Wilmslow West Ward Borough and Town Council Elections 2019: Candidate Oliver Romain

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In the run up to the local elections on May 2nd I will be publishing brief interviews with each of the candidates - standing for seats on both the Town Council and Cheshire East Council - that respond to my request, in the order in which they respond.

To read interviews with other candidates you will be able to click on the tags at the bottom of the article. For example, pieces on the other candidates for the Wilmslow Town Council election will all be tagged 'Wilmslow Town Council 2019 Election'. Candidates representing the same party or group will also be connected via the tags, candidates competing in the same ward will be connected by tags as well and all articles will be tagged '2019 Local Elections'.

Oliver Romain is a Liberal Democrat candidate for the Wilmslow West ward on both Wilmslow Town Council and Cheshire East Council.

Please tell me about yourself - occupation, how long you have lived in Wilmslow, interests, family?

Firstly, thank you for the interview invitation. I recognise the important role that Wilmslow.co.uk and your readers play in local democracy, so I am delighted to be involved.

I have lived in Wilmslow Town Centre for over fifteen years after moving here from Stockport. I am 49 years old and married my wife, Janet, in Wilmslow shortly after moving here. We are proud parents of two sons Arthur (9) nine and Isaac (2).

When our boys and work are not keeping me busy, I have found it hugely rewarding to volunteer locally including an enjoyable role as 'Reading Buddy' at Gorsey Bank School and also in founding Wilmslow Freecycle.

In my spare time I enjoy having adventures with my young family, gardening, cooking, keeping fit and making preserves. I am also involved with Space4Autism in Macclesfield where we have a lot of fun as a family.

Workwise, I run a successful local independent mail order business. Business is seasonal and allows me to spend time with my family and also, if I am elected, to accommodate councillor roles.

It is no secret that I am also involved in campaigning for a People's Vote to ensure that people are given a real choice over their future in Europe. Brexit is an emotive subject but one that I aim to approach with respect and dignity.

Why have you decided to stand for election as a parish councillor and ward councillor for Wilmslow?

People in Wilmslow have had years of being let down by the Tories. I was shocked when I learned Cllr Barton only attends half the council meetings he should and Cllr Brooks only 8/10 meetings.

People are frustrated and want to shake things up. People who want an alternative have a choice between the hard-right politics of Residents of Wilmslow or a progressive team of Liberal Democrats who care about local people and share many of their values.

I have decided to stand to ensure that people are given the choice of candidates from an established and professional political party with clear aims and values and a proven track record in local government.

Have you stood for election before? If so when and for which party?

I have been involved with the Liberal Democrats as a member and in election campaigns for over twenty years. I have decided to team up with Birgitta Hoffmann as candidate for the Wilmslow West and Chorley Borough Ward and also the Wilmslow West Town Ward. We are the only candidate team to both live in the borough ward.

What do you consider to be the important issues facing Wilmslow?

Wilmslow is a great place to live and work, but it could be so much better.

Badly thought out development has led to impossible parking situation making our retail offering less attractive to visitors.

Schools and surgeries are facing cuts despite large-scale development. We need intelligent solutions to Wilmslow's increased population, not indiscriminate development and cut services.

Parking is a major issue. The Tory's parking review is an expensive way of kicking the issue into the long grass - people want action.

Living in Wilmslow with a young family it is often obvious where improvements can be made for families. For example, our play parks are an embarrassment compared to neighbouring towns. Our local parks are acceptable for very young children but there is little or nothing for older children and young teens.

Dog fouling is also an ongoing problem. We will help people to identify hot spots for enforcement, signage and installing dog dirt bins.

Wilmslow's retailers, both in the town centre and Chapel Lane, need serious support. A major infrastructure plan is needed, including investment in town centre parking, improved pedestrian space and traffic management.

Macclesfield's town centre redevelopment plan has been mothballed for years under the Tories. We cannot let the same happen to Wilmslow.

What do you hope to achieve and how in the next 4 years?

I want to shake things up and challenge the complacency that has pervaded local politics for years.

I have successfully campaigned to improve transparency in the awarding of Town Council grants. Next, I aim to ensure that conflicts of interest are properly declared and the practice of councillors voting to fund their own projects is ended. This will be unpopular with some councillors, however, it's not their money and it is vital that people are confident that their taxes are spent lawfully.

