Gilstead Seat in the Bingley Town Council Election

With the upcoming Gilstead seat at Bingley Town Council up for grabs, I wanted to share some information about the candidates. All three candidates have been contacted and I’ll keep updating this page as I get responses. I was thinking of standing myself, but after careful thought, I’m not going to stand this time due to family commitments, but will consider standing for another seat soon.

Helen Owen – Independent Candidate

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Briefly – Came to Bingley to train as a teacher at Bingley College. Stayed to work – taught in Bradford and Keighley Schools for almost 40 years.  Married, brought 3 daughters up, loved Bingley for amenities – schools, pool, library, parks, sports etc. Moved to Gilstead 2013. Early retirement 2014.

2. What is your role in Gilstead and what actions have you taken to date to improve this part of Bingley? And/or the wider Bingley area?

  • Became involved in Gilstead Village Society mainly through interest in campaign to stop development at Milnerfield. Worked with Downs family and Les Brook on campaign.
  • Elected Chair of GVS March 2017.
  • Projects I’ve lead since then:
  • Defibrillator project had stalled due to difficulties in finding site. Grant had been returned to Shipley Area Community Chest.
  • Worked with Rev Andrew Clarke to convince Diocese that Community Hall would be good site.
  • Wrote Grant Applications to BTC and Shipley Area Committee, found extra funding from Bingley-Airedale Rotary. Arranged volunteers to build frame and install.
  • Result- Defibrillator installed by November 2017. Two training sessions since held in ‘how to use and CPR’ for residents.

Charity events: 

  • Margaret McMillan Coffee Morning held with GVS 1/2 Yearly Meeting – over £200 raised
  • Senior Citizens 12th Night Social. Afternoon tea and entertainment provided ( all by volunteers and local businesses)
  • Residents of Independent Living Facilities – Maple, Sutton, Aire Valley Courts, Fern House and Gilstead residents attended. I had to promise we will do this again next year.

Fund Raising: 

  • Stalls at Bingley Easter Fair, Christmas Fair, Prince of Wales Park ‘ Right Royal Do’, Eldwick Gala.
  • Festive Food Cookery Demonstration with Kevin Connor, Executive Chef at Bankfied Mercure.
  • Over £1000 raised from all.
  • Maintenance of planters on Gilstead Lane and Rec, bedding plants for summer and bulbs for spring. Rota organised.
  • Walk – in the footsteps of Sir Fred Hoyle – in conjunction with Bingley Walkers are Welcome.
  • Although I have lead on these events, none could happen without a great Committee and willing volunteers.
  • New members and volunteers are most welcome!

Other community activities:

  • I’m a active member of Five Rise Frocks Bingley W.I. and support their efforts and campaigns whenever possible.
  • Witness Support Volunteer at Bradford Crown and Magistrates Court.
  • Fundraising for Breast Cancer Haven Leeds.
  • Edit BTC Quarterly Newsletter – co-opted to Events and Marketing Committee.
  • Neighbourhood Plan Working Group – co-opted member. Developing a future plan for Bingley, considering all major aspects of town development.

3. If elected what would you do to improve Bingley?

Current projects with GVS:

  • Looking for answers to bus problem ( lack of!) Gilstead and Eldwick. Working with Eldwick, V.S. Cottingley Assoc and Crossflatts, persuading District Councillors and First Bus to engage.
  • Exploring and consulting on ways to improve Nature Walk at ‘Rec’. Taking advice on grant sources, methods, improving access and interest in area.
  • Plans to erect a War Memorial to Gilstead Soldiers outside St Wilfrid’s for November 2018.

Bingley – areas of concern for residents seem to be – policing: car thefts and burglary.

  • I’m sure that Neighbourhood Watch Schemes in Gilstead and Bingley generally could be improved and am very willing to work on this.
  • Traffic issues and road safety are a concern –
  • e.g. zebra crossing needed by Co-op car park .
  • speeding on bypass and on Park Road in particular
  • Liaison and consultation with Police and BMDC already take place, but as residents have become more aware that Bingley Town Council exists, more is expected of the Council and rightly so.
  • Neighbourhood Plan Working Group: I’m really concerned  about  protecting the Green Belt and making sure that housing development meets the needs of the Town.
  • Amenities which I took for granted when my children were growing up are under threat, e.g. the Swimming Pool and Myrtle Park and I will work to retain and improve these.

