Trio step up as Sidmouth Town Council hopefuls

Town council candidate Matt Booth

Town council candidate Matt Booth - Credit: Archant

A trio of community-minded citizens are ‘answering a call to action’ and standing as civic representatives when Sidmouth goes to the ballot box in May.

Town council candidate Louise Cole

Town council candidate Louise Cole - Credit: Archant

Matt Booth and Louise Cole are best known for their campaign to reopen the Drill Hall, but are now turning their attention to the rest of the town.

NHS manager Sarah Green completes the trio who, alongside shopkeeper Marc Kilsbie, are looking to bring fresh ideas to Sidmouth Town Council.

“We are responding to Marc’s call to action,” said Matt, a father-of-one.

“There are more and more people interested in standing in Sidmouth.”

Town council candidate Sarah Green

Town council candidate Sarah Green - Credit: Archant

Matt has been involved a long-running battle to reopen the Drill Hall with East Devon District Council – where he also hopes to claim a seat.

“I see the Drill Hall as representative of how I feel about Sidmouth – we need to think much more innovatively about the future,” he said.

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“There’s so much to offer that’s not being tapped into.

“We cannot keep trying to sell Sidmouth to young people or families as the Regency town by the sea – it’s not exciting to them. We need things that will contribute to Sidmouth – not just now but in the future.”

The 47-year-old would bring a background as a freelance consultant in the arts and public sector, in which he has secured multi-million pound contracts and worked on major festivals and the Olympics.

He helped establish the Drill Hall as a community interest company (CIC) to ensure that any future profits are used for the benefit the town.

“We have to think about making history,” said Matt, a Temple Street resident originally from Stroud. “We need to tap into the resources of the town, in the schools and in the older generations.”

He organised May’s Sea Fest to celebrate and preserve the town’s fishing heritage and hopes Sidmouth can build a full programme of events through to FolkWeek and October’s science festival. Louise Cole is the director of a social enterprise that supports young deaf children and has spent her professional life in community development and inclusiveness.

She lives in Winslade Road with her husband and three children, with her parents close by, so has an insight across generations.

Despite her many responsibilities, she has decided to make time for public service, arguing the council needs to ‘break the mould’ of being run by retired people.

“I’ve lived in Sidmouth for 10 years and there’s inertia – I came to think we could do things differently,” said the 46-year-old. “We need new people to re-energise the council.

“I respect everyone who stands for public office, but Sidmouth needs a town council that reflects the community and listens to the diverse views of the town.

“We’re in a time where there’s a pervasive discontent with a lack of transparency – we need to have very open discussion.

She said that the town council needs to listen to young people on how it wants the youth centre to be run now that it has secured its future.

“I have a 15-year-old but it feels unlikely that her future would be in Sidmouth,” Louise added. “I would like it to be a vibrant place with employment opportunities.”

She is also a trustee of the Drill Hall CIC and said: “We need the Drill Hall – it will pull people into Sidmouth. We need as many interesting opportunities as possible.”

Sarah Green is a mum-of-two who was nominated as one of the Herald’s healthcare heroes.

She trained as a bladder and bowel specialist and is now a manager in the NHS. Her more stable hours have given her the chance to stand for a sear on the town council.

“I decided to stand because I would like to become more involved in the decisions made around Sidmouth,” said the Lymebourne Park resident. “It’s the best time I could be standing. I grew up in a small town in Cornwall where people did get involved in the community. The longer I’ve stayed here the more I have felt it is only a small group with a say on what happens. I would like to be a part of that.”

Sarah has a brother with learning difficulties and said: “I’m concerned about the lack of amenities for people of that group. I have a skill set that could be useful.”

Sarah, 47, describes herself as a nature lover and dog walker – ‘both important in Sidmouth’ – and said she also wants to increase the offering for young families.

“I want to make Sidmouth more vibrant – I don’t want to change the fabric of the town,” she added.