With the county council by-election for Totteridge and Bowerdean fast approaching, the four candidates have outlined what their main priorities will be for the area if they are elected.

The by-election was announced following the death of councillor Chaudhary Ditta in November last year, who represented the ward for 14 years.

Matt Knight (East Wycombe Independent), Ben James Holkham (Liberal Democrat), Richard David Peters (Conservative) and Israr Rashid (Labour) are all set to stand for the seat.

Richard Peters

What makes me a good candidate to represent Totteridge and Bowerdean?  I have a genuine passion for the community and a local reputation built through over 20 years of volunteering.

I have been involved in countless community projects with St Andrew’s church in Hatters Lane, taking leadership roles in social action events, children’s holiday clubs, and youth clubs.

I am currently a trustee of two charities and have supported the setup of many others.  If you think we need politicians with real life experience addressing community issues, this is something I bring.

One of my strengths is bringing people together with different backgrounds, beliefs and political views for the common good.  I am privileged to have friends and colleagues with whom I can debate a wide range of different social, religious and political issues.

We learn from each other and seek to disagree well.  Government faces many challenges, more difficult to solve than protestors’ slogans might suggest.  If you value politicians who listen and engage with issues constructively, try lending me your vote.

My work to help keep the East Side Youth Centre open by starting a new charity was a major factor in bringing me to politics.  Politicians have increasing demands on the money they collect from us in tax.  Whether or not you think we should “tax and spend” more, there is an increasing need for government and charity to work well together.  I am well placed to strengthen those working relationships.

I have built my own company; we are world leaders in lift simulation.   It is my moral responsibility to give back to society over and above the taxes I pay.

Whatever happens in local politics, this will not change.  If you would like me to bring my experience to local government, please consider voting for me.

Matt Knight

This by- election was called following the sad death of my friend and colleague East Wycombe Independent councillor, Chaudhary Ditta. I met Chaudhary in 2005 when he was first elected to the county council. He and Cllr Julia Wassell worked with me and other local residents to save Micklefield Library.

Through that campaign I learned that if you bring together passionate residents who want to bring positive change with skilled, committed and hard-working councillors you can achieve great things. It is this experience which led me to seek election as a district councillor in 2011.

As a group of independent councillors and community activists we are working all the year round. Our first priority is to get results for local residents on the matters they report to us. We work to the promises in our manifesto and apply for funding and other opportunities for residents wherever possible.

We take pride in the achievement of residents and we are there for you, not for distant political leaders who have caused disillusion with politics. Residents have paid their taxes, but  have seen public services funding reduced by 60% since 2011.

Most residents will be aware that we are active all year round not just before elections. As well as contributing to council meetings through asking challenging questions and contributing creative ideas, we are very active in the community. We organise community clear ups, work with many local residents to resolve concerns about their area, problems with welfare benefits, access to services and other issues.

To summarise, you should vote for me because I am the candidate with the most relevant experience, the most positive track record and the only one who is already working with residents to bring improvements in Totteridge and Bowerdean.

I am proud to be selected by Chaudary Ditta’s family to contest his seat and pledge to complete the work he started for the remaining year of his term.

Ben Holkham

It has been great to meet with so many of you in the past few weeks and also having lived in the area for some years now, catch up with a number of familiar faces.

From the start I’ve wanted to run a campaign based on listening to you, the residents, to help make our area a better place. That’s why my first action was to deliver a detailed survey to every household in the area.

The responses have enabled me to help with a number of issues, such as cleaning up litter hotspots and instances of fly-tipping, reporting the condition of numerous roads and pavements, fixing streetlights, improving bin collections and much more.

I share your concerns regarding excessive speeding and will be pushing for action.

I am pleased that most of you agree with me that decisions affecting Wycombe should be made in Wycombe.  Having already lost our A&E to Aylesbury I say ‘enough is enough’ – a vote for me will be a vote to put Wycombe first.

That is why I am also fighting for us to have a town council to retain control of local services, improve our area and help promote the town.

The new super council is going to have a massive 147 Councillors. That is an unacceptable waste of money and I have launched a campaign to get this number reduced.

The cost of these extra councillors has been estimated at £2 million. That’s an extra £2m being spent on politicians that could instead be spent on the local services we all care about.  How can they be proposing to close our children’s centres whilst wasting such large amounts of money?

I never expected to get into politics, but I felt I couldn’t stand by any longer.

Israr Rashid

I was born locally and have lived in the Totteridge and Bowerdean area all of my life. Having attended local schools myself and now with my children also attending the same schools, I am aware of the challenges that schools are facing in delivering good education to children to all backgrounds due to funding cuts.

I know that many parents are having to make decisions to send their children to schools as far as Bourne End and Princes Risborough, due to no school placements being available locally.

Another issue affecting everyday life of residents within the Totteridge and Bowerdean area is the poor state of roads.

The roads have been poorly maintained for years and causing extreme problems for road users.  I am also concerned about the provision of adult social care and children services. I would campaign to get both of these vital and important services adequately funded and improved by working county council officers and interested stakeholders.

I believe that Wycombe has been underrepresented democratically due to the absence of a town council. This under-representation needs to be addressed and the best way is through a community governance review.

If elected, I will be vocal in highlighting and bringing about change to deliver better educational opportunities for all children.

I will ensure that our roads are not overlooked when it comes to resurfacing and making good of those that have not been repaired for years.

I will fight to get us a fair and just governance for the residents of High Wycombe through the formation of a town council. I will work with all the community groups and organisations throughout the Totteridge and Bowerdean area to improve the quality of life for all.