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Dragon Interview: Hannah Thompson – Lib Dem Candidate in the Stoke By-election

Published on: 17 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 18 Apr, 2016

Hannah Thompson is the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Guildford Borough Council by-election, to be held in Stoke ward on Thursday May 5th, following the resignation of William Chesterfield.

The by-election is a three-way contest between the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour. Each of the three candidates have been posed the same set of questions. We are publishing interviews with all three candidates.

Hannah Thompson

Hannah Thompson Lib Dem candidate for Stoke ward on May 7.

How long have you been a member of your party, what motivated you to join and why did you decide to stand at this by-election?

I’ve been a member of the Lib Dems for about six years now. I grew up in Ceredigion and was motivated to join by seeing how hard our local Lib Dem MP worked for the community, and the positive effect the Lib Dems had locally. I stood for Council in Stoke last year, and I’m standing again because I love the area and I know I won’t be an absent councillor if elected – I’ll work hard for Stoke.

What skills and experience would you be able to offer as a borough councillor?

I’ve worked alongside MPs and councillors to support residents. Regularly dealing with sensitive issues, I understand the importance of helping people through issues in a communicative and compassionate way, I also understand council processes.  When I was 21, I ran a successful campaign to change the law – which shows I am quite determined. I’m younger than a lot of councillors, and believe I could offer fresh perspective and add diversity to the council.

Do you live in Stoke ward? If elected, what are the main problems within the ward that you would want to address?

I don’t live in Stoke ward, but lodge close by in the town. I’ve been helping residents sort out issues with untidy streets and unmaintained council housing – if elected, I’d like to continue helping with these issues. I think it’s important for people to feel proud and happy of where they live. SARP [Slyfield Area Regeneration Plan] and Clay Lane link road are major issues within the ward, if elected I want to be active on both projects – working with the community and council to make sure the end result is beneficial to the community, and not just pushed on them.

Do you agree that giving up 1.6% of the green belt around Guildford for housing, as proposed in the revised Local Plan, is the right thing to do?

LibDems logoGuildford has serious issues with housing and something has to be done. We need more social and affordable housing, although not many can afford what’s supposed to be “affordable”. We need a proportionate Local Plan giving new homes where they’re needed and of the size needed. The government is threatening to impose housing on us without a viable Local Plan, I worry the right infrastructure improvements won’t be taken if central government is deciding detail.

Do you think that the target housing number given in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment of 693 per annum is desirable and achievable and do you agree with those that say Guildford needs to grow or it will die?

Genuinely affordable housing is important, and people should have the opportunity to buy homes and raise families in Guildford without feeling forced out of the town. The number in the SHMA [Strategic Housing Market Assessment] can be challenged when the council have their Infrastructure Study results – which will show where homes can be built and have the transport, schools, doctor’s surgeries and community facilities to support them. If we don’t have the infrastructure support for developments we can show they aren’t feasible. Guildford does need to grow, but in a measured and controlled way.

Guildford is an affluent town but with some areas of deprivation. What more should and can be done to help those who are less well off?

This term has been used about Stoke, and I find the definition “areas of deprivation” insulting. I know it’s used in planning speak, but it has very negative connotations. The people living in Stoke may not be as wealthy as other areas of Guildford, but it doesn’t mean everyone is deprived. Some people in the area do need help of one sort or another, but we have a very strong and supportive community in Stoke.

What are the good things about Guildford, and about living here, that should be encouraged and maintained?

I moved out from London to Guildford three years ago, and love how beautiful and historic it is here, it’s also such a lovely and relaxed pace. There’s a really great community identity, which is something you don’t really get in London. I think it’s really important to encourage and maintain that.

Are you sure that you have the time to give to be an effective ward councillor? What work commitments do you have?

I am currently working freelance from home, so have the time to be an effective ward councillor. If elected, any job I take in the future would have to fit around my commitments as a councillor.

Are you a Guildford Dragon NEWS reader?

I am indeed.

See also: Dragon Interview: Barry Keane – Conservative candidate and James Walsh – Labour candidate, in the Stoke By-election.

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Responses to Dragon Interview: Hannah Thompson – Lib Dem Candidate in the Stoke By-election

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    April 17, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Again a prospective councillor who simply has not got a grasp of the facts in respect of the Clay Lane link road and SARP. What will it take for people to understand?

