Farnham Residents have retained control of Farnham Town Council for another four years after winning every town seat they contested at last Thursday’s local elections.
The Residents group won 14 of the town council’s 16 wards as the results were announced on Sunday – having won 14 of Farnham’s 18 wards at the 2019 election, prior to the recent boundary changes.
Lib Dem candidates Mark Merryweather in the new Badshot Lea and Moor Park ward and Matthew Brown in Weybourne won the remaining two seats.
It is believed to be the first time Farnham Town Council has not returned a single Conservative councillor.
The highest-profile casualty of the election was Conservative member for The Bourne Carole Cockburn who, despite winning her borough council seat two days earlier, was defeated in the town poll by two Farnham retailers – Michaela Martin (of Mulberry Silks in Downing Street) and George Murray (of Coffee Diem in Lion & Lamb Yard).
Cllr Cockburn had been town councillor of The Bourne since 1999, and twice led the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan to adoption – earning her the British Empire Medal in 2022, and with it a seat at last week’s coronation service at Waverley Abbey.
Speaking after his re-election, Farnham Town Council leader David Beaman (Farnham Residents, Farnham North West) has commented on his vision for the future, including the Farnham Infrastructure Programme (FIP).
Speaking alongside newly-elected councillor and ward colleague Graham White, also of the Farnham Residents, Cllr Beaman discussed the importance of working together to achieve positive change for the community.
He said: "I was thinking of standing down this time in all honesty, but it keeps your brain active and I'm looking forward to the next four years. Graham and I will make a good team together. We've been working together really well, and we complement each other's strengths and weaknesses."
Cllr White, who lives in the ward, said: "I wanted to give something back. Everybody trots that out, but it's absolutely true. And I just thought I want to keep myself active and keep the brain, the grey matter going. That was important."
Cllr White also spoke about his background in construction and his concerns about development and the use of so-called 'redundant' farmland around Farnham for housing.
"I know we've got to have social housing, we've got to provide homes, but I think there's another way of doing it," he said.
"I don't know what that's going to be yet, I need to understand more about how things work, but I think we can do better. We've got a lot of 'redundant' farmland around Farnham, and I'm very concerned that it's just gonna get eaten away randomly and we might not end up with the best solution for the community."
Asked if he was pleased with what the residents group had achieved over the last four years, Cllr Beaman responded: "Definitely, yes. The problem is people in Farnham are very fickle sometimes. But we are doing our best, and this vote is a reassurance that we are doing the best for the population."
Cllr Beaman also spoke about the Farnham Infrastructure Programme, saying: "We'll definitely get the Farnham infrastructure Programme (FIP) implemented in the next council term. We've got to do something for the town centre and changing people's attitudes towards how to travel around Farnham. Because quite frankly, unless we do that, we're not going to get anywhere really."
He acknowledged that the FIP was a difficult subject to tackle but stated that the Farnham Residents party was "determined to get something done this time".
"Some people will suffer some dis-benefits, but the majority will benefit," he said.
Cllr White added: "That's what really inspired me about Farnham Residents, it's a community thing, and trying and find the ground that the community will get around and agree that we can move forward. I think that's been the problem with Farnham, there have been so many people have been shouting from the rooftops and not coming together."
Elected to Farnham Town Council (all Farnham Residents unless stated):
- Badshot Lea and Moor Park: Chris Jackman, Mark Merryweather (Lib Dem).
- Bourne: Michaela Martin, George Murray.
- Castle: Alan Earwaker, George Hesse.
- Hale & Heath End: Sally Dickson, Tony Fairclough.
- Farnham North West: David Beaman, Graham White.
- Shortheath & Firgrove: Brodie Mauluka, Kika Mirylees.
- Weybourne: Matthew Brown (Lib Dem), Andrew Laughton.
- Wrecclesham & Rowledge: John Ward, Tim Woodhouse.