I have been touched by how many of you have contacted me to say they are surprised that I am not standing again for re-election this week as your local Independent Councillor. Your continued and growing support for me over the past decade has been invaluable – as Haslemere’s first Independent Surrey County Councillor and Town Councillor. As I turn to new ways to contribute both in and beyond our community, I offer a few reflections as I step down…
Over the years, I have often been challenged, ‘Why don’t you belong to a political party?’ and ‘Why vote for an Independent, what do you stand for?’ My answer is always clear- I don’t believe party politics should play any role in local decision-making. As your Independent Councillor, I have strongly believed my only focus should be to listen to your priorities and concerns as my constituents, and to serve you to my very best ability- quite simply to put ‘Haslemere First’.
My track record shows how effective an Independent Councillor can be (www.haslemerefirst.com). Just some of my activities include being a founding member of Haslemere Vision which designed our Neighbourhood Plan, co-creating the Haslemere Community Rail Partnership (now expanded to SWR’s Rail to Coast Partnership) and Haslemere South Residents Association and teaming on the establishment of Haslemere Active Travel. My role as an Independent also enabled me to successfully coordinate and advocate for many community needs, including: the new Stepping Stones school site at Hindhead, the saving of the Hunter Centre, securing funds for the installation of new conservation street lights, several pedestrian crossings and safety measures as well as a helping establish a number of community Covid initiatives, and Haslemere food bank’s Trolley Tuesday. Lastly, I have been a consistent voice for you as my constituents when it comes to fighting to protect the environment and Haslemere’s special surrounding countryside.
It has been a great honour to serve Haslemere and to have met and worked with so many exceptional people – Haslemere really is a unique and very special place! I am excited to be embarking on new adventures focussing on environmental sustainability and the provision of youth services, both areas close to my heart.
I wish all candidates the very best this Thursday as they commit to serving you and the community for the next term.
Nikki Barton, Independent Councillor, 2013 – 2023