WHITEHILL & Bordon Community Party leader Andy Tree has thrown his hat in the ring to contest the town’s Hampshire County Council seat on May 6 – telling voters he will “never shy away from fighting your corner if I feel Whitehill, Bordon or Lindford is being short-changed”.

Cllr Tree founded the Whitehill & Bordon Community Party in 2017 to “better represent residents”, and led the party to victory at the May 2019 town council elections in Whitehill & Bordon.

Now campaigning for the Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford county seat, his focus is on “improving communication between the county and the town and parish councils”.

Cllr Tree added: “With so much focus on national politics relating to the Covid-19 response, I want to ensure local issues are not forgotten.

“I just can’t sit back and leave it to the local politicians to represent us properly.”

A married father-of-four, Cllr Tree has lived in Lindford since 2010 and before that in Bordon. He created his first financial services business aged 24 from his maisonette spare room in Kildare Close, later building a national accountancy firm.

He continued: “I won’t take orders from the Hampshire County Council Conservative leader – from Brockenhurst – or the Liberal Democrat group leader from Eastleigh!

“If elected, my only ‘boss’ will be the people of Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford.

“I will always put my fellow residents before any national party policy.”

Cllr Tree’s announcement means at least three currently-serving councillors are set to battle it out for the Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford county council seat on May 6

Tory councillor Phillip Davies, the current district councillor for Whitehill & Bordon, was the first to announce his county council bid last October, while Lib Dem district representative for Lindford Cllr Neville Taylor has announced his candidacy online.

In contrast, Cllr Tree waited until the day before the final list of election candidates is to be published tomorrow (Friday) to announce his candidacy through the pages of the Herald.

And he said being elected county councillor for Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford on May 6 will “greatly help me in my work as town council leader, to represent my fellow residents at both levels effectively”.

He said: “Over the years, I have contributed towards many positives locally, including fighting for the new six-lane swimming pool back in 2014, which opened last year, and fighting for a proper additional supermarket, which we are awaiting an announcement for this May.

“The town council, under my leadership, is protecting valuable green spaces under our control, which includes Bordon Inclosure and Deadwater Valley Nature Reserve.

“I first got involved with local issues when the rail-link bus was abolished as I want to see proper public transport. Since becoming town council leader in May 2019, we have hosted many public meetings with those ‘in power’ such as the regeneration company, police and NHS, to ensure there is better communication with residents.”

Cllr Tree also criticised the Lib Dems locally for petty political “point scoring” and the Tories for “telling us everything is perfect... despite the damning EHDC ‘conduct report’ and town-centre delays”.

He added: “I fully appreciate Covid-19 is a legitimate and understandable reason for some delays such as the proposed cinema. But it cannot be an excuse for absolutely everything such as Chase Hospital and lack of public transport. Both those issues have been ongoing for many years.”

Tina Strickland, deputy leader of the Whitehill & Bordon Community Party, said: “My admiration for Andy Tree has grown from getting to know him through his community work to putting myself forward to supporting him as deputy leader of our group. From my own experience, his tireless efforts and public service are unparalleled locally.”

Two candidates have so far come forward to contest Cllr Floss Mitchell’s former county council seat in Liphook, Headley and Grayshott: Debbie Curnow-Ford, a serving Tory Bramshott & Liphook parish councillor, and Alison Glasspool for the Lib Dems.