People

 

Introducing our main team of officers, who run the local party and coordinate our activities

 

April ClarkAPRIL CLARK – Tonbridge and Malling Borough Councillor

April joined the Green Party in January 2015 as part of the 'Green Surge'. She says: “I was so frustrated because I didn’t hear politicians talking about the things that matter to me, and I think to most people.”

“Our voting system incentivises our MPs to ignore us – not to represent us. To win a general election, only a few marginal seats matter, so parties focus all their efforts and resources on just a fraction of voters across the whole of the UK.”

“In Tonbridge and Malling, traditionally a ‘safe’ Conservative seat, we have a responsibility to shout loud about what matters to us, to make our voice heard in Westminster. We can have an impact – by voting for what we believe in, and by campaigning for proportional representation so all our votes matter.”

April was born in Australia and moved to the UK in 2005 (she has dual Australian & British citizenship). She has lived in central Tonbridge since May 2008 and works full time in London in the Financial Services industry.

In 2015 April helped establish a new branch of the WI in South Tonbridge, attracting over 150 local women to the launch event. The group continues to thrive, with a diverse range of ages and backgrounds (www.southtonbridgewi.com).


Until recently, April was Vice Chair of a national disability charity, Attitude is Everything, which aims to improve access for deaf and disabled fans and artists to live music (www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk).

April served a term on the Equality and Diversity Committee of the Green Party of England and Wales, whose remit is to improve diversity and inclusion within the national party itself for women, people of colour, LGBTIQA people, people with disabilities and other under-represented groups.

April stood for the Tonbridge & Malling constituency in the June 2017 and December 2019 general elections.

In May 2019 April was elected to represent Judd Ward on Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council.


 

 RALPH RUGE - Branch Finance Officer

Ralph Ruge

After a short stint in retail banking Ralph moved to Tonbridge in 2000 to teach French and German in a number of local secondary schools. A decade and a half, two children, and five cats later he currently manages a major renovation project in the heart of Tonbridge. He has never considered voting anything other than Green and looks forward to the Tonbridge and Malling Green Party going from strength to strength


 

Mark HoodMARK HOOD – Branch Co-Chair; Tonbridge and Malling Borough Councillor; Kent County Councillor

Mark Hood was a founder member of Barden Residents' Association, Keep River Lawn Green and community festival Tonbridge Calling. He is now Tonbridge and Malling Borough Councillor for Judd Ward where he has lived with his family since 1993 as well as a Kent County Councillor for Tonbridge.He works in the local area as a gardener and wants to protect our Green Belt from the creeping urbanisation of our countryside against the wishes of our communities. He believes in putting people at the heart of decision making and reversing the centralisation and concentration of power in the hands of very few.

Mark has lived in Tonbridge almost all his life and is married to Andrea. They have two young children, Sam and Rowan. His Mum, Dad, Sister and Brother all live in the town. Having worked in the printing industry for 25 years he has now forged another career in horticulture.

Since changing career he has been working in his community and established the Barden Residents’ Association in the corner of town he has called home since 1993. He is one of the organisers of the Tonbridge Calling music festival which encourages people to see past the things that divide us to celebrate the things that bring us together. He also revived the Tonbridge Christmas Festival in the early 2000’s presenting a programme of music and contemporary arts for four years.

“I believe that the policies of the Green Party provide a comprehensive vision for a fairer future for all mankind, focussing on people and our planet. Now is the time to commit to leaving fossil fuels in the ground and to embrace the clean energy solutions that renewables offer. I am particularly concerned that local development should be concentrated on providing much needed social housing for local people to prevent a generation being forced out of their neighbourhood. The land grab of our precious countryside to feed demand for luxury homes for people moving out of London is unsustainable.”

“Tonbridge and Malling has a bright future with its fantastic schools, community and amenities. However we need councillors who will stand up for it rather than be apologists for a never ending cycle of cuts which is harming the most vulnerable disproportionately. It cannot be right that foodbanks are becoming normalised as a part of our welfare system, that the United Nations cites our government as abusing the human rights of disabled people or that the Red Cross has to declare a humanitarian crisis in our NHS. Our country deserves better than this and I will campaign for a brighter future for all of us."


 

Paul SteptoPAUL STEPTO - Kent County Councillor

I've lived in Tonbridge for over 30 years and before retiring worked for a major financial services company. I'm the former secretary of the Tonbridge & Malling Green Party and current Kent County Councillor.

I volunteer in two local schools and teach part-time at a college in Rochester. I want to retain the town's unique character and social mix, I am opposed to the council's policy of selling off its assets to meet the deficit, and I believe that brown field sites should be developed before the Green Belt. We must work to improve air quality in the High Street, urgently address the shortage of truly affordable housing in the town, and make the council more representative, transparent and accountable.


 

Fran LongFRAN LONG – Co-Chair, Election Agent and Nominating Officer

Fran Long is Tonbridge and Malling Green Party Co Chair, election agent and nominating officer.  Fran is a retired nurse/midwife.  She has been a member of the Green Party for about 10 years, and is also actively involved with Friends of the Earth and the Angel Community Garden.
Fran's particular concerns locally are traffic congestion and pollution, which lead to poor health.  Fran started Tonbridge Bicycle Users Group to press for improved facilities for cycling, making active transport a safer and more popular choice. This would include 20 mph speed limit throughout residential areas, and more cycle paths separated from traffic.  She would also like improved and cheaper bus services to make these a more popular choice, and to replace dirty diesel buses with electric buses in the High Street.

JILL WAITE - Branch Secretary

I grew up in rural South Lincolnshire but lived in London for many years before moving to Tonbridge in 2007. I spent my career in the NHS, working as a nurse and psychodynamic therapist in mental health. I retired six years ago and, until COVID struck, was regularly at RNLI Tower Lifeboat Station on the Thames, hosting visits and managing the small shop. I’ve voted Green for as long as I can remember but decided to join the party because I was impressed with what I saw happening in Tonbridge in terms of the Green Party presence and its response to local concerns. The amount of litter and the impact of it on our lives and the environment is a main concern of mine, as is social injustice. I am also increasingly frustrated at the state of our politics nationally. First Past the Post means I have never been represented by anyone I’ve voted for. I also believe there has to be a better way to manage the NHS, Social Care and Education rather than policy being dictated by the whims of whichever party is in Government. I was glad to become more involved during the KCC election this year, and am pleased to have been given this opportunity to take on the role of Secretary.