On Thursday 2nd May, for the first time in my life, I’ll be voting Labour in Ripley & Marehay, and I encourage you to do the same

For over a decade, the Conservatives have held control of Amber Valley Borough Council – with a single year being taken by Labour. Between 2008 and 2015, I was a local activist for them and employed by Amber Valley’s Member of Parliament between 2010 and 2015.

In that time, I saw the quality of candidates and, since then, the leadership of the Council become less and less competent. I saw the Conservatives once reject their own Local Plan and another one, last year, being rejected because it was not fit for purpose by the Planning Inspector. I saw the Conservatives break their own pledge to freeze Council Tax.

I am not a supporter of the Labour Party on a national level (I am far too economically right-wing for that), but I have always believed in voting for candidates in local elections and voting for and against local administrations that do, or do not, do the best by their constituents.

I will be voting for Ian Fisher on Thursday 2nd May to represent me in Ripley & Marehay.

Ian has committed himself and stated that the rest of the Labour Group will tear up this absurdity of a Local Plan, which will otherwise see 24% of the housing need for Amber Valley being placed in two wards: Ripley and Marehay and Ripley. He has pledged to reverse the deletion of the green belt in Marehay. Our roads and other infrastructure will struggle to cope if they otherwise went ahead with these proposals.

Ian is also a man who has had two decades of experience in local government, with cabinet responsibilities and is an incredibly competent man. I know this because he’s my best friend’s Dad, and can personally vouch that he’d do anything to help people in need. In fact, due to his work in Ripley Town Council, we have a Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Ripley Library and we have events for young people and a youth centre, teaching young people skills and how to take care of themselves on the Internet and the streets.

He has pledged to hold regular surgeries, unlike his Conservative incumbent and opponent.

Ron Ashton’s record is hardly a stellar one. He may have voted against the deletion of Marehay’s greenbelt. In my view, this was only possible – and politically expedient – because the arithmetic of AVBC allowed him to do so. I may be wrong, but that is a personal view. In his leaflets, he makes reference to identifying other local sites that might be possible to build on, including the old Butterley Engineering site. This is recycled: I remember in 2013 helping to identify this site as a possible alternative, but the administration would not borrow to invest in regenerating the site.

In his work at Ripley Town Council, Ian has ensured that there are environmentally-friendly policies. These will help sustain not just local conservation, but the environment that as a man who’s very nearly on the wrong side of 30, I will be grateful for when I am an older person — and I know that my nieces and nephews will certainly be. Ripley Town Council has suggested expanding the role of public transport and green energy solutions to reduce CO2 emissions, identified that Amber Valley Borough Council has the lowest recycling rate in Derbyshire and proposed new recycling sites to tackle this, and has proposed solutions to help with the protection and preservation of wildlife, woodlands and trees.

I’ll be voting for Ian on Thursday. It will be the first time I’ve voted Labour in my entire life.

I encourage you to do the same to end this incompetence at the Town Hall and end the unfair and unsustainable amount of housing that two wards are expected to accept.

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