    The A320 has less traffic on it that Clay Lane? There is no knowledge of where traffic which uses Slyfield actual originates from. The logical entrance to this alleged “out of use” brownfield site is at Bellfields roundabout within 100 yards of the main arterial route, the A3. It is irrational to dam the flood plain and travel over two miles or more if the four way is introduced north of Burpham to get onto the main arterial route.

    It is also totally irrational to build 1,000 houses at this location and expect Waterside Road to take the 2,000 cars, as currently proposed and to build a road without knowing where the traffic is going to.

    It is time SARP in its current format was binned and some rational thought process applied. Same old, same old simply does not cut it when the problem is looked at in a rational practical manner. Over 12 years without progress should pose the question – is this idea sensible?

  2. George Potter Reply

    April 19, 2016 at 10:32 am

    And again Mr Allen persists in calling a road a dam.

    Just like any other road crossing a floodplain, it is likely to be built in such a way as to allow water to flow under it.

    Personally I’d be lot more sympathetic to people opposing the Link Road if they didn’t keep on coming out with this claim about it being a dam.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 20, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      The open flow of this bourne is 150 metres wide by 0.75 meters deep. This would mean a road and roundabout on stilts to allow the potential flooding to escape.

      The current proposal (now redacted) was to raise the road level by 3 metres to 30.5 metres above sea level with ‘scrapes’ to allow for this dam – failing to acknowledge it is a bourne not a box canyon. So this 3 metre high ‘dam’ (embankment) would cause a flow back to the Wey Navigation to Bowers Lock which sits at 30.25 above sea level.

      While the politicians seem to think a 3 metre embankment is not a dam but merely a raised road – as an engineer any thing which restricts a flow be it air water or mud – is a dam.

      The politicians and planners keep saying it is “only an engineering problem” well perhaps it is time they listened to the engineers?

      Anyone doubting the above can check 1902 then the 1930’s history of the river. Then perhaps the late 60s and 2013 to see how much of the flood plain has been lost and the effect it has had. The 1920s map clearly states “liable to flooding”. Perhaps that should tell us something.

      • Keith Reeves Reply

        April 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm

        Notwithstanding the merits of the road it is noteworthy that the council have consulted with the Environment Agency (EA).

        If the latter shared mr Allen’s concerns regarding flooding they would have opposed the proposals from the off. Published studies from the council using their consultant’s work certainly appear to follow current understanding of flood management.

        I would certainly take the expertise of professional engineers in the relevant field and the EA regarding flood plain compensation and avoidance of impeding flood flows seriously, so I’m with Mr Potter.

        • Jim Allen Reply

          April 22, 2016 at 9:51 am

          There are no “merits” to a proposal which fails on every level to solve a perceived problem and does not have the data to correctly express that a problem actually exists in the first place.

          The “merits” of the road are noteworthy only in the illogical way supporters of this scheme discard the obvious. There are five ‘ready to use’ other non-flood plain exits to Slyfield industrial estate, exiting out through Woodlands Road, Old Farm Road and Waterside road.

          The local residents who have already accepted this in principle, are apparently happy with 1,800 vehicles per day onto these roads – just to get the water works moved (a price I would not be happy to pay) What does it matter if the cars come from an industrial estate or housing?

          Actually, the logical exit to this site whether for housing or industrial use is at Bellfields Roundabout which is the shortest distance to a main arterial, the A3 road just 0.85m rather than nearly 1.8m into a traffic jam. The Bellfields route is also away from the main A320 through road to Woking.

          As for “professional engineers”, I would point out the Titanic was built by professionals.

          • George Potter

            April 22, 2016 at 3:33 pm

            While it’s true that the professionals and experts sometimes get things wrong, they’re more likely to be correct than a vociferous amateur with no background in the field whatsoever.

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    April 19, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Both George Potter and Jim Allen have in the past proved themselves to be greatly concerned over the many problems facing our town and the quality of life of our residents.

    I am sure that I am not alone in thanking them for this.

    I hope that they in the future will unite in the opposition of other developments such as the ill conceived Blackwell Farm development.

  4. David Pillinger Reply

    May 13, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Hannah Thompson did not win her seat but her time will come. She appears motivated, intelligent, well advised and open to challenging conventional wisdom. Always good.

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