A former West Swindon councillor has been selected to fight for the Shaw seat on Swindon Council in May.
She’ll be running for election after West Swindon Conservative Party chose her in preference to the sitting Conservative ward councillor Gary Perkins, Swindon Council’s current Cabinet Member for Economy, Regeneration and Culture.
At a selection meeting Mary, who lives in West Swindon, argued the area needs to be represented by people who live in the area. Garry, who has represented Shaw for over 10 years, lives in Liden.
Mary Martin represented Toothill for 12 years until boundary changes in 2012 incorporated the seat into a much larger area, taking in parts of Westlea and Western ward.
If elected Mary will join husband Nick, who has been representing wards in West Swindon wards since 1998, which have changed because of boundary changes. As this year’s Mayor he has been accompanied to many functions by Mary, who is a commercial director with Cap Gemini. Both their sons attended the former Salt Way Primary School and then Greendown Community School.
At an extraordinary meeting of Swindon Council on 19 December 2013 to debate a Labour motion of no confidence in the mayor, Garry was the only Conservative to vote against Nick remaining in the position. An amendment to the original motion was won 27 votes to 25 in support of the mayor.
Garry said: “There have been a series of incidents, accusations and pending investigations into Nick’s behaviour during his eight months as mayor. I felt that he should have voluntarily stepped down to prevent the office he holds being brought further into disrepute.. A line had been crossed and I believe Nick should have stepped down to preserve the integrity of the role.
“I’ve known him for 20 years but he’s changed in the last 7 or so years; I don’t what’s caused it but it’s disappointing his talents are being directed in the wrong way.”
The falling out between Nick and Garry has its roots in the controversial plan to build a skate park at Salt Way Fields in Middleleaze. Nick was lobbied for a skate provision by young people in the Shaw ward in early 2012 and proposals were discussed and endorsed by the West Swindon Forum which brings councillors representing the area with residents.
However, when a planning application was lodged in March 2103, residents of Spencer Close, on other side of Tewkesbury Way expressed their objections loudly.
Nick did not accept their view as the residents are separated from the proposed skate site by two thick hedgelines and a busy road. Garry said the West Swindon Forum needed to reconsider the Salt Way site. After several more discussions and a public consultation, the Forum agreed in January that the skate park should go to Rivermead, away from housing.
The vote of no confidence on 19 December was put after Labour councillors at an internal training meeting accused Nick of making derogatory remarks about people with learning difficulties. This earned the Mayor the annual Rotton Boroughs Political Correctness Award from Private Eye.
Garry is understood to have been selected to contest the seat in Haydon Wick ward freed up by Cllr Clare Ellis who will run in Old Town, where she lives.