Other community groups should be encouraged to apply for grants and be helped through this process to ensure that a wide range of activities and interests is available to residents. I believe I can work well with Community Groups (like Bingley Mums) to provide advice and practical support.

4. Why should we vote for you?

  • As an Independent candidate I don’t have to follow a party line, but can truly represent the views of the electors.
  • I’ve seen that the Independent Councillors collaborate and cooperate and are always willing to ‘crack on’ with the job. They attend meetings, discuss matters and vote on issues. I believe that I am able to support this ‘can do’ approach and be an effective voice for residents.
  • I’m approachable, practical, a good listener and; although I like to find solutions to problems,  I am also realistic enough to know that there isn’t always always a quick fix.
  • I really value discussion and dialogue and don’t believe I have all the answers.
  • I’m not a politician, just a concerned citizen who loves her adopted home town and I am willing to work hard for the future of Bingley.

Stephen Williams- Conservative Candidate

1.       Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a local Bingley resident and have been for over 25 years. I’m a father of three grown up girls who have children of their own now so I’m very much a family man. My business background was corporate, and I’m now retired and want to give back to the local communities. I have been a Conservative all my life and have conservative views on pretty much every topic as one might expect. I’ve been a member of the party for about 6 years now and have supported Philip Davies in his last two election campaigns though leafletting and doorstep canvassing, as well as the three Conservative District Councillor in their campaigns too, so I know Bingley and surrounding areas well.

 As an individual I am business focused, and think in terms of money, value for money, worth, and similar.

 2.       What is your role in Gilstead and what actions have you taken to date to improve this part of Bingley? And/or the wider Bingley area?

As I mentioned above the primary focus of my role in Gilstead has been to support the efforts of the District Councillors and our MP in their efforts to improve life in the whole Bingley area over several years now.

 I am seconded to the Town Council’s Neighbourhood Plan Committee. When the Plan is complete it will allow Bingley to steer and shape the development of the town towards the way the residents want it to look over the next 20 years. The Neighbourhood Plan will also facilitate a greater proportion of development funding to be allocated directly to Bingley Town which must be better for all of us. This is a two year task so a commitment not to be taken lightly.

I’m currently Chair of the Bingley Town Conservative group which is a group of likeminded people that collectively fund raise and support and influence our Councillors and MP to achieve better things for Bingley by lobbying BDMC and our Parliament.

 3.       If elected what would you do to improve Bingley?

Residents in Gilstead Ward have told me of their current issues, and these are:

 ·         that theft from cars, houses and sheds are a growing problem across Gilstead. Speeding along Gilstead Lane and Warren Lane is also an important issue. Also, there are problems with cars parking near Eldwick School and at the top of Swan Avenue. On both these issues I will develop close working relationships with our local police officers and encourage community crime prevention initiatives.

·         that there are difficulties for local residents crossing Gilstead Lane to get across to the recreation ground from the Post Office side which looks at a blind corner. I’ll support the call for some form of pedestrian crossing there to the benefit of both the older and younger generations.

·         that there are constant complaints from residents and sports groups about dog fouling which needs addressing. There is also a need to improve facilities and make better use of the nature trails perhaps with better signage and promotion

·         about the local campaign for consideration to be given to a new type of service using small hopper buses that would connect Eldwick & Gilstead with Bingley, Cottingley and Micklethwaite.

So, I will campaign and attempt to resolve these issues for residents and others as they arise. In doing so I will not be litter collecting or picking up dog fouling myself as I don’t believe I am elected to provide additional volunteer services for these sorts of issues but instead I’ll campaign for the Town Council to press and represent to BDMC to try to ensure that they provide the services that we already pay for in these subject areas.

 As a general view I believe our Town Council should be operated in a ‘lean and mean’ fashion commensurate with its lawful function.

 I will continue to develop the Neighbour Plan in cooperation with friends and colleagues from Bingley and join whichever sub-committee I can be of most use to but most certainly the Finances and General Purpose one.

