A new political group, the Brighton and Hove Independents, plans to field nine candidates at the local council elections in May.
The new group, set up by Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, aims to take seats in eight council wards, with all candidates living in the wards that they hope to represent.
As a recognised party, registered with the Electoral Commission, the independents hope to secure membership of Brighton and Hove City Council policy-making committees if enough are elected.
Councillor Fishleigh, who is running again in the new two-seat Rottingdean and West Saltdean ward, said that the group was free of national party politics.
It was, she said, made up of people who had lived and worked in Brighton and Hove for years and were involved with their communities.
“Our goal is to improve the running of Brighton and Hove through the election of candidates with the life and work experiences needed to manage our city.
“Unshackled from national party politics, we will work together – and with any party councillor willing to join forces – to put our city first.”
Councillor Fishleigh is an international business consultant and former Saltdean Residents’ Association chair. She spent six years working to save Saltdean Lido, raising £3 million.
Also standing in Rottingdean and West Saltdean is Mark Earthey, a consultant who specialises in sustainable energy and was recently appointed to the Bank of England decision-makers panel.
Dr Earthey is also a member of both the Saltdean and Rottingdean Climate Action Networks and the A259 Action Group.
“Brighton faces real challenges, both local and global, that cannot be addressed by a single-track dogmatic ideology. Now is the time to take a diverse approach to policy-making based on evidence and fact.
“Having lived in the city since 1991, I can bring 30 years of experience in both the private and public sectors advising large corporations and community energy schemes.”
Standing in Regency ward is Gary Farmer, managing director of a language school in Brighton and founder of the Old Steine Community Association.
Mr Farmer was born and raised in Brighton and has regularly voiced his concerns about vandalism and the poor infrastructure around Old Steine.
“Growing up and living in Brighton, I’ve watched the city decline as successive administrations have abandoned commonsense, accountability and responsibility, often putting party loyalties ahead of the needs of our beloved city. Now is the time for a change.”
“Over the past three years, Bridget has shown that independent councillors make a real difference in the area they represent, putting the needs of residents first.
“From running a food bank to leading on regeneration projects to planting trees to securing improvements to local infrastructure, Bridget leads by example.”
Alan Towler, the chef and co-owner of the Bristol Bar, is standing in the new Kemptown ward, having lived and worked in the area for 23 years. He is also a member of the Madeira Terraces Advisory Panel.
Mr Towler said:
“Like many people, I have been frustrated with how long the council has taken to get a grip on the Madeira Terraces situation. Too many meetings, too many consultants and too little action.
“It’s no surprise that the city is in a state, given the inability of the current crop of councillors to make a decision. I am ready to stand up for the city that I love. It’s time for a change.”
In Patcham and Hollingbury ward, Paul Denyer, who born and raised in Brighton, is standing for the group. He said:
“As a well-known local business owner and life-long Brightonian, I feel wholeheartedly that the incumbent administration and their predecessors have consistently let the people of our city down.
“Like so many others, I’ve become disheartened by the decline of Brighton and Hove’s infrastructure and I am truly passionate about working to improve services and restore Brighton and Hove’s unique heritage for the people who live here.”
Painter and decorator Bev Barstow plans to stand in Hanover and Elm Grove. She is a former lawyer and has lived in the area for 29 years.
She was part of the Stop the LTN (low-traffic neighbourhood) pressure group and has also campaigned for chevron parking along Elm Grove. She said:
“The prospect of a low-traffic neighbourhood in Hanover and Tarner is still alive.
“My election as a Brighton and Hove Independent would send a message that we don’t want this – as well as giving residents a strong voice on other local issues.
“There are many issues in Hanover and Elm Grove that both Green and Labour councillors have done very little about for decades. Any funding for an LTN should be spent on addressing these instead.”
Tech company boss Linda Elisha is standing in Goldsmid ward and lives near Hove Recreation Ground. She is a trustee of Possability People and was previously a volunteer advocate at the charity.
“Residents deserve to be heard and our opinions should carry significant weight when it comes to designing our city.
“True, the council has a tough job managing its budget but is it really operating in the best interests of its residents or is party-led ideology driving its spending policies?”
Palmeira Square flower seller Chris Woodley is standing in Brunswick and Adelaide. He said:
“From recycling, potholes in the roads, footpaths overgrown with weeds, they have failed, failed and failed again to get a grip with the rudimentary tasks of running our city.
“They are responsible for the financial disaster which is the i360 and I’ve had enough of their mad schemes. My business acumen and commonsense would help bring sanity back to Hove Town Hall.”
Queen’s Park candidate Adrian Hart is a member of the Amex Area Neighbourhood Action Forum and works as a community filmmaker.
“At the last local elections, you could pin a green or a red rosette on a complete stranger and they’d win.
“They might be unknown to residents, live elsewhere, say absolutely nothing other than the talking points their party gives them and it wouldn’t matter.
“But there’s a new mood today – disaffection with the way the parties run this city is at an all-time high. Independent councillors make sense to people.”
The Brighton and Hove Independents group has a Facebook page, BH Independents, and a Twitter account @BHIndies.
The election is on Thursday 4 May and is the first where photo ID is required to vote in person.
Of the three main political parties, only Labour has so far managed to select and announced candidates for all 54 seats in the 23 wards – up from 21 after a boundary review.
PICTURED: clockwise from top left: Adrian Hart Brighton and Hove Independents Queen's Park; Bev Barstow Brighton and Hove Independents Hanover and Elm Grove; Gary Farmer Brighton and Hove Independents Regency; Bridget Fishleigh Brighton and Hove Independents Rottingdean and Saltdean; Alan Towler Brighton and Hove Independents Kemptown Candidate; Paul Denyer Brighton and Hove Independents Patcham and Hollingbury; Mark Earthey Brighton and Hove Independents Rottingdean & Saltdean.
Middle: Chris Woodley Brighton and Hove Independents Brunswick and Adelaide