Tonbridge independent candidate Pilgrim wants progress

Tonbridge independent candidate Pilgrim wants progress
AREAS OF CONCERN: 'I’m standing for normal, hard-working people who are trying to get along in this world'

STACEY PILGRIM is standing as an independent candidate for Tonbridge’s Trench ward, and is up against the Mayor of Tonbridge & Malling, Pam Bates, and fellow Conservative councillor Georgina Thomas.

He is the only non-aligned candidate in the borough outside Borough Green.

The 45-year-old has lived in Trench all his life and works as a quarry foreman.

Among the hot topics in Trench is the proposals in the draft Local Plan, submitted in January, to build 300 houses on the old Coblands nursery site and 54 at Tonbridge Farm, home of Tonbridge Angels Football Club, on Green Belt land.

It is also the area of Tonbridge & Malling most affected by child poverty, with almost one in three children, 32.48 per cent, living below the poverty line according to the latest figures.

You are standing against the Mayor in Trench ward. Why?

I’m standing in Trench ward as I believe the area needs a truly local person who understands the needs and issues in the area.

This wasn’t a difficult decision to make when you look at what both our councillors had voted on in the Local Plan.

How can they agree to a plan that would see the destruction of Green Belt land to build over 300 houses, or the decision to allow the destruction of the Primrose Inn in Pembury Road?

Our town and wards require a complete change of councillors to ensure we don’t lose every historical building and every piece of green land.

You are objecting to these homes being built on Green Belt land. But the council is required to build more housing. Where would you put them?

I think the council missed a very good opportunity to build on the land around the industrial estate; the current home to Aldi and B&M should have been made available for social housing for local people.

It’s a bad idea to allow out-of-town shops to be built when it could effectively take much needed business away from the High Street.

The council should look at the alternative sites that they disregarded where they could build 11,700 homes.

You want to set up a ‘community council’ – how would that work? If it’s an unelected body, how would it get things done?

The community council would be made up from unelected members of the ward. We would come together to discuss every issue relating to Trench ward and the town.

It would be a way for the residents of the ward to give clear instructions on how we should vote on important issues affecting not only Trench ward but the whole town.

Something I found out when I’ve been walking and talking to residents is that they feel nobody at present listens to them and they feel let down.

Do you think the council is not doing enough to keep the town clean and the roads in good condition?

I think the army of people that go out early every day to clean the high street are the unsung heroes, they do a fantastic job in all weather.

I do think they are up against it when it comes to the irresponsible actions of the general public, who continue to drop litter all over the place.

When you look at the roads in and around Tonbridge, they are in a pretty poor condition. The money that has been spent on recent upgrades to the town would have of been better used for repairs to the roads and footpaths.

I also think that the council should be making the owners of the empty shops on the station approach tidy the shopfronts up. We have a fantastic town and this lets it down.

You are concerned about anti-social behaviour – how would you tackle that issue?

Anti-social behaviour is a big problem in every town and city. I think we need to engage more with the authorities to try and improve the presence of PCSOs and the police.

We also need to increase local neighbourhood watch schemes, and offer more activities for the younger generations to get involved in. Having nowhere to go can often lead to unwanted behaviour.

After the creation of Change UK – the Independent Group, do you think people have become disaffected by mainstream parties and are more in favour of independent-minded political figures?

Yes most definitely, people look at both mainstream parties and see Elected MPs refusing to carry out what the people voted for. I’m not talking about the B-word, I’m talking in general.

Independent-minded politicians are free from the constraints of party politics, you’re not told what to do. Look at both parties now, they have lost members to the Independent Group.

Independent councillors or MPs can choose their own destiny, that’s why I’m standing as an independent.

I’m standing for normal, hard-working people who are trying to get along in this world, trying to make every pound they earn stretch. That’s not always easy or possible.

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