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Sun Shines On a Greenbelt Group Candidate Out Canvassing

Published on: 15 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 17 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 Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) as they campaigned in the Clandon and Horsley ward.

by Hugh Coakley

Catherine Young, the Guildford Greenbelt Group candidate for Clandon and Horsley ward in the Guilford Borough elections on May 2, out canvassing.

So far, we have walked the streets in gritty Westborough with the Lib Dems, and the gentler Christchurch suburbs with R4GV.

This time, on a cold but sunny day, the lovely Clandon and Horsley ward countryside seemed most appropriate for a stroll with GGG candidate Catherine Young while she canvassed.

Earlier, we had chatted in her kitchen over a cup of tea. Four years ago, Catherine had stood in the Holy Trinity ward and that experience seems to have sharpened her urge to go political and influence how things are done. She said: “It was an eye-opener for me.”

Catherine is now involved in the Campaign to Protect Rural England, sits on West Horsley Parish Council and has seen the West Horsley Neighbourhood Plan adopted by Guildford Borough Council.

“We can use neighbourhood plans to counteract some of the developments or try to influence and shape them,” she said. “It’s not Nimby. Often, there are just better places to put houses.”

She is an ordinary, working person but she is utterly convincing as a local politician, informed, articulate and very, very determined.

Catherine worked for M&S for 20 years, starting as a graduate manager, switched to being a teacher’s assistant in the local primary and now works in Cobham Library.

“Sometimes I can’t really believe I’m doing this. My Facebook page says ‘Sometimes you have got to do what you have to do’ and that’s really what I feel.”

And it is all change in the ward with the three present councillors, two Conservatives and one GGG, all standing down. Catherine and two R4GV candidates will be in a straight fight on May 2 against three Conservatives (Alex Fiuza, Caroline Heath-Taylor and James Rogerson).

“We have everything to play for,” she said. “And who knows what we can achieve.”

I asked why she didn’t stand as an Independent rather than GGG. Catherine said she was very happy to work and canvass with the R4GV. “We share a lot of values. Both groups are determined that resident groups should run the council.”

Guildford Greenbelt Group and R4GV candidates holding each other’s campaign brochures. Tim Anderson (R4GV), Catherine Young and Chris Barrass (R4GV) out canvassing together.

About speaking in public and whether she will be happy to put her points across in the very formal council chamber, she said: “You have to do your homework. I will be daunted but I’ve done it at appeals. If you have your facts, you just tell it like it is.”

Catherine enjoyed mainly positive reactions when she knocked on the doors. Housing development was the issue uppermost in people’s minds And, of course, Catherine is very much on home territory on that.

One chap was happy to talk and debate with Catherine but adamant that he would no longer vote. “I always voted before but don’t trust any politician now, including the local politicians.”

“That’s a bit disheartening,” said Catherine. “But there was nothing I could say that would change his mind.”

I asked her why she thought Susan Parker, the GGG leader, had nominated her to be interviewed by The Guildford Dragon NEWS. “I’m not sure. Maybe she thought I needed the experience.”

Experienced or not, Catherine puts GGG’s case very well. “I think my Dad would be quite impressed and proud,” she said.

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