Tory and Independent candidates prepare for Marlborough by-election battle
They’re on their marks – October 13 has been set as by-election day for a vacant seat on Marlborough town council following the surprise resignation last month of Tory councillor Martin Houlden (pictured).
And already it is known there is to be a clash between Independent and Conservative candidates, whose identities have yet to be revealed as nominations are not due until the week of September 9.
But one is believed to be a senior Tory knight and the other an IT expert, who will fly the flag of independence.
There is some concern over Conservative support since Mr Houlden, who stood as an Independent Conservative against Claire Perry at the last general election, served the town council for such a short time.
He won his seat following a by-election last August, but has now moved with his family to Bournemouth whilst during the past year Marlborough has suffered from austerity cuts in the Wiltshire Council budget.
It has suffered too from persistent traffic jams due to the rebuilding of the Pewsey Road bridge. Many High Street traders – and residents -- protested that the extended bridge project was undertaken by Conservative-controlled Wiltshire Council without due consideration being given to its economic and environmental effects on the town.
Mr Houlden, 38, married with two children, set up his computer business in Marlborough High Street after arriving in the town in 2005.
“We moved here as Marie worked for Nationwide and was offered a new role at head office in Swindon,” he told Marlborough News Online last month. “We travelled up one day to the area to look for a nice place relatively near to Swindon.
“Marlborough was first on the list, and we didn’t even bother going to see any other towns after that.”
Explaining his decision to leave, he said: “I think if I were the only Conservative councillor for the area – or the MP – then I might have made a different decision, but when you’re only one of 16 town council members, the impact of departing is of course a lot less.”
“Plus now whomever replaces me will have time to get up to speed and see if they want to run for the unitary Wiltshire council in 2013.”
It is understood that no Lib-Dem candidate will contest the by-election, which will avoid splitting the vote, but the by-election is equally open to be contested by Labour, Green or any other candidates.