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Saving our forests is seeing the wood for the trees

40-year fight for bridleway

Maureen Comber joins the Liberal Democrats

Says LibDem chief, "She is a well known champion of countryside, farming issues and a defender of our rural heritage."

After being thrown out of the Tory Party because of her 40-year fight to get just 250-yards of bridleway repaired, Maureen Coomber has just announced that she now plans to stand as a Liberal Democrat at the local elections in May.

The news follows two other defections from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats, Cllrs Eve Hoper and Ian Dowdle.

Speaking for the Liberal Democrats, East Hants Constituency Chairman Adam Carew said

"This is thunderingly good news and will be an enormous boost to the Liberal Democrats on the eve of the District Council elections. We have known for some time that is growing unrest in Tory ranks over their shift to the right and abandonment of social justice policies not to mention 20% cuts to community groups and the CAB.

Both defectors have spoken of an unpleasant atmosphere pervading the local Conservative party and growing dissatisfaction at the dictatorial style of their leadership at EHDC which attempts to impose the will of a powerful clique at the expense of local, democratically elected councilors

Liberal Democrats are fielding a very strong set of candidates this year combining household names with plenty of new talent and we are truly delighted that Eve and Maureen have agreed to join us.

Both councilors bring a wealth of skills and experience to our Lib Dem team. Eve has lived in Liphook for over 20 years and been their district councillor for 8 years. Maureen has lived in Selborne and Kingsley area for over 40 years is well known champion of countryside, farming issues and a defender of our rural heritage.

Liberal Democrats will be fighting a positive campaign. We do things differently in the Liberal Democrats and will be putting local communities, fairness and green issues at the heart of everything we do- we are an alternative administration just waiting to take office.

Selborne and Liphook will be places to watch at this election. The Tories have been in for over a decade now and signs of fatigue and paranoia are becoming to show - they have become drunk on power and its time for a change. EHDC finances are up the creek and they have failed to deliver major projects from Alton Sports and Community Centres to the rural bus service. Their grip on power is fading fast and we are confident of making a number of gains at this election.

This is the third defection from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats at EHDC in half a year. We have been speaking to a number of disillusioned Conservative councillors and I believe more defections will follow.

Cllr Maureen Comber said

"Its been a great privilege to stand up for the rural villages of Selborne, Kingsley, Oakhanger Worldham and Blackmoor. Over three and a half years I have officially travelled 28, 317 miles and attended 360 meetings. I have made many friends and following recent unpleasant events I have been overwhelmed by kind messages of support. There is a growing sense of unease with East Hants Conservatives. There is nasty atmosphere, elected councillors are being excluded or brow beaten into following party lines.

"The Ship Rights Way is fast becoming the Ship Wrecks Way because they wont listen to local councillors and the impact on our villages from Tory plans to dump too many houses in the Ecotown at Bordon are just the latest cases in point, basically they tell us we have to shut up and tow the party line. This is not democracy - I was elected to listen to local concerns and stand up for my residents.

"The Tory leader and former leader tried to oust me and lost so they ganged up on me to get me deselected - what they didn't know was that the Liberal Democrats had been asking me to cross the floor since Cllr Ian Dowdle defected from the Tories last year. I told the Lib Dems I would stay to the bitter end.

"When I started this job nearly four years ago the lanes around the villages had been ravaged by traffic. I have campaigned hard to get speed limits reduced and protect our sunken lanes. I have listened carefully to residents concerns over the anaerobic digester gas plant and over developers bid to build many houses beyond the settlement policy boundary in Selborne.

"I am thrilled that the Lib Dems have given me the opportunity to stand as their candidate in Selborne Ward at the forthcoming local elections. I will continue to fight to protect our farms our countryside and our rural way of life. We live in a beautiful place and we must see that it stays that way."

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