Businessman chosen to contest MP’s seat

FL; Sarah Titford, Sam Thornton and others who have transformed a nettle infested strip at side of alleyway into a flower border.                   FL; ANL-140715-200858009
FL; Sarah Titford, Sam Thornton and others who have transformed a nettle infested strip at side of alleyway into a flower border. FL; ANL-140715-200858009

Assington father-of-