Worthing West: Meet the candidates standing to be your MP

These are the candidates hoping to be elected the MP for Worthing West at the General Election on December 12. We asked each one of them why they should get your vote:

The candidates: David Aherne (Independent), Jamie Bennett (Lib Dem), Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative), Beccy Cooper (Labour), Jo Paul (Green)
The candidates: David Aherne (Independent), Jamie Bennett (Lib Dem), Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative), Beccy Cooper (Labour), Jo Paul (Green)

David Aherne (Independent):

“I launched the original Brighton and Hove ecology party in 1987 with a massive picnic in Queen’s Park with Jonathan Porritt coming to speak.

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“Ten years ago, when there had not been a Green Party in Worthing for four years, I thought I could do exactly the same again, and I did.

“It rose to over 300 members.

“Up until three years ago, I have been occasionally having a stand in Worthing to promote green policies and the Green Party, which was very successful.

“Unfortunately, at the meeting, other people wanted to be chairman and I was voted out.

“I’m now standing as an Independent, because I still believe in all the green principles.

“One of the principles is that fair is worth fighting for.

“That includes being against ageism.

“I will come back with a new party, probably within the new year.

“I’ve been fighting all the time on various issues, including getting the west side of Durrington Station open all night.

“I went vegetarian when I was three and a half and I now advise caterers on vegan and vegetarian menus and certify their products.

“I believe that we are facing a crucial time for the environment and we have to reduce our footprint on the planet dramatically, if we are to save it and to live in a world that is suitable for people to still live in when we are gone.”

Jamie Bennett (Liberal Democrats):

“I grew up in Newhaven and Seaford, becoming involved in the Liberal Democrats at a young age, helping to campaign in the 1997 General Election where Norman Baker snatched the safe conservative seat of Lewes for the Lib Dems.

“Watching the amazing work Norman achieved really inspired me to fight for what I believed in.

“I moved to Rustington aged 18 to live with my partner Jo.

“I was elected to Rustington Parish Council as a Liberal Democrat in 2009 aged 20 and have defended my seat ever since, serving as vice chairman from 2015-2017 and chairman from 2017-2019.

“I was elected to Arun District Council in 2019. In 2014, I married Jo and we had our son Elliott in 2016.

“Our political system has been damaged by recent politicians of all parties. The public don’t trust MPs.

“This needs to change with our election law improved in order to cut out the ability for the public to be misinformed.

“Young people are suffering through years of abandonment allowing house prices to rise, sale of council houses with no replacements and the unfair education system where league tables are more important that seeing a young person achieve their dreams.

“Under the 2010-2015 coalition government the Liberal Democrats started to change this by increasing apprenticeships, increasing the income tax threshold from £6,500 to £11,000 per year and investing in green technology.

“I will continue to fight for the young and a liberal, more democratic nation where everyone is treated the same no matter background, age, sex or religion.”

Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative):

“People kindly say I have experience, energy and wisdom, used to do good, to help everyone and to reduce disadvantage while increasing opportunities.

“A liberally-minded socially-conscious national-interest Conservative: in parliament I have worked happily and effectively cross-party, on issues that include the Hillsborough and infected blood inquiries, on stopping the scandalous £100 stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – and most of all to end potential continuing abuse of leaseholders and park home residents.

“In the constituency and nationally I have championed the need for safe, secure housing for all.

“Everyone, no matter their age or colour of their skin, should have a warm, dry place to live.

“We should all be able to express our views freely and hear other views through an independent media. I back our local newspapers and want the BBC to continue to serve all, including with popular and local radio.

“I respect those of all faiths and none; my denomination is Church of England. I represented the British Council of Churches at the funeral of Saint Oscar Romero – previously I had visited him when he was threatened with death.

“My thanks to those who have kindly sent messages of support, a great encouragement.

“The biggest issues facing us now are climate change and leaving the EU with maximum possible advantage and minimal disruption.

“I intend to do all I can to support practical positive steps to safeguard our planet for future generations, while continuing to work for the prosperous economy we need to deliver vital services now.”

Beccy Cooper (Labour):

“Worthing’s my chosen family home and the base for my job as a medical doctor involved in public health.

“As a busy working mum of two boys, I really mean it when I say that I’m on your side in fighting for homes you can afford, in campaigning with local parents for better funding for our schools, and working with fellow local cyclists to get cycleways that are fit for purpose.

“As a local councillor I’m dealing with the issues that really matter to you every day.

“I see the impact of funding cuts to our health service, our local police force and our transport system here in our area. I fully understand the threats we face as coastal communities from the climate emergency, and I’m prepared to take tough decisions in Westminster to protect our future. It’s clear that the voters in Worthing West have an appetite for change.

“They’ve shown this in the way they’ve been voting in local elections. Just two years ago, I was elected as the first Labour councillor on Worthing Borough Council for 41 years.

“Now there are 10 of us and we really are making a difference in holding the Tory administration to account and bringing a new kind of politics to the town.

“With that local knowledge, commitment and energy, I can offer a real change from the same old politics you’re familiar with in Worthing West.

“I’m looking to the kind of bright future we can create together for all our communities.”

Jo Paul (Green):

“Worthing is changing. The world is changing. In order to make sure these changes are for the better, we must take an active role in the decisions that affect our community and our environment. Too many politicians would like to continue as if the world has infinite resources to fuel greed and an infinite capacity for rubbish. We know that simply isn’t true.

“I believe that Worthing West can take a leading role in building a more positive, more sustainable and more compassionate politics.

“This begins with listening to each other; with a commitment to ensuring everyone has their basic needs met; and with an awareness that politics is not just about winning elections, but a means of achieving a sustainable and shared common good.

“A Green vote is a powerful statement that Green policies matter, lends support to local campaigns and builds momentum for future elections, no matter the outcome of this one.

“As a senior university lecturer with a strong media presence, I have a demonstrated passion for gaining and sharing knowledge in all I do.

“I have been heavily involved in the Green Party, working in key roles within both Brighton and Hove and Worthing Greens.

“I stood in 2019 as the candidate for Central Worthing in an election where our vote share increased three-fold.

“I’ve also led on petitions for the council to declare a Climate Emergency and launch a Citizens Assembly on Climate Change – both of which have resulted in positive action.

“This is and must be the Climate Election.”