THE candidates who are standing for the Malvern Hills District Council vacancy in the Wells ward this week share their thoughts with the Gazette's readers.

The election, on Thursday, August 7, has been called following the death of Cllr Chris Cheeseman last month.

Five candidates, four representing political parties and one independent, are contesting the seat.

Christopher Roland Burrows (Labour Party).

As a local teacher and resident of Malvern I would like your support and vote on August 7. I want to represent you in OUR district council, and not just the wishes of the few. I will cut down on wasted time at council meetings, and get on with the job of serving you as a councillor. I will fight against cuts which leave Malvern Wells rurally isolated such as those against buses, local education, adult services, elderly care and ensure that planning applications are properly scrutinised. As a 'safe seat' you get the same old. On the 7th you could make a big difference in Malvern Wells by voting Labour.

Louise Gibson (Independent).

My sole concern is to prevent the overdevelopment of Malvern Wells. The Prime Minister has given public assurances that Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will remain protected, that housing estates will not be “plonked” on the edge of villages against local opposition and developments shouldn't exceed 30 houses. The proposed developments - Rothwell Road (43 houses) and Wood Farm Road (184 houses) - are clearly unsustainable. Worse, this could set a dangerous precedent for further developments. Malvern Wells lacks the infrastructure to support this increased population and road traffic. We need to act now to protect the village's identity.

Simon Winfield Gill (Liberal Democrat).

Simon Gill is an IT engineer employed at a large technology company in Malvern who has lived in the ward for the past six years. He grew up in army bases across the UK and Europe, but has now settled in Malvern. The youngest candidate at 31, Simon says: “I want to bring a fresh face and some new life into the council. I believe that councillors should work for all the people they represent - regardless of their political views. I will work with local people to ensure that Malvern Wells continues to be a thriving community and is supported by good bus routes, safe roads and protected green spaces.”

Chris O’Donnell (Conservative Party).

Chris O’Donnell is the Conservative candidate for the Wells ward by-election. Chris is a retired teacher, who taught at Malvern Wells Primary School, and a local businesswoman. She has lived in Malvern Wells with her family for over 34 years and been a parish councillor for six years. Chris said: “I’m proud to have been involved in local projects including improvements to Assarts Play Park and the new Christmas tree for Fruitlands. I’ve also had the privilege of teaching children in Malvern Wells and watching them flourish. I intend to carry on this work at district and be a strong local voice for Malvern Wells.

Richard Spencer (UK Independence Party).

I am a Malvern-born, 58-year-old, retired water distribution engineer. I am alarmed at the destruction of our area’s green spaces by our Conservative-controlled council in its slavish adherence to a one size fits all national planning policy. The lifeblood of this area is tourism and farming. Neither will be helped by concreting over our countryside. How many tourists will come, if we allow this area’s essential character to be destroyed? Let’s face it, the management of our district council is a shambles, stumbling along from one dubious decision to the next. It's time for a change!