Uttlesford council leader’s seat targeted by chairman of campaign group WeAreResidents.org

John Lodge and Dan Starr

John Lodge and Dan Starr - Credit: Archant

Uttlesford District Council leader Howard Rolfe is to face stiff competition to secure a seat at the next election – following the announcement that the chairman of a prominent residents’ campaign group will go head-to-head with him.

Dan Starr, chairman of WeAreResidents.org, will stand for Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) in the ward of Ashdon at May’s election.

He said: “I look forward to serving the needs of only locals if elected by the residents of the Ashdon ward.

“Our villages rely on the surrounding towns for many things. The expansion of Saffron Walden was forced through with scant regard for the needs of the nearby villages.”

Mr Starr also went on to criticise the council’s failure on assisting with health and education needs in Uttlesford.

“Poor planning by the district council means that families have to compete for school places, it is hard to get doctors’ appointments, and Ashdon ward residents are disproportionally stuck in traffic as they try to access services in Saffron Walden,” he added.

“It is about time someone represented their interests rather than those of national parties, and I will do that.”

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R4U party chair Cllr John Lodge made the claim that Cllr Rolfe had become “unelectable” in his existing Saffron Walden ward because of controversies over housing applications, a suggestion vehemently denied by the council leader.

Cllr Lodge added: “So now he has been parachuted into a safer seat, forcing out a new local candidate.

“Residents don’t want their villages damaged or a party-political refugee; they want a councillor who will actually represent them. So we need to defend the ‘residents right to decide’ in this ward.

“As founder of WeAreResidents.org, Dan Starr is the strongest leader for residents’ causes and we are excited to have selected him.”

The Uttlesford District ward of Ashdon includes the parishes of Ashdon, Hadstock and Sewards End.

Cllr Rolfe responded to what Cllr Lodge had said with raised eyebrows but welcomed Mr Starr’s challenge.

“I’m surprised to hear Cllr Lodge’s comments – I don’t believe he has helped Mr Starr by launching a personal campaign,” he said.

“I intend to concentrate on the serious issues that affect the residents of Ashdon ward and look forward to a professional election contest.”