I will campaign for effective and targeted parking enforcement around local problem parking hotspots and for a ban on pavement parking. I will demand improved road markings and repairs so, for example, the zebra crossing on Hawthorn Lane is repaired and made legal after years of neglect before someone is injured or killed.

I will work to reinstate our Town Centre Public Toilets and for them to be made fully accessible including a Changing Places facility for users who require a bench and hoist.

I will fight the Tory supported plans to build a large commuter car park within the Hawthorn Lane Conservation Area.

As a councillor, I will be focused on making a difference for local people. Listening to people's concerns, paying attention to detail and ensuring Wilmslow is a priority for policing, housing, education, health and highways.

I have a positive outlook and work ethic. I know everybody wants a better Wilmslow and by communicating and working with people and community groups so we can make Wilmslow better.

What experience and personal qualities will you bring to the role?

Readers of wilmslow.co.uk will already know that I am not afraid to speak up and that I aim to challenge in a constructive way and occasionally with a sense of fun. I am independent minded, have good attention to detail and am pragmatic. I will support projects and policies that work for Wilmslow regardless of the politics.

I have a young family and understand the challenges local families face. I also bring extensive business experience to the role. I relish a challenge and I am pragmatic. Birgitta and I share values but bring different qualities, we work well as a team and will deliver tangible results.

Why should Wilmslow residents vote for you?

People are fed up of the Tories stranglehold and want hard-working candidates who demand better for Wilmslow. If you want truly local candidates with positive aims, shared values and a vision for Wilmslow - Demand Better - vote Romain and Hoffmann on May 2nd.

Tags:
2019 Liberal Democrat Candidate, 2019 Local Elections, Wilmslow Town Council 2019 Election, Wilmslow West Ward
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Roger Bagguley
Tuesday 23rd April 2019 at 4:52 pm
Interesting and accurate other than the observation Residents of Wilmslow is hard right. Even with your Liberal Democrat allegiance you will be made very welcome should you decide to support RoW.

Delighted to read of your work with young people on the autism spectrum. My passion too.
Oliver Romain
Tuesday 23rd April 2019 at 7:58 pm
Thanks Roger. As I said ‘I will support projects and policies that work for Wilmslow regardless of the politics.’ So where there is common ground I am open to involving members of all parties to get the job done.
Damian Carr
Tuesday 23rd April 2019 at 9:18 pm
Autism is a real challenge with more families having to negotiate the 'diagnosis' minefield to get the support they need. I'm currently looking at how best to help my Grandson. Could I suggest that once the elections are complete the 3 of us get together to see how best we can support families in Wilmslow and across Cheshire East?

Thanks,

Damian
Roger Bagguley
Tuesday 23rd April 2019 at 10:15 pm
We can talk. My work with young people with needs is via education and with a large Trust.
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 5:44 am
Oliver

A few weeks ago Conservative Councillor Rod Menlove said on this forum “vote RoW, get socialists”. Now you claim RoW is far right. Perhaps you need to speak to each other to get your story straight.

However, it highlights how both of you are fixed on national party identities and their fixed ideology, something we don’t do at RoW.

As we are not governed by any rigid dogma, we can always do what is best for Wilmslow. Usually, that is self-evident and doesn’t sit on any political spectrum. It just comes under the heading “good idea”.

I do share your desire to replace the Conservatives though. The problem is that the Lib Dem’s have never even got close to beating them in this town. Only Residents of Wilmslow have ever done it and we are doing it consistently now. The last occasion was for the town council by-election, where I received 537 votes, the Conservatives 304 and Birgitta, your Lib Dem running mate got 46. Therefore the only way to ensure the Conservatives do not get re-elected is to vote for Residents of Wilmslow.
Oliver Romain
Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 7:44 am
Mark: Maybe there are socialists in your ranks too, most people who have met your team believe them to be former Tories. So it seems you have an identity crisis. Or maybe an issue with vetting candidates or deciding where you stand. Or is it just potluck who you get? Its not enough just to say ROW has no shared values or policies.
Your official Manuel Golding was on this website furious the Little Bus Service which provides a lifeline to local disabled users should only exist if it is contracted out to privately owned companies. What kind of politics is that?
You are supporting illegal actions that led directly to criminal damage. Is that a 'good idea'?
You now make false claims about whether the Liberal Democrats have won elections in Wilmslow. I will stop at saying you are lying about Liberal Democrat election successes. Lets just say do some research before you make claims. I hope you will agree that is a 'good idea'.
Alan Brough
Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 11:42 am
Hi Oliver,

I share some of the widely aired concerns about the need to break the hold that Conservatives have at CE Council and indeed the way in which party political influences can filter down into local matters.

