Val Compton stood smiling on the steps of Marlborough town hall last night (Monday) after a personal success in a battle to be co-opted as a councillor the run-up period to next year’s full council elections
She won hands down on the first ballot in a runaway victory against three other candidates, each of whom made a presentation and were then be subjected to a session of tough questions at a special meeting of the town council.
And 50 minutes later vivacious Mrs Compton, a campaigner on local issues ranging from her High Court bid to save the minor injuries unit at Savernake Hospital and residents’ parking to regular litter picking in the town and protecting the Kennet, comfortably defeated two candidates with significant local government experience.
“It was my own Olympic hurdle and I am delighted I achieved my personal best,” she told Marlborough News Online.
“It was a more grilling process than I thought it would be. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable in a way as I have been attending council meetings for so long it was a comfortable place for me to be answering questions from people I knew.”
And it was undoubtedly Mrs Compton’s much admired reputation in the town that overwhelmed the other would-be candidates to fill a “casual vacancy” caused by the resignation of Tory councillor and former Mayor Robin Notton and no demand being made to hold a by-election for his East Ward council seat.
They included trained therapist Elizabeth Hendry, a former councillor in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and Charles Winchcombe, a former mayor of Devizes whose own uncle was Mayor of Marlborough in 1967.
|Mayor Edwina admonishes councillor who refuses to provide “bullying” evidence
Mayor Edwina Fogg, at the start of the special meeting, referred to the resignation of Councillor Notton and said: “At that time he alleged bullying by certain members of the council (in a report in the local newspaper).
“I wrote to him on June 11 and subsequently sent him an email on June 26 asking for chapter and verse on the accusations. None has been forthcoming.
“I therefore request — and will put it in writing — that the Gazette and Herald gives equal coverage to this announcement since the original report brought the name of this council into disrepute.”
The fourth candidate, 50-year-old engineer Gerard Young, virtually ruled himself out of being chosen by the 13 town councillors present by insisting he wanted to be a stop-gap councillor for nine months only with no intention of standing at the ballot box in May.
Mrs Compton, who resigned from the Tory Party last year, revealed how she became widowed 19 years ago when she was 46, and on arriving in Marlborough 16 years ago immediately became involved in all aspects of the local community through service as a senior local information officer and working with elderly patients at Savernake Hospital.
“This was not new for me, I’ve been attending parish council meetings wherever I’ve lived for 30 years and campaigning for longer,” she revealed.
“I don’t believe in just having a ‘house in a nice place’, but living within a community – and that means making an effort plus a contribution and getting involved.”
“I know I’m a good listener. And people will and do approach me with many problems for some help, which I enjoy giving, but am very honest with them about whether I can help or if I agree with their thinking.”
And she added: “I am an ‘ideas’ person, as many of you will know. I also like to take things forward – not around in circles, which I find very frustrating. I speak my mind plainly, apply common sense, stand up for what I believe in and keep my personal integrity intact.”
“I will always try to protect the vulnerable members of our society, a cause close to my heart. I would see my membership of this council as a natural progression of things I have already been doing.”
“I am secure in the belief that carrying on ‘doing what I do’, strengthened by my membership of this council, would benefit the local community as a whole.”