Watch Weston's General Election candidates explain why you should vote for them
PUBLISHED: 18:00 17 May 2017
With time running down fast until the General Election on June 8, we asked Weston-super-Mare's candidates for their biographies - plus a 60 second video about why they think you should vote for them. Here is what they wanted you to know before you go to the polls.
Conservatives: John Penrose.
The son of two teachers, John had a state-funded education before a successful business career in publishing. He is married with two children, and lives in the middle of the constituency, in Winscombe.
John has made Weston’s voice heard strongly in Westminster. He was Tourism Minister during the London Olympics, Heritage Minister, a Government whip and Constitution Minister. The Daily Telegraph calls him a ‘stand-out talent’ and even senior Labour MPs say he’s ‘first class’.
John has campaigned successfully for better local health funding; closing dodgy drugs centres so Weston now has fewer, better rehabs and lower crime rates; attracting more investment for our town’s economic rebirth; and protecting greenfields from enormous electricity-pylons.
He believes we’ve come a long way in Weston, Worle and the villages, but there’s more to do for our schools, our hospital and GPs, our roads and rail, and stopping urban sprawl around rural villages.
Greens: Suneil Basu.
Suneil Basu was born in St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, London. At 47 he is happily married, and has two teenage daughters. Moving from Ealing, Suneil has lived in Yatton, North Somerset for almost two years.
After graduating from Art College, Suneil trained as a DT teacher at Goldsmiths’ College. Working in a variety of inner London state schools Suneil developed his educational skills, working as a Head of Faculty and eventually onto the school’s leadership team as an advanced skills teacher. He is currently teaching computer science in a North Somerset comprehensive.
While a teacher, Suneil has actively supported his colleagues for several years acting as a trade union representative for the NUT.
Suneil is an enthusiastic member of the region’s major triathlon club, with a particular strength in cycling. There is nothing he likes more than riding round the hills of the constituency.
Labour: Tim Taylor.
“I’ve lived in Weston since 2001, have been married to Jess for 18 years and have two daughters who attend local state schools. Professionally, I work as an HR Manager and I have led programmes to support disabled people’s careers.
“I am a member of St Paul’s Church and my faith strongly influences my politics. I want to build an inclusive community with opportunities for all.
“My aim is to make Weston and the villages a safe and welcoming area to live, work and visit, by attracting new businesses, protecting public services and working across political boundaries.
“In the 2015 General Election, I was the Labour candidate in Weston, achieving second place, and I have also served for eight years as a Weston Town Councillor. If elected, I promise to be a listening MP. I’d love to hear your views and ideas – firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Liberal Democrats: Mike Bell.
Mike Bell was born at the old Weston Hospital. The 43-year-old has lived in Weston, Worle and some of North Somerset villages all his life. He is married with two sons who attend a local primary school and lives with his family in the Milton area of Weston.
Mike works for a national charity, campaigning to help people with disabilities to improve their communities. Previously he has run his own business and worked for a locally based small publishing company.
A relentless campaigner, Mike represents Weston-super-Mare Central Ward on North Somerset Council, and is a former Leader of Weston Town Council.
Mike also serves as a governor of Walliscote Primary School and chairs his local Children’s Centre Partnership Board. In his spare time, he is a volunteer with the Scout Association, helping lead a group of 20 six and seven-year-olds. He also has a very energetic border collie called Murphy.
UKIP: Helen Hims.
“I was born and grew up in Kent, but moved to Somerset in my late 20s. My early careers were in the NHS and the airline industry at Gatwick. I’ve lived near Winscombe on the edge of the Mendip Hills for 25 years, where my husband and I own and run a small business.
“I have four children who all attended the excellent Weston College.
“I first became interested in politics after becoming aware of the stealth creation of a United States of Europe. I was particularly concerned about erosion of UK sovereignty, and the eventual impact this would have on our national identity.
“I joined UKIP in 2012 and quickly became a keen local activist. I’m currently Wells branch chairman, Somerset county chairman, and stood in Wells Constituency in the 2015 general election. I was heavily involved with both ‘Leave.EU and Vote Leave during the referendum campaign last year.”
* If you want to hear more from the candidates, register for a place at May 26’s hustings event, hosted by the Mercury and Weston College.