Mid-Term Update

I was honoured to be elected as Haslemere’s first Independent Surrey County Councillor in May 2013. I am now half way through my 4 year term. My commitment to the people of Haslemere was to serve in a spirit of openness, transparency and community engagement. I believe I have stood by these principles, taking input from across the town and providing regular updates on my Haslemerefirst website, on social media and in person at Haslemere Town Council meetings. Free from the constraints of party politics, I have been able to scrutinise and challenge decisions at both the town and county level (in full council and as member of the Waverley Local Area Committee, the Waverley Youth Task Group and the Environment and Transport Select Committee).

As an Independent councillor inclusive community engagement has been my priority. I have held public surgeries, stood alongside residents in their dealings with Surrey’s education and health services, attended many local events and have used every penny of my annual Members’ Allocation to support a wide range of community groups – ranging from Haslemere Scouts to Crossways Counselling and from Haslemere library to Haslemere Vision.

The results of listening to the community come in so many ways – to give just a few examples, concerns expressed about safety enabled me to win funding and acceleration for various highway schemes; understanding the higher costs for students travelling from Haslemere to colleges outside Surrey helped me successfully lobby for cheaper student train tickets to go across the border to Liss, Liphook and Petersfield; listening to parents of children at Stepping Stones gave me the passion to obtain SCC’s support for the school’s planning application in Hindhead.

Being an Independent councillor puts me in a very positive position, in that I can truly serve the community of Haslemere without any political constraints. To serve the residents of Haslemere most effectively, we need teamwork between County, Borough and Town councils; as well as those councillors who join with me in passionately serving the community from the various political parties, it will be extremely positive to have more Independents across the three tiers with new energy, ideas and commitment to shared values of openness, transparency and listening to the town.

I fully support the 12 independent town councillors and one borough councillor that are standing on May 7th and, if elected, I look forward to working with them as part of the team.

Nikki Barton