Six candidates are standing in a by-election in Kemptown for a seat on Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday 2 May.

The seat became vacant when Bharti Gajjar resigned. She was elected for Labour last May but expelled from the party in December. She then sat as an independent but resigned in March.

The six candidates are Robert Brown (Liberal Democrat), Gary Farmer (Brighton and Hove Independent), Jamie Gillespie (Independent), Theresa Mackey (Labour), Josephine O’Carroll (Conservative) and Ricky Perrin (Green).

Each candidate received questions about local issues submitted by the public and was asked why they wanted to represent the ward.

Below are the responses from Gary Farmer, 53, a language school boss, who lives in Old Steine.

Do you live in the ward and why do you want to represent Kemptown?

I live and work in Kemptown ward. I want to serve the people and represent Kemptown as I have witnessed and become frustrated at the decline and neglect in Kemptown as Westminster politics puts party loyalties and political point-scoring above the needs of our residents.


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I offer a genuine and credible alternative to the veiled politics and party tribalism of old.

Local issues need local people with real-life experiences within Kemptown to best represent all fairly and independently.

How were you selected to stand for election?

I was selected by open discussion within the Brighton and Hove Independent group as a genuine local candidate living and working in Kemptown ward.

A passion for the community, life experience and local representation are very important to the Independent group.

It should also be noted only two candidates standing for election live in Kemptown ward.

Kemptown ward is blighted by litter and graffiti. How will you support residents and tackle this?

I will prioritise regular street cleaning, focusing on problem areas within Kemptown and implement deep-cleaning initiatives to address litter and graffiti.

I will also increase the number of street bins, targeting areas where our community wants them, and review collection schedules and by actively participating in clean-up drives and awareness campaigns that a cleaner Kemptown benefits everyone.

We need a proactive and sustained approach to graffiti and tagging by promptly addressing incidents and allocating resources for graffiti removal.

What are your views on the return of glyphosate weedkiller? Will you volunteer to join the tidy up team?

I have been a member of the tidy up team for several years and clean up in the Kemptown area regularly.

It’s difficult to balance weed management and the safety of residents against its environmental impact.

We need to get on top of this problem with the current targeted strategy in the short term.

I support local neighbourhoods being given the right to opt out of the use of glyphosate where there is a viable plan to maintain clean and safe streets.

If phase three of the Valley Gardens project increases congestion, what will you do on behalf of those affected including residents?

The council’s external transport consultants say VG3 will increase congestion and pollution.

Brighton and Hove Buses and Buswatch say it will delay and lengthen bus journeys.

This flawed scheme will create difficulties for residents and businesses within Kemptown.

Since 2018 I have been a director of the Valley Gardens Forum group and through this I will continue to put pressure on the council and engage with residents and stakeholders to identify and tackle specific problems such as pinch-points related to congestion.

Polling stations in Kemptown are due to open at 7am on Thursday 2 May and close at 10pm. Photo ID is required for those voting in person.