THERE’S less than a month to go before people go to the polls in the local elections – and it has been revealed that several prominent political figures have decided to call it a day.
The list of the candidates who will be standing in the 21 wards up for grabs, has been revealed – and it has emerged that four prominent candidates will not be standing for re-election.
Former borough council leaders Councillor Andrew Finney and Cllr Brian Gurden, current cabinet member for environment and climate change Cllr Robert Donnell, and development control committee chairman Cllr Horace Mitchell have all announced they will not stand in the elections on May 22.
Conservative Cllr Finney, who represents Oakley and North Waltham, told The Gazette that he is standing down to concentrate on his work as managing director of Basing View-based relocation firm HCR, chairman of The Anvil Trust, and president of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.
He also plans to spend more time with his wife Lorraine and “scrape the dust off of his golf clubs”.
The 62-year-old, who led the borough council between 2008 and 2012, and was instrumental in setting up the Local Enterprise Partnership Enterprise M3, said: “It was a great honour to be the leader of the council, but more importantly it was good to be part of a very successful Conservative administration that has delivered financial stability to Basingstoke at a time when other councils face serious challenges.”
Cllr Gurden, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Brighton Hill South, has served on the council since 1994.
The 75-year-old grandfather-of-two, who served as Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane in 2009-10 and was leader of the borough council in 2002-03, said: “I was round at the right time, and I think now is the right time for younger people (to join the council). I also want to spend more time with my grandchildren.”
However, Cllr Gurden is not quitting politics altogether, and will remain a county councillor for the Basingstoke South East ward.
Another Conservative stalwart taking a step back is Cllr Mitchell, who has been a councillor for 10 years. The former cabinet member for planning and transport and current councillor for Burghclere, Highclere and St Mary Bourne wants to spend more time with his grandchildren and wife, Diana.
He said: “Being chairman of the development control committee is a highlight because that is the point which you make real decisions about real people. I am 73 and if I serve for another four years I will be 77 and I think it is time to go. I personally don’t believe councillors should serve until we die.”
A new environment chief will also need to be found by the Conservative administration – if they retain control – after Cllr Donnell decided to step down as a borough councillor for Winklebury.
The move follows recent comments made by the Tory councillor in which he said Winklebury residents had “lost confidence” in the borough council over the handling of the Manydown development.
Cllr Donnell has been the environment chief at the borough council since 2012, and in his short tenure, he has been faced with trying to improve a lacklustre borough recycling rate and has introduced Tetra Pak and hard plastic recycling. The Gazette has not been able to contact Cllr Donnell this week.