Over many years I've considered that Lib Dems might offer a substantial challenge to Conservatives in the area (particularly Wilmslow) but I can't recall this ever happening. I'm therefore interested to read your response to Mark Goldsmith where you assert that there HAVE been election successes for the Lib Dems in Wilmslow. Can you expand on this and advise if there really is a base to build on?

I recall that the excellent Craig Browne stood as a Lib Dem candidate in Wilmslow many years ago but subsequently went on to do great things as an independent candidate in Alderley Edge.
Oliver Romain
Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 12:21 pm
Alan Colin Shepherd, Pat Fearnley and Adrian Bradley have all served as Liberal Democrat councillors.
Mark is also wrong about the Town Council. It’s a five seat ward with only one ROW candidate and two Liberal Democrats opposing the Tories. Its not a binary choice. If people use all their votes, which I suggest they do, they can select candidates from all three parties.
Tory voters can choose to change the regular line up, by selecting one or more candidates from another party whIlst still voting Tory. This could be used to weed out those Tories with a poor work ethic or who publicly lend their support for building a controversial commuter car park in Hawthorn Lane Conservation Area for example.
The Liberal Democrat team have a fantastic set of candidates with experience of working with communities and can deliver better for Wilmslow.
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 10:44 pm
Oliver

I do not support "illegal activities". However, I do think in ONE instance, the risk of getting a £100 Parking Charge Notice warrants temporarily fixing a major traffic backspot. A road that Cheshire Police, Cheshire Highways, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Esther McVey MP, Wilmslow's CEC Councillors and Wilmslow Town Council have all said should be yellow lined immediately for safety reasons. You think this fine doesn't warrant the potential to save a life. We disagree on this. All the above bodies, who have not removed the cones also disagree with you. Readers who want more details on this subject can read my biography page on this site to find out more.

Voters on Wilmslow West do not have to make 5 votes for the town council elections. They may only vote for one candidate if they don't like any of the others.

I stand corrected regarding Wilmslow's Lib Dem's previous elections success though. I should have said - "No Lib Dem candidate has won in Wilmslow for over a decade" or "No Lib Dem candidate in Wilmslow has ever won a Cheshire East or Wilmslow Town Council election".

Also, while I do not currently live within Wilmslow West, I will be moving to Alma Lane over the summer months, which is on the ward.

I hope this clarifies things.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 25th April 2019 at 7:41 am
Mark you are clutching at straws and not being very clear. You clearly do support illegal activities. You have made this clear on several occasions. Your colleague Mr Golding is threatening more of ROW candidates are elected.
People will not be impressed with you telling us you are gracing us by moving here to your summer home for a few weeks. You either live here or you don’t. Although now you bring it up if you don’t live in the ward that means that both ROW borough candidates either do not live in the ward or are not willing to reveal where they live.
We all understand that ROW supports and also may be involved in illegal activity in this ward. Why don’t you take your cones and put them out in your own ward?
Real residents of this ward have to put up with dangerous parking every day. Vehicles blocking emergency access to dozens of homes. It’s a very real concern for people of Wilmslow and stunts like this and the criminal acts that follow do not help.
Don’t you understand that people feel intimidated and threatened because of these ROW supported vigilante actions? You can’t bully your way into the power you thirst.
And as for expecting people withholding four votes because they only like one candidate. Why would they do that? There will still be five councillors and they will not have influence over who the other four are. It’s not very likely or very democratic to suggest it is it?
Alan Brough
Thursday 25th April 2019 at 9:12 am
I think that the majority of fair-minded people will see the coning of Alderley Road as an act of public good, initiated to make safe a very dangerous situation. A lady had been struck by a car whilst trying to cross that section of road and there were regular near-misses and incidents of damage to vehicles.

