Plan for Norfolk independents party to engage the electorate

A new Norfolk councillor is hoping to form a party of independent councillors to make councils within the county more open and accountable to the electorate.

Andy Gardiner, who represents Rustens ward on Wymondham Town Council, is hoping to bring together people willing to become councillors, especially in the younger 15 to 23-year-old age group, to fight elections across the county.

Mr Gardiner, who became a councillor in May after polling 73pc of the vote compared to challenger Len Elston's 27pc, said he was concerned party politics was preventing councillors from consulting properly with the public on matters of public interest, such as planning developments.

He feared too many councillors were voting along party lines rather than making their own views heard. He said: 'Years ago we elected councillors to serve us, but it seems that recently this public service ethic seems to be disappearing and we seem to be getting more career politicians.'

He said the party would be mainly Wymondham based in the initial stages, but he hopes to expand and recruit potential councillors from across the county who shared his vision of a more open and accountable local democracy.

Mr Gardiner became interested in politics through his involvement with the Wymondham Asks Why campaign group, which successfully fought Wymondham Town Council's plans to sell the town's King's Head Meadow for a new Asda store. The WAW group was opposed to the use of the meadow for a supermarket because the land was home to a children's play area and public recreation facilities, as well as being Wymondham Town FC's home ground.

In return for using the land for a supermarket, Asda planned to fund a new ground for the football club at nearby Ketts Park, but the council dropped the plans to sell the land at a meeting in February following a public outcry.

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However, Mr Gardiner said his plan to set up the independents party was not related to the King's Head Meadow saga and he wanted councils across Norfolk to be more accountable.

He will outline his vision for the independents party at a meeting at the United Reformed Church in Wymondham on July 14.

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