We profile the eight candidates running to become Burnham-On-Sea’s next MP at the General Election on Thursday May 7th:
Tessa Munt: Liberal Democrat
Tessa Munt’s grandfather inspired her to become an member of Parliament when he told her that she could ‘change the world’.
Before becoming Burnham’s MP in 2010, she’d had 31 years of ‘real life experience’, with a range of jobs and she also raised a family.
Since being elected MP, she says she’s worked full time and seized the opportunities of coalition and embraced the unique challenges of representing people in the constituency.
“People should vote for me because I can offer everything for them in terms of dedication and service – I absolutely adore working for people in this area and there’s so much that still needs to be done,” she told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
James Heappey: Conservative
James Heappey grew up in Nailsea and now lives with his wife and young family in Axbridge.
Before entering politics, he had a career in the army seeing active service in Iraq, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.
He left as a Major in 2012 and worked briefly in Parliament before returning to Somerset as a consultant, alongside campaigning for the General Election.
Since being chosen, James has campaigned on issues including improved road safety on the A38, inappropriate solar farms and wind turbines, bathing water quality in Burnham, tidal energy schemes in the Severn Estuary and putting pylons from Hinkley Point under the sea.
Chris Inchley: Labour
Chris is originally from Shepton Mallet and studied for a vocational qualification at Norton Radstock Technical College. He works as a gardener.
He is a town and district councillor and has 20 years experience representing Shepton Mallet.
Chris believes that employment does not pay well enough for too many people, and he says he’d strive to make housing more affordable, tackle the low-skill low-wage economy and attract investment into the Wells constituency with enhanced in-work training and educational opportunities.
Chris also wants to work towards a higher minimum wage and more widely available free childcare provision. He will vote to end compulsory competition in the NHS.
Jon Cousins: Green
Jon is a Glastonbury councillor and chair of Avalon Community Energy. He is also a practitioner with the Cabinet Office’s Community Organisers Programme, and is a co-operative development advisor in the South West.
He is passionate about the environment and also fair trade for British farmers, and believes in a living-wage for all.
A committed community campaigner, he has raised thousands of pounds for local projects, and is standing for the common good, protecting the NHS, libraries and public transport.
He says: “The time for tactical voting’s over – for voting ‘against’ what we don’t like. Now’s the time to vote with your heart for what you truly believe in.”
Helen Hims: UKIP
Helen has lived in the Wells constituency for 20 years with her husband and four children and runs a family business in Shipham.
She believes that Government has become too remote and that local issues can be overlooked or underfunded, including the improvement of infrastructure and communications, supporting the growth of local industry and tourism and local housing and services.
Helen believes that UKIP has increasingly led the way in British politics, forcing the old parties to confront issues they would much rather have avoided. As an MP she wants to hold the government to account on local people’s behalf.
Gypsy Watkins: Independent
Highbridge singer Gyspsy Watkins says she wants to become ‘the voice of local people’.
Gypsy Watkins, who is well known locally for her impressive singing performances and distinctive hairstyle, is running as an independent candidate.
Gypsy, a singer by profession, a company director and a mum of three, says she offers a completely different alternative to traditional party politics.
“I am a straight talking person who stands up for the rights of all people,” she told Burnham-On-Sea.com. “We need someone who is passionate about the real needs of the people of Somerset. There needs to be a move away from the traditional ways by the established political parties.”
Dave Dobbs: Birthday Party
Dave was the final person to sign up to take part in this year’s General Election in the Wells constituency.
A colourful writer, puppeteer and former mechanic, he unveiled a self-published novel called Laughing Gas – written under his real name David Field – several years ago.
He stood for the Bristol Mayor role in 2012 and received less than 0.5 per cent of the vote where one of his key manifetso pledges was to let people vote on every issue via social media. He published a video here earlier this year outlining some of his views.
Paul Arnold: Independent
Paul is a private investigator who lives in East Brent and is standing as an independent candidate. He says that he’s grown frustrated after MPs failed to provide a ‘broad explanation of the Trading Schemes Act 1996, and which trading schemes are covered by that act’. He says the legislation cost him a previous business he was running.