The abject inability of CE Council to deal with the issue is the real crime. Cllr Menlove and others pointed repeatedly to having to conform to “Due Process” when quite patently that process was (is) broken, dangerous and unfit for purpose as it places the public it sets out to protect in considerable danger.

I find it slightly disconcerting that you (Oliver) don’t understand this wider issue of public good and seek to make political capital from the situation.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 25th April 2019 at 8:34 pm
Alan - you object to me putting up a few advisory notices about sickness from the river but then say that illegal cones and vigilante actions are warranted elsewhere.
You said ‘It’s about time people took more responsibility for their own safety and well-being and stopped trying to ascribe responsibility to others.’
Alderley Road already has controlled crossings one close to the URC. The only damage to a vehicle I have seen is by a vigilante who placed the cones on a vehicle.
ROW are threatening more illegal acts if they get elected. I am beginning to think this whole thing has been cooked up by ROW’s militant wing who want a pre-election fight with the Tories.
ROW does not own Wilmslow’s Roads. Wilmslow is a great town but this behaviour is a total embarrassment. The Tories are too scared to deal with it, they believe there is popular support for illegal actions. Not true.
This is not being done for Wilmslow it’s for ROW. It’s only political because ROW’s militant wing want to take the credit for the illegal act. The fact that the Tories took credit for it seems to be the issue that has really riled them.
So now ROW are recognised as party that who supports and threatens illegal acts and ignores the democratic process. Well done. The job has been done. I didn’t do this, they did. We all get it.
ROW are a fledgling political party only registered a few months ago. ROW has a very serious problem. Within a short space of time some of the more high profile officers such as Manuel Golding and Mark Goldsmith are bringing their party and Wilmslow into disrepute. ROW needs to clean up its act if it wants to attract decent candidates and improve its reputation.
Alan Brough
Thursday 25th April 2019 at 9:41 pm
Oliver,

I’m flattered that you have afforded me so much of your time and energy in penning your response.

However, it’s a little naughty to conflate an opinion I have offered over the river issue with another opinion offered regarding the coning of Alderley Road.

I have read the remarks posted by the candidates representing “Residents of Wilmslow” and I see nothing that points at the lawlessness you accuse them of and certainly no evidence of, or incitement toward the vigilantism that you mention.

Could it be that the pressure in the run-up to May 2nd is getting to you? I see rather a worrying tendency from you to engage in name-calling. I wouldn’t presume to offer advice other than to say that, from an undecided voters point of view, it’s not a good look!

I have little doubt that a simple straw poll of local people will prove to you that most support the use of cones in improving access and safety on that stretch of road.

You say that the only damage that you are aware of was that done to a car when a cone was placed on top. This suggests to me that you are clearly not keeping up. It has been well reported on this website that a lady leaving Kenmore Medical Centre was struck by a car whilst trying to cross the road. There have been several wing mirrors broken and a number of near misses witnessed.

Are we to suppose that you prefer to follow the lead of the Conservatives and fumble around with “Due Process” for a couple or three years - during which time perhaps a High School pupil or one of the many elderly residents living in the immediate area, or visiting the Medical Practice, is involved in a serious accident caused by a vehicle perhaps mounting the pavement to avoid oncoming traffic?
Mark Goldsmith
Friday 26th April 2019 at 9:17 am
Oliver

I cannot be more clearer. You are now willfully misinterpreting mine and RoW's position on this and are now trolling.

Therefore, I will no longer discuss this with you.
Oliver Romain
Friday 26th April 2019 at 4:38 pm
Roger and Damien: Regarding Autism and young people I can recommend anyone struggling with school, diagnosis etc to contact local charity http://www.visionbeyondautism.com. Its a fantastic charity run by parents of young adults on the Autistic Spectrum. They organise local one-to-one surgery sessions locally with an expert who can help with many areas either pre or post diagnosis. Children need proper support at primary school as it really helps when they go to High School. Its often the children in mainstream education who appear to be coping who need the support on the social side of learning. They can end up isolated and excluded.

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