Hayling election candidate steps down after residents ‘stunned’ he does not live on the island
A CONSERVATIVE who left voters ‘genuinely offended’ by standing in a ward where he does not live has pulled out of the local election in May.
Campaigners have welcomed Martin Box’s decision to withdraw his candidacy for Hayling West after its constituents aired concerns over the fact he lives in Havant.
Tory rules do not state candidates must live in their ward but Mr Box’s ability to address Hayling Island issues came under fire after he was first named on December 10.
His candidacy thrust council boss Michael Wilson’s leadership into uncertainty when it was revealed he himself had failed to secure selection in Hayling West, his own ward.
But Mike Fairhurst, the chairman of the Havant Conservative Association, confirmed yesterday Mr Box has now stepped down as a party candidate.
Dave Parham, chairman of the Save Our Island action group, said: 'We were stunned that the leader of the council was deselected initially for a candidate who did not live on Hayling Island.
'We are now happy the selection process is being re-run so an experienced Hayling Islander can be selected this time around.’
In December, the Havant Conservative Association’s deputy political chairwoman, Jackie Branson, told The News Mr Fox ‘fully intends on living on Hayling' if he is elected.
But campaigner Mark Coates said residents were ‘genuinely offended’ and slammed the association for ‘parachuting in people with little experience’ of problems on Hayling – which include the capacity of the arterial A3023 and the 942 homes outlined in the Local Plan.
Current Hayling East councillor, Clare Satchwell, has revealed she will now make a swoop for the seat in her neighbouring ward, despite failing to be selected there last year.
She said: ‘In light of full council last week, it is clear there is much work to be done and, now there is a potential opportunity, I will be putting myself forward and doing everything I can to be the chosen candidate.'
Anne Skennerton, chairwoman of the Hayling Island Residents' Association, said few people ‘knew who who Martin Box was’ when he was announced and added ‘many would be pleased’ by the news of Cllr Satchwell’s renewed attempt to stand.
On Mr Box standing down, Mr Fairhurst said: ‘It is not unheard of for people to withdraw at this stage and he has. We have a few more candidates on the list.’
As previously reported, Havant Borough Council leader Michael Wilson has secured a place to stand in Hayling East at the local elections in May.
Mr Fairhurst was not able to say why Mr Box stepped down and Mr Box last night declined to comment when contacted by The News.