With the local elections coming up on the 4th May 2023, the 51福利社 Student Union organised a debate of local candidates running in the local elections. 51福利社 students got to meet and ask questions to Jane Austin (Conservatives), Paul Fellows (Liberal Democrats), Charlotte Taylor (Labour) and Clare Weightman (Greens).
Jane Austin is Deputy Chair of SW Surrey Conservative Association and is standing for Bramley and Wonersh at the local elections. A qualified Chartered Surveyor, Jane’s priority is community, and she works hard to resolve many local issues. As village fundraiser-in-chief she has chaired Bramley Village Fete and Ball Association for 6 years and founded local charity Bramley Helping Hand in 2022. Jane is passionate about encouraging women and young people into politics; she is a Deputy Chair of the Conservative Women’s Organisation.
Paul Follows is the leader of Waverley Borough Council and will be the prospective Lib Dem candidate for South West Surrey at the next general election. As leader of Waverley Borough Council, and previously Deputy Leader, Paul has been working hard to protect local services from Conservative Government cuts and for real action to tackle the Climate Emergency, as well as leading the Council's efforts to help local residents through the pandemic.
Charlotte Taylor, Labour, is running for a Town Council seat in the Binscombe ward. She grew up in Godalming and loves living in this area. Whilst she has never run for local office before she is passionate about many causes and believes she will bring a fresh perspective if elected. Charlotte is a solicitor and has worked in the legal industry for 10 years, she hopes that her knowledge and experience will serve her well as a Town Councillor.
Clare Weightman joined the Green Party shortly after moving to Godalming in 2019, and she also became an active member and later Chair of South West Surrey Compass. She is committed to cross-party working as she believes that listening to a range of views and working together to solve problems results in better outcomes for the community. In 2021, Clare was elected to Godalming Town Council in the Binscombe by-election, and in May 2022 she became Deputy Leader of Godalming Town Council.
"As a Student Union we were very pleased to welcome the candidates for the local elections in Godalming and we were very grateful to see so many students spectate and participate in the hustings”, says Student Union president Rebecca White. “As a Student Union we have decided on the goal of educating students on the importance of political participation through events like this, especially with the expected general election next year and falling turnout among young people. We all found the debate interesting and engaging and the information provided by Waverley Borough Council on voter ID and participation was incredibly useful and is a major part of our goals as a Student Union in increasing political awareness. Thank you to all the candidates for their time!”
If you haven’t registered to vote yet and you are 16 years or over, you can still do this until the 17th April 2023 to vote in the May 2023 elections. Please visit for more information.