Four candidates seeking to win Ardingly and Balcombe by-election

Four candidates have put themselves forward to contest a by-election in Ardingly and Balcombe.

Clockwise from top left: Conservative Lorraine Carvalho, Green Jenny Edwards, Lib Dem Ben Jerrit and Independent Carole Steggles

The Mid Sussex District Council seat became vacant after the death of long-time councillor Andrew MacNaughton, who served continuously for 34 years.

A by-election will be held on Thursday July 8.

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Lorraine Carvalho, who is the Conservative Party candidate, said: “I would hope to be able to not only retain the character and charm of the villages situated in the Ardingly and Balcombe ward but also to look at how a green agenda (carbon neutral and zero emissions) can be implemented throughout the region by the implementation of an integrated approach to household waste, the provision of electric re-charging points in public spaces, the encouragement of alternative transport uses with particular emphasis on walking and cycling and ensuring adequate infrastructure is available to support viable local business that provide both a source of local employment and self-employment.”

Jenny Edwards, the Green Party candidate, has been an Ardingly resident for 28 years and enjoys walking through the beautiful Mid Sussex countryside with her dog Teddy.

Until the pandemic struck, Jenny worked as a business coach, primarily working with small businesses. Latterly her coaching has focused on looking at the ways a changing climate might affect businesses and their employees.

She has served on West Hoathly Parish Council for five years and has been active in the Balcombe anti-fracking campaign and has been working with volunteering groups in the UK and Europe to raise awareness about environmental issues.

If elected she says she would be a hard working councillor committed to preserving the traditional Mid Sussex way of life.

Ben Jerrit, the Liberal Democrats’ candidate, worked in TV drama for ten years as an assistant director on productions such as The Bill, EastEnders and Casualty before deciding to retrain as a teacher.

He now lives in Ardingly with his wife Gabbie, a biology teacher, and their two children.

Alongside teaching and campaigning Ben has set himself the goal of running 1,000km in 2021, which has given him the chance to get to know the area’s wonderful countryside well.

He argued that the council had been led by one party for far too long leading to ‘sloppy’ decision making such as the ‘botched attempt’ to close Clair Hall.

Carole Steggles, a Turners Hill parish councillor, is standing as an Independent candidate and says if elected she would be able to vote and support policies without restrictions imposed by party politics.

She was a director of Age UK East Grinstead and is currently an executive committee member of Disability Access East Grinstead.

Her volunteering for charities has given her an insight into the problems older people and the disabled face.

Carole said infrastructure was essential when new homes are built alongside supporting services such as public transport, schools and access to doctors’ surgeries.

She also believes planning projects should make local areas better places to live and work in and be environmentally friendly.