Chris Humphries campaigns for his Wiltshire Council seat as an Independent
He’s been serving the area as a councillor for forty-three years – starting out as an Independent Aldbourne Parish councillor in 1970. He’s served as a Wiltshire Councillor, on both county and unitary councils, for sixteen years as a Conservative.
As Chris Humphries told Marlborough News Online: “The area has been good to me and I wanted to give something back.” In the May 2 election he's standing as an Independent candidate for the Aldbourne and Ramsbury division to retain his seat on Wiltshire Council.
Chris Humphries has been in Aldbourne all his life and now lives, with his wife Francesca, in the village in a house built on his family’s farmland.
When he was first elected as a Wiltshire county councillor in 1997 for the Aldbourne and Ramsbury Division, his electorate covered all the eighteen parishes of what is now the Marlborough Area. It was divided into two ‘constituencies’ for the unitary elections in 2009 and this May – West Selkeley and Aldbourne & Ramsbury.
Mr Humphries also served as a councillor on the Kennet District Council until it was ‘merged’ into Wiltshire Council in 2009 – some would say ‘submerged by’. He was the Leader of Kennet District Council from 2001 to 2007.
After his suspension from Wiltshire Council’s Conservative group, rather than return to the Group, in November last year he declared himself an Independent councillor: “I had disagreements with two or three Conservative Group members.”
“I am now standing as an independent candidate because I strongly believe political ambition should not take precedence over serving the public who elect you. If re-elected I will continue to maintain the standard of service I have set since 1997.”
His campaign for the May 2 election has the support of no organisation. He has a team of volunteers delivering leaflets for him.
During the unitary Wiltshire Council’s first four years Mr Humphries has been Chairman of the Marlborough Area Board: “It is”, he says, “reincarnating the Marlborough and Ramsbury Rural District Council which ceased to exist in 1973 – but without teeth.”
He would like the Area Board to concentrate much more on local issues: “More local decision making powers should be delegated to the Area Board. Wiltshire County Hall is too far away for local people to access from this area.”
“We are directed by central government and obliged to implement Mr Pickle’s directions on Council tax rates – hence no increase for three years. That is why budget cuts were and are continually being made. This is reflected in the benefit system overhaul and loss of many jobs and reduction in some services.”
He is also somewhat critical of the way Wiltshire Council is run: “It appears that the cabinet system does not reflect the openness of the old committee system which worked for so many years.”
In his work as a councillor, Mr Humphries says he acts as a ‘facilitator’: “I get results by discussing with officers issues that are raised by local people and Parish Councils.”
One of the areas he would like greater powers for local people is in planning: “I believe development has to take place, but in the right place – not just where developers find they can make some money.”
Marlborough News Online’s interview with the Conservative candidate for the Aldbourne and Ramsbury seat on Wiltshire Council is here.