelson will be fighting for the NHS if she wins the Darwell by-election for a seat on Rother District Council.

Andrew Wedmore SUS-161020-115606001

Andrew Wedmore SUS-161020-115606001

The 40-year-old mother of three plans to campaign strongly against ‘the creeping privatisation’ of the NHS as well as issues close to the hearts of the electorate.

Antonia, who works at St Michael’s Hospice and lives in Battle, said: “I am extremely worried about the future of the NHS. Everything is slowly being privatised. Patients can see what is happening and staff are slowly being stretched more and more and being put under extra strain.

“The NHS is being deliberately under-resourced by this government and I feel it is my duty to protest about what is going on.”

Antonia joined the Labour Party after the 2015 General Election as she felt ‘so depressed at the result that I just had to do something’.

She says residents in the ward have contacted her with their concerns, including poor public transport, a lack of local amenities, the high cost of rented accommodation and little council house provision.

Edward Smith (UKIP)

UKIP was contacted but no details about Edward Smith, of Beechwood Close, Burwash, were provided before the Observer went to press.

Mary Varrall (LD)

Mary Varrall is the ‘local choice to give a loud voice‘ to Darwell at Rother. She does not have to follow a party whip and so is free to stand up for Darwell and to vote for Darwell residents.

Mary has lived in Burwash parish for over 30 years and for nearly 20 years was an active parish councillor and chairman in neighbouring Etchingham.

She has worked hard for her local community and delivered tangible results.

She has been instrumental in many of the improvements in Etchingham, playing a leading part in securing its outstanding new school and village hall and play equipment provision, as well as the very successful bistro and helping to save the village shop. Mary has been a school governor, chaired the playgroup, and stood as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in 2005 and 2010.

A successful garden designer, Mary is passionate about the countryside, and being self-employed understands the need to balance rural businesses and jobs with protecting the environment.

Andrew Wedmore (Green)
Andrew Wedmore has been a member of Brightling Parish Council since 2011 and in May, 2013, he became chairman.

As chairman he has pushed for faster progress on bringing high-speed broadband internet access to the area, for better maintenance of local roads, and for the protection of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural beauty.

He has a 100 per cent attendance record at parish council meetings.

Mr Wedmore is a founding member of the Darwell Area Conservation Society, which seeks the protection and enhancement of the locality of the Darwell reservoir.

He was also a leading campaigner in the fight to stop a waste incinerator being built at Mountfield, and he is treasurer of the Green Party’s Rother branch.

Mr Wedmore has lived in the area for 34 years and his children were educated at local schools.

As district council representative, he promises to strongly oppose fracking, seek to protect and promote the interests of the local community, its traditions, and the environment.

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