Fringe Box



Confident New Party R4GV Tackle a Tory Stronghold

Published on: 11 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 14 Apr, 2019

The Guildford Dragon NEWS continues reporting on how candidates and party supporters are canvassing potential voters for the council election on May 2, 2019. All of the parties represented on the council have been invited to participate.

In this article, we were with R4GV (Residents For Guildford and Villages) as they campaigned in the Christchurch ward

By Hugh Coakley

Meeting the R4GV team outside the Pitt Farm Tennis Club somehow set the scene. With its nice houses and wide, clean streets, this is not an inner city or a deprived ward.

Conservatives have won both seats in the Christchurch ward since 2007. So, for the new kids on the block to challenge Christchurch has got to be a long shot, you would think.

The R4GV team meet outside the Pitt Farm Tennis Club. Joss Bigmore, who is standing in the Christchurch ward, being helped by John Rigg, adjusting his R4GV rosette, and John Redpath with Ivy, the very well-behaved canine supporter.

Joss Bigmore, one of the two R4GV candidates standing there, doesn’t agree. “Christchurch is so Tory that they don’t bother to canvass here,” Joss said.

Joss Bigmore canvassing in the Christchurch ward for the Guildford elections.

“And if you want the crown,” he added, “you have to challenge the king.” He is referring to Matt Furniss, deputy leader of Guildford council, who won his Christchurch seat aged just 19 in the 2007 elections.

Joss said he ran out of reasons not to stand. “You can’t keep criticising without doing something,” he said.

He is 42, with a driving personality, constantly checking with the other canvassers that all the houses have been covered and moving the team forward.

And it has been tough. “We started from scratch here as an organisation,” he said. “We’ve had to do everything from zero.” That involved enlisting candidates and volunteers to leafletting and funding.

Their approach to the funding is certainly showing commitment, with candidates asked to put £200 to £250 in the campaign kitty if they can afford it. Other funds are coming from crowd-sourcing and private donations.

John Rigg helping with the R4GV campaign in the Christchurch ward.John Rigg, a chartered surveyor and a founder member of the Guildford Vision Group, was very upbeat about the canvassing. “I haven’t had a bad reception from anyone yet,” he said.

John Rigg says he is standing because he sees that the lack of a masterplan badly affects the town. “Why is Guildford the worst place in Surrey for accidents and pollution?

“When we tried to discuss a masterplan with the council, their attitude was, ‘You are not elected, therefore why are you getting involved’.”

John said the best about canvassing is the “reception we are getting, but we also have to walk up some very steep hills in Guildford. It’s making me fitter though”.

John Redpath door knocking in the Christchurch ward with his dog, Ivy.

John Redpath is the most relaxed member of the team out canvassing. He said he hadn’t wanted to be a candidate “but I felt I had to. It’s certainly livened me up”.

His daughter, Maddy, is also standing. “She was getting so incensed at what she saw happening on the council”, John said, that she also felt obliged to put herself forward. “She’s been a real boost to the team especially with the social media.”

John said that he thought his chances of being elected in Holy Trinity were “pretty good but we are fighting against a very well-organised political machine. And it’s not even the local boys who know what they are doing but the party machine.

“We’ve had an incredible amount of work to do. I haven’t had a minute off for the past six weeks but the best thing is the support we’re getting.”

Volunteer, Liz Hyland, is one of the more than 120 R4GV volunteers working towards the council elections on May 2.

Volunteer, Liz Hyland, was helping the team even though she had been out at Clandon Station at 6.30am that morning catching the morning commuters. She said: “I’m not standing myself because I’m not patient enough. I would end up ejected from the council chamber if I was a councillor.”

Liz has been helping with the administration as well. “We’re in the process of leafletting every house in the 11 wards that we are contesting, that’s more than 50,000 leaflets,” she said.

Liz said that the success of R4GV would depend on “the bravery of the electorate” on the day.

The best bits for her have been the positive comments that R4GV has been getting.

The worst has been, “the letterboxes that eat your hand. I now have a technique to guard my knuckles”. she said.

I left after about an hour of knocking on doors with the doughty campaigners heading off for another meeting that evening.

Commitment indeed.

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test One Response to Confident New Party R4GV Tackle a Tory Stronghold

  1. Andy White Reply

    April 15, 2019 at 9:45 am

    I hope they all win. We need a change in how Guildford is run.

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