COMMUNITY spirit is very strong within the Old Town ward, something any new councillor to the area will want to consider when they take their seat later this month.

Whether it is residents uniting over an important political issue or coming together to make the new community centre a success, people in Old Town care about where they live.

Whoever wins the Old Town seat up for grabs at the local election next Thursday will need to work with the community if they are to be successful.

Christchurch vicar Simon Stevenette says it is important that work continues to be carried out, and in a time when budgets are being stretched, the vulnerable within Old Town are not forgotten.

He said: “I think what is most important is the overall wellbeing of people in these difficult economic times. We all know money is tight so it is important the council make it count.

“There is a vibrant community in Old Town which is one of the reasons why me and my family love living here.

“Old Town has a large number of elderly people living on their own so we need to make sure they are not forgotten, so I would like to see any councillor make this an important priority.”

Rev Stevenette also believes the new councillor could push for creating more for the youth of Old Town to do as well as addressing concerns about the Croft playing field.

He said: “The area could benefit from more facilities for young people. The community centre has performed the function for groups but possibly there could be more in Old Town generally.

“Many residents also fear the Croft Playing Fields could be developed so many would like to see the councillor working to ensure that remains a public space.”

There are worries about the potential for future development on the site, and residents group the Piper’s Area Residents’ Association wants all councillors to ensure they will do what they can to safeguard its future.

At the local elections in 2012 Old Town proved to be one of the tightest battles, with the Conservatives taking two seats and Labour the other. However, no candidate dominated with several others not far behind.

Two years ago there were 14 candidates for voters to choose from, whereas this time there are just four so it promises to be a close battle.


Claire ELLIS (Conservative)

Deborah KING (Liberal Democrat)

John SHORT (UK Independence Party)

Nadine WATTS (Labour)

Turnout in 2012 election: 35 per cent (7279)

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