Chislehurst Matters
The three independents won their ward in Chislehurst

An independent party that pulled off shock victories in Chislehurst in last week’s council elections has revealed how it beat three Tory incumbents after forming only four months ago.

Alison Stammers, the founder of Chislehurst Matters, saw her new party sweep away three incumbents in the elections to Bromley Council.

Chislehurst Matters only registered with the electoral commission in January, and only officially launched on the day Storm Eunice hit the UK.

But yet they gained all three seats in the ward, just south of the Greenwich border, at the expense of well-known and long-standing Conservative councillors.

Stammers will be joined by Michael Jack and Mark Smith in the Bromley Council chamber for the next four years.

A small, passionate team, strong engagement on local issues and residents willing to wear sandwich boards carrying the party’s branding were all part of the team’s success, said Stammers.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We engaged very effectively with the local community. People in the community know us, they know our track record, they know our passions, they know our commitment, they know we don’t over-promise, they know that we’re genuine. We all live here and we’re active and out and about all the time. We’re very, very visible in the community through the various things we all do.

“Everybody that we were speaking to said we ran a good campaign. It was a positive campaign, which we always insisted it should be. We had lots of support from local residents who came on board to help deliver leaflets and spread the word. Many of them displayed our posters in their windows and or our boards in their garden, so there was a lot of brand identification.

“We had two wonderful residents who wore sandwich boards – which was their suggestion – and were happy to go up and down Chislehurst in the couple of weeks before the election.”

Stammers reflected on the various issues her party campaigned on – including road safety, combating anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping, and protecting woodland, and how they resonated with locals.

She said towards the end of the campaign she and fellow canvassers would be told by locals not to bother with their sales pitches, because they had already decided to back the party.

Residents in other parts of the borough are already asking how to set up their own campaigns.

Stammers said: “We’re already getting emails from people saying ‘how do we set up Bickley Matters [or] Farnborough Matters’ and there are people who are engaged out there who think it is a model for the future. If you’ve got people who the community can identify who can head up that sort of a movement, then it’s very workable in other areas, as we’ve shown.”

The Plumstead Party fought the 2018 council elections in Greenwich, coming second in two out of three wards. However, the party did not continue and its registration was withdrawn.

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Kiro Evans is the Local Democracy Reporter for Bromley. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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