Failed MP hopeful Mark Ashwell rejoins ConservativesBy Victoria Smith
February 15, 2012
A prominent businessman and community champion who shunned the Conservative Party to stand against John Redwood at the last General Election has rejoined the Tories.
Mark Ashwell, former chairman of Wokingham Chamber of Commerce and president of Wokingham & Emmbrook Football Club, has successfully applied to return to Wokingham Conservatives.
He now hopes to stand for Wokingham Borough Council at a future local election.
Mr Ashwell said: “I have rejoined Wokingham Conservatives and I thank them for their pragmatic approach to my membership.”
During his 2010 election campaign as an independent candidate, Mr Ashwell was critical of Mr Redwood’s long tenure as MP for Wokingham and said he believed there should be a change.
He called for better working between the community, government and businesses.
Mr Ashwell, who is managing director of TradeMark Windows in Fishponds Road, received more than 2,300 votes at the election, while Mr Redwood remained as MP, a role he has held since 1987, with more than 28,000 votes.
Mr Ashwell, a father of three boys, said: “My General Election campaign message of 2010 is as relevant now as it was then. I came out of that campaign with the mission of facilitating collaboration between government, community, education and business in Wokingham and beyond.
“I’ve spent two years pursuing this goal, mainly via the business-led Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) initiative.
“I believe I can make a further difference by aspiring to become a Wokingham borough councillor.
“I will be putting my name forward to contest a Wokingham Borough Council seat for the Conservative Party as soon as is possible.
“I believe that nationally the coalition parties are working together to give us the best government in these tough times.
“My views and aspirations seem to be most closely matched to the Wokingham Conservatives.
“Out of the two coalition parties locally, they have been the most inclusive and welcoming.”
Mr Redwood said: “I know Mark has lots of ideas about local issues.
“As an active leader of the Chamber of Commerce he is particularly keen to get the town centre redevelopment under way, and supports our proposals for a new station and road improvements.
“I think it will be good for him and the Conservative team on the borough and town councils if they can work together for a better Wokingham.”
Mr Ashwell was removed from the Conservative Party in March 2010 after declaring he would be standing as an independent candidate for MP against Mr Redwood.
The Conservatives also booted former town councillor Robin Smith out of the party for standing as an independent candidate against Mr Redwood at the 2010 General Election. He has since lost his seat on the town council, but plans to stand again as an independent candidate in the borough.
Wokingham Borough Council is holding elections on Thursday, May 3, for a third of its seats. Voters will be heading to the polls in Bulmershe and Whitegates, Charvil, Emmbrook, Evendons, Finchampstead North, Finchampstead South, Hawkedon, Hillside, Hurst, Loddon, Maiden Erlegh, Norreys, Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe, Shinfield South, Twyford, Wescott, Winnersh, and Wokingham Without.