Ahead of the Canterbury North by-election for Kent County Council on November 15, the Journal invited each of the six candidates to submit a contribution. Here Rob Thomas, the Conservative candidate, shares his thoughts
When asked what I can offer to Kent County Council my reply is simple: I will stay true to my political beliefs; bring a history of working with the local community; and work tirelessly to get a new hospital in Canterbury.
My political beliefs are that of personal freedom, small government, and fair taxation.
The government should only get involved when necessary. It shouldn’t have a say in how you live your life. Unless you’re harming others, you should be left to get on with living the way you want to.
I also think you should be able to keep more of your own money. It’s better for local families, and for the wider community. And you know how to spend the money you earn better than the government.
Of course, we all have a collective responsibility to ensure people who need our help get the support they deserve. We also need to ensure communities get the services they need.
I was elected to Canterbury City Council in 2011. Since then I’ve led a number of groups supporting improvements within the district.
One example was the working group set up to identify ways for the council to generate income to support existing services.
It was a demonstration of local politicians, residents, and businesses, working together to get things done. Altogether the group came back with more than 200 ideas.
I’ve also served as the council’s representative to the board of Active Life. We’re close to finalising a new lease with the council, which will see £11m of investment into redeveloped centres.
These are exciting plans, and will provide centres of health and wellbeing for people across the district.
But while that’s at a city level, the challenges facing those elected to KCC are much different.
I share the view with many people that the priority for the district is the future of health care services. That means having a first class hospital with an A&E and specialist services in Canterbury.
It’s sad to see the NHS so often turned into a divisive subject. Residents are better served when politicians work together to co-ordinate, fund, and deliver services.
Not only do I want the best services, and the best staff to be in Canterbury, I also want to make sure mental health services and adult social care are given the support they need.
And I’m a big believer that local government can help deliver solutions when it works effectively with others.
There are so many groups and organisations making our lives better, they should be encouraged to continue to grow.
I learned how effective they are as a volunteer for the RSPCA, helping fundraise for a new animal centre in Hersden.
But also working with groups to set up the Canterbury District Heritage Forum to safeguard our history, and East Kent Parks Forum to protect our open spaces.
I’ll continue to support those groups. But also the parish councils, and local residents who actively find solutions to local problems.
That’s what I can offer KCC, and more importantly to the people of the district.
Rob Thomas represents the rural Chartham and Stone Street ward at Canterbury City Council and works as the finance manager for Chaucer College in Canterbury
Click the links below to read the contributions by the other five candidates:
- Public ownership is the means to improving people’s lives
- Garden of England is becoming more like the Patio of England
- Voters are being let down by the main political parties
- Paradise lost: the story of childhood garden in Canterbury
- Unless we act, the impact of climate change will be felt hard in Canterbury