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New party to take on the Tories in Royal Borough election next May

A new political party has been formed in the borough by residents and independent councillors seeking to fight the Conservatives at next year’s local election.

The Borough First (TBF) aims to support, train and guide ‘community-focused, values-based’ candidates without an allegiance to a national political party.

It is looking to form an ‘umbrella organisation’, a launch statement released by the group this week said.

It will act as a ‘brand’ which helps candidates understand how the council works, understand what the current administration has put in place, and back their campaigns.

Describing itself as ‘grassroots’, it said that policy will not be set by the party but by pledges ‘developed by discussion and informed by robust evidence’ between the candidates. The group believes this will provide a ‘residents-led, bottom-up, values-driven approach’, with important decisions being taken on the basis that TBF candidates agree to ‘putting the borough first’.

Its ranks include serving borough councillors Charles Hollingsworth (Ind, Pinkneys Green), Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor), Claire Stretton (Ind, Boyn Hill) and Wisdom Da Costa (Ind, Clewer North).

Other founders include independent Bray parish councillor Brian Millin, Windsor resident Helen Price and Maidenhead residents Tony Perry and Paul Serjeant.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for politics and the local democracy in the Royal Borough,” said Cllr Hollingsworth.

“I’m calling on anyone who has got fed up of party politics getting in the way of local democracy to step up and get involved, as a member, supporter or potential candidate.

“We are looking for residents and business owners dedicated and passionate about the Royal Borough and wanting to see democracy carried out in a more effective way.”

Cllrs Hollingsworth and Stretton left the Conservative group separately last year after criticising the Royal Borough leadership.

Cllr Stretton said: “In the modern world, independently-minded people work in constructive and effective groups every day, at work, at home and in their leisure time, achieving everything from getting hospices built to running large events, like the Maidenhead Festival.

“The Borough First has been formed to achieve this transformation in our borough.”

The group statement said that national party agendas have ‘totally undermined’ local government.

Prospective candidates hoping to stand for election under the TBF banner will go through a selection process that focuses on determining their ‘integrity, ability and honest intent’, and will need to sign an agreement that confirms they are not members of a national party.

It intends to put up candidates in every ward, provided they meet the criteria.

TBF wants to operate without the usual mechanics seen in political parties, which its members claim discourages creative solutions’ and ‘proper debate’.

Meanwhile, an administrative grouping of opposition councillors, called Not the Administration, will continue for now.

Cllrs Hollingsworth and Stretton intend to change their listings in the Royal Borough website to show they are part of The Borough First today (Thursday).

Visit www.theboroughfirst.org for information.

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