 4.       Why should we vote for you?

It’s interesting to note that this is an election for Gilstead Ward which is effectively just a red line on a map enclosing a given number of voters and not Gilstead Village. So, if I were to ask residents of Swan Avenue if they live in Eldwick or Gilstead, what might their reply be? The answer is ‘neither, we live in Swan Avenue‘. I know this as we have asked the question. A similar response would be got from residents of Crosley View or Agincourt Drive for sure. The skill is in getting to understand the issues of the whole ward and representing those issues on the Council as a representative of the constituency and not to act as the sole arbiter of decisions and self-views. That isn’t representing people at all.

 As a Conservative I don’t have to follow party lines (as there aren’t any relevant to local issues) however it is very useful to gain the wider view of likeminded people and other elected officers to the bigger topics, such as the incinerator, Milner Fields or Sty Lane. In this respect having a group to provide support can be very useful to the Council.

 I’m not sure I buy into the belief that anyone is truly ‘independent’ as everyone has political leanings that make them who they are. I simply wear a badge of honour so that voters will knows the way I think and might act.

 I firmly believe that we should not simply introduce another layer of governing bureaucracy that needs to be funded by you, the rate payer, but yet a local Council can be a force for good in any town.  There are many examples of local town or parish councils racking up debt that cannot be afforded by their town and the thrust of our Town Council should be to ensure that Bingley is allocated the correct and appropriate measured services we pay for in our Council Tax, and that is pretty much it.

 The precept for local services should be as low as possible given the above viewpoint and, in my opinion, all Councillors should display conservative views and spend money like it was their own.

 Having said that I’ll work with all the other Councillors, no matter what colour or flag they fly to achieve the aims and wishes of my electors.

Paula Parkinson – Labour Candidate

Paula Parkinson – Labour Party Candidate

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have two daughters, who both go to school in Bingley.   Myself, I grew up in Bingley, went to St Joseph’s Primary School and called Bingley home for about 20 years before I moved away.  I came back about 12 years ago, remembering Bingley as an ideal place to grow up, with its surrounding hills and countryside, library, swimming baths, pubs, shops, arts centre and brilliant buses and trains.


Bingley’s been great and I especially appreciated the post-natal group at the little house and playgroups at the old Scout hut, so vital for getting out of the house with young children!  When the girls were younger, I was lucky enough to be able to work part-time and enjoy them growing up.   I now work full-time but have the support of friends and family, including a partner who is semi-retired – lucky him!

  1. What is your role in Gilstead and what actions have you taken to date to improve this part of Bingley? And/or the wider Bingley area?

Until lately, I never thought of Bingley as needing improvement and I still think it’s a pretty great place to live and bring up children. That said, I realise that much of what’s good about Bingley now (and then) happens because of people volunteering. Again, in Bingley, many of us are fortunate to have free time that we can choose to spend volunteering.  As it happened, much of my free time was spent in Hebden Bridge (long story!) where I was proud to volunteer at the Trades Club, a small community music venue, and serve as its treasurer for four years.

Recently now I’m back in Bingley full-time, I’ve become more involved in the local Labour party, working mainly behind the scenes helping new members take part and organise fundraising and social events.  As well as campaigning in national and local elections, the Labour Party does a lot of community organising.  This is often working with local groups to strengthen their voice and secure funding.  A good example is the work done to keep Bingley Youth café open, as well as working with other Town Councillors to keep the Bingley town centre loos open.

  1. If elected what would you do to improve Bingley?

Bingley’s a great place and if I’m honest, I’d probably like even more people to know that.  So I’d be doing things that promoted Bingley as a place to live and work and visit.  Gilstead itself is an enchanting place, with its views over Bingley, but on the edge of the beautiful, historic countryside of Milner fields. Easy access to Eldwick Beck, Baildon Moor and Shipley Glen.

At the moment, the key priority for Bingley must be to hang onto and save the things that it has.  The efforts of volunteers have saved Bingley Arts Centre and now we must do the same for the swimming pool, library and parks.  I would work with other Town Councillors and Labour district councillors in Bradford to save these facilities for our children and their children to enjoy.

  1. Why should we vote for you?

I’m proud to stand in this election as your Labour candidate.

If you believe in common sense and decisions being made locally, then vote for me.

If you want to see a better Bingley that we’ve all worked together to achieve, then vote for me.

If you share my Labour values and believe organisations, even small ones like Town Councils should be for the many, not the few, then vote for me.

On top of that, I have ten years’ experience of working in local government as well as experience of working in voluntary community organisations.  I want to do this for Bingley and for you.








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