BY-ELECTION: Will UKIP mount a significant challenge to the Tories in the Warnham and Rusper by-election?

JPCT 101013 S13410080x Geoff Stevens. The Haven.  -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 101013 S13410080x Geoff Stevens. The Haven. -photo by Steve Cobb

The Conservative candidate in next Thursday’s Warnham and Rusper by-election was surprised to see one of her former Tory colleagues delivering a leaflet through her door this week.

“My first reaction was to laugh,” said Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate), when the district council’s former deputy leader Roger Arthur approached with UKIP leaflets in hand.

Mr Arthur (UKIP, Chanctonbury), who will be challenging Francis Maude in the 2015 general election, has been canvassing on behalf of UKIP county hopeful Geoff Stevens.

The 62 year old candidate, who runs Haven Landscapes. and lives on Haven Road, Rudgwick, told the County Times this week: “I think a lot of people are completely fed up with the Government’s inability to control immigration, their lack of ability to control utilities price-wise, and they forget about our rural background - that’s what UKIP stands for.

“I’m not racist,” said the life-long Rudgwick resident, “but I do strongly believe that as this is only a small island, and we are only the caretakers, we’ve got to look after it.”

Back in May, Mr Stevens secured 673 votes, which amounted to a 7.4 per cent swing to UKIP, despite the Conservative incumbent, Mick Hodgson, winning with 1,228 votes. Mr Hodgson died in August.

Apart from UKIP, each party is fielding new candidates on October 24

Solicitor Tony Millson, the husband of Liberal Democrat county councillor for Horsham Morwen Millson, says he wants to ensure county council money is spent well in a time of austerity and ‘is used to protect those who are most vulnerable’.

“A major issue is housing for young people, particularly those who are not yet on the property ladder,” said the Lib Dem candidate. “The County Council should play its part in ensuring the provision of homes for young people from the locality whilst protecting the countryside.”

Mr Stevens meanwhile said that while he understands the need for new homes, if it wasn’t for ‘all these foreigners coming in... we wouldn’t have a housing shortage’.

And Mrs Kitchen has been publicly campaigning against her own council’s preferred housing strategy which includes the controversial 2,500-home North Horsham development. (see page 35)

For Mrs Kitchen, local issues should be central to local elections andafter receiving the UKIP literature delivered by Mr Arthur she commented: “If you read through their leaflet there is very little to do with local government.”

However, Mr Arthur said: “I thought she might be interested to know - she might even decide to cross the floor!”

Sadly for him though, Mrs Kitchen declares in this week’s The Interview that she will always be a Tory!

The full list of candidates for next thursday’s (October 24, 2013) Warham and Rusper county by-election is as follows: Green -Darren Green; Labour - Carol Hayton; Conservative - Liz Kitchen; Liberal Democrat - Tony Millson; UKIP - Geoff Stevens

Polling stations open from 7am to 10pm.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? WILL UKIP MOUNT A SIGINIFICANT CHALLENGE IN THE WARNHAM AND RUSPER BY-ELECTION?

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By Theo Cronin | theo.cronin@jpress.co.uk | 01403 751 233 | @theocronin | Do you have a story?