West Norfolk leading the charge for an Independent line at County Hall
Independents in West Norfolk are hopeful they will extend their influence at County Hall after elections due to be held in May.
There are three members of the Independent group on Norfolk County Council at present, Sandra Squre, Marshland North member for the area around Terrington St Clement, Ed Maxfield, member for Mundesley and Mick Castle, a Great Yarmouth councillor.
Mr Castle is standing down in May but the Independent group will be putting up 13 councillors in the 84 divisions.
Even with long standing councillor Mick Castle standing down this year, this years election will see at least 13 Independent Candidates contesting some of the 84 seats around the County.
Ms Squire, the Independent group leader said: “These are the candidates we are aware of. Anyone can stand as an Independent candidate, so there could well be candidates out there who haven’t got in touch, that we don’t know about yet. It’s been wonderful to see so many people put themselves forward to represent Norfolk residents without being tied to a party line.”
A large number of the candidates are based in West Norfolk, where Independents are now the main opposition at West Norfolk Council.
The campaign for more Independents in West Norfolk was organised by Jim Moriarty, borough councillor for Massingham with Castle Acre ward, who is now also standing for election to the county council.
Mr Moriarty said: “At the last set of local elections in 2019, there was certainly a mood amongst voters that they wanted change at the borough council.
"They wanted councillors to represent them, and not simply be yet more political party puppets. I sense the same mood today as we approach county council elections.
"Voters are still fed up with vague promises from party candidates who, if elected, simply disappear back into the political machine and vote as the party tells them, not for what is best for the voters who elected them.”
Policies that have originated with the Independents include the Bblloon and lantern release charter, a pollinator action plan, the campaign for a reduction in single use plastics, the expansion of the Environmental Awards and the creation of the 1 million Trees Project.
They have campaigned on everything from Special Educational Needs and educational results for boys to fairer pay for carers.
All of the current members of the Independent group at County Hall, started their political careers as party members. However, they all agree that being Independent has given them far more freedom to represent their residents as they wish and allows them to work cross party to get things done.
Mr Maxfield, who joined the group last year said “I don’t have to ask permission from party bosses. I don’t have to stop and think ‘how will this look for my party?’ I am just answerable to my own values and the needs and wishes of the people I represent. And I have been able to achieve more for local people in the last few months than I could in the previous three years.”