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Lucy Bramley, Richard Frampton, Sarah Howard and James Swyer battle for New Forest District Council's Bransgore and Burley byelection

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FOUR candidates are battling it out in the final days of a Christmas byelection for a place on New Forest District Council.

The seat was vacated after Conservative Mark Steele quit the ruling cabinet and stepped down as a councillor following a row with NFDC leader Cllr Edward Heron.

The Tories currently control the 60-member authority with a majority of 14.

The ballot for the Bransgore and Burley ward on Thursday 23rd December will be between Lucy Bramley (Green Party), Richard Frampton (Independent), Sarah Howard (Conservative) and James Swyer (Labour).

Lucy Bramley (Green)

Lucy Bramley
Lucy Bramley

Burley resident Ms Bramley worked for IBM and Microsoft and has just started her own business as a sustainability coach. She said she was passionate about the environment, was anti-litter, and had concerns about crime rates.

She said her “love of helping people” was exemplified in her work as vice-chair of Burley WI and collections co-ordinator for Ringwood Guide Dogs for the Blind. She also helped youngsters as a volunteer enterprise advisor at Bournemouth and Poole College.

“My decision-making is guided by morals and community, not by the interests of big corporations or political opportunism,” she added.

Richard Frampton (Independent)

Richard Frampton
Richard Frampton

Mr Frampton, who has Mr Steele as one of his nominees, is a Bransgore farmer who produces Dickey’s Dribble cider and was formerly on the national park authority and twice an NFDC councillor.

He began his political career as a Liberal Democrat before switching to be part of the ruling Conservative administration. However, he quit the party over cuts to public services to become an Independent and did not stand at the 2019 election.

He told the A&T: “I believe local matters should not be biased by politics and a yearning to get back in control at all cost.”

He said he was well versed in local infrastructure and planning, adding: “I want to give as much back to the community as I can.”

Sarah Howard (Conservative)

Sarah Howard
Sarah Howard

Ms Howard, who lives at Thorney Hill, is standing to be a councillor for the first time.

She said: “That’s a positive as I do not have any previous record but will bring my business experience, fresh eyes and feel excited about the prospect of being a councillor.”

A professional chef and one of only nine female members of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Ms Howard is a volunteer trustee of a local charity dedicated to supporting disadvantaged adults, and a Bransgore WI member.

She pledged to champion businesses, young people and community-led education.

James Swyer (Labour)

James Swyer
James Swyer

Mr Swyer leads the communications department for the Fordingbridge-based Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and also volunteers for the Talking Cherries group, which uses football to encourage people, particularly men, to discuss their mental health.

He said he was standing “because local politics needs a different approach – open, transparent and active for the community it serves”.

Local people, he said, shared his concerns about poor bus services, falling police numbers and developments such as the proposed 100-home development on Derritt Lane.

He said: “I’d offer a clean slate, standing up for what matters to the local community.”Votes can be cast from 7am-10pm at either Bransgore or Burley village halls.

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