Melton borough residents will go to the polls on May 4 to vote for councillors to represent them in four wards on Leicestershire County Council.
Over the next two weeks we are publishing profiles of each of the candidates to help constituents decide which box to put their cross in.
This week we focus on Melton East and Melton West before next week turning our attentions to the Belvoir and Melton Wolds wards.
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Colin Ellis (Labour)
Colin is married with three daughters and four grandchildren. He has been active in the trade union movement for several years. He was a full-time branch chair of Unite and chair of the Unite regional transport trade group, representing some 23,000 bus workers.
Colin has been a local parish councillor and, in the past, was Mayor of Earl Shilton in Leicestershire.
Colin is a director and trustee of Emmaus Leicestershire and Rutland, which is a homeless charity which has recently expanded into Melton with a new shop being opened shortly.
He is concerned that Leicestershire has gradually seen more services being cut and others being privatised.
Colin opposes increasing privatisation as he believes services delivered in-house makes them more responsive to residents’ concerns and also more cost-efficient, as there is no profit added on top.
Both Melton Museum and the library have seen their opening hours reduced, he points out. Colin believes that the museum encourages tourism and should be supported. The library plays a major role in helping people into work, he says, and helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with their school work.
Colin also supports a government-funded full bypass for the town.
Alastair McQuillan (Green)
Alastair has lived in Melton for over 30 years and is a committed campaigner for protecting and improving our town.
He would like to see more done to encourage people to travel on buses, to cycle or to walk, as opposed to just driving a car.
Alastair is a critic of the borough’s housing policy and is concerned about expansion into the green spaces that surround the town.
He is part of the campaign to keep Melton and the Vale of Belvoir free from fracking.
If elected, Alastair pledges to make roads safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, to bring environmental issues into council decisions, to protect the health service from cuts and to oppose government reductions in council funding.
Pam Posnett (Conservative)
Pam is the standing councillor for the Melton East ward. She has lived in Melton since 1973 and was employed by Pedigree Petfoods as an occupational health nurse.
Pam, who is also a member of Melton Borough Council, is the lead for the Armed Forces Covenant and supports the monthly veterans’ breakfast club in the town.
She has a son and daughter and four grandchildren.
Pam is a school governor, and is chair of Melton Mencap and Melton Learning Hub.
As a director of Melton Young Enterprise, she works with a charity which supports young people up to the age of 25 who live in the borough of Melton and require assistance with education or employment.
Her priorities for Melton East include delivering the much-needed bypass, to seek extra enforcement for speeding traffic and to continue to fight for more funding for the area.
Pam says she has a strong track record of working hard for local people and is seeking support from residents to be the next county councillor to serve Melton East.
Dr Ian Ridley is 45 and works as a data analyst. He has been a parent governor at a primary school for eight years, chairing a finance committee for four of them.
Ian said: “Being a school governor has given me a practical knowledge of school budgets in Leicestershire. Cuts by the Conservatives at both Westminster and County Hall pose a very real threat to the quality of our children’s education over the coming years.
“I will work to protect the funding of our local schools.”
Ian has also campaigned against reductions to tip opening times and Conservative plans to bring in on-street parking meters.
He added: “It is bad enough that the Tory-run Melton Borough Council charges for car parks; now parking meters will threaten local businesses in a time of economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote.”
Ian has a Doctorate in Climate Physics from Leicester University. His research experience means that he takes a keen interest in preventing climate change, locally and internationally.
Ian is concerned that a ‘hard Brexit’ will damage the UK’s prosperity, environment and continuing peace in Europe.
John Scutter (UKIP)
John is concerned that the current county council administration proposes £66m worth of cuts to services over four years.
He points out that UKIP in Leicestershire supports the implementation of the report ‘Strategic Financial Case for a Unitary Council’ by EY (formerly Ernst and Young), commissioned by the county council and published in February 2014. The report proposes the consolidation of the seven district councils and the county council into a unitary authority. It does not include the city.
John says services would be provided through satellite offices along the lines of established district councils. Local accountability would be maintained through local joint committees or Action Area Partnerships, as established in Shropshire and Durham, he adds. The report calculated this would generate savings of nearly £90 million over five years, John points out. These are savings which he believes can be used to protect front line services.
John said: “The electorate can show their support for the implementation of this more economically sustainable model for local government in Leicestershire by lending me their vote on May 4.”
Sam Asplin (Liberal Dem)
Sam is 23, grew up in and around Melton, and currently works as a teaching assistant at Whissendine Primary School, as well as volunteering for a children’s residential charity, ATE.
Despite his age, he already has experience of local government as a previous Rutland County Councillor for Whissendine where he was pleased to serve the local community.
Sam, if elected, would like to ensure residents are kept up to date with, and become more engaged in, local government decisions. He would also like to support his Liberal Democrat colleagues in delivering a better service for the residents of Melton West and Leicestershire as a whole.
“For far too many people, local government has become an irrelevance, and many feel increasingly distanced from a county council that should be there to make decisions on their behalf,” he said.
“At a time in which demands on many local services increase, whilst the council’s budget is squeezed by Government cuts, difficult decisions are being made without influence from those most affected by them.
“Our council must engage fully with the people it is there to serve, and if elected I would ensure that residents are fully aware of the tough choices that need to be made, and make sure they are properly consulted before decisions are made.”
Michael Blase (Labour)
Michael is a proud Meltonian. He lives in the Melton West Division on the Egerton Ward, where he is a borough councillor and member of RAGE, the residents’ action group.
Michael was born, raised and educated in Melton and so were his children and grandchildren.
As such, Michael and his family take a keen interest in the future of the town. He is concerned that Melton is still waiting for a bypass to be built despite the Conservatives saying it would be built by 2014.
Michael has concerns over the proposed bypass for the east of the town because he believes it should address the west of the town where he says the main traffic issues are.
He will campaign for a fully government-funded bypass to relieve the traffic problems in the West of Melton.
Michael said: “The Conservatives are proposing more cuts to services at County Hall.
“Labour’s reorganisation of local government would save at least £30 million which could be put back into services. We would change the Conservatives’ priorities to save services and would also end privatisation. Why should the private sector make a profit out of running council services when they are best done in-house - and cheaper?”
Alan Pearson (Conservative)
Alan has lived in Melton for over 22 years and is a resident of Melton West with his wife Silvana.
As a business owner based at Asfordby Business Park he employs local people and is in touch with the needs of working families.
Four years ago, the residents of South Melton voted him in as their county councillor, which he said has been a privilege, and, due to boundary changes, he is standing now for Melton West.
Over the last four years, Alan has represented Melton on the adult social services, health and overview scrutiny committee and was appointed chair of Melton’s highways forum.
As an ex-health professional working with adult social services and disability, he will campaign to retain as many local services as possible for Melton Mowbray residents.
He is keen that elderly residents get their fair share of the £19.7 million extra funding being made available in Leicestershire.
Alan says he has been a driving force on the push to build a bypass for Melton, helping to secure funding for the business case, and will continue to work hard on it.
A sports lover and rugby coach, he has been actively involved in Melton’s leisure vision and hopes to play a key role in delivering the sports village project.
Alan is also leading a campaign to tackle Melton’s dog fouling issues and is working with residents to help clean up the streets and educate pet owners not to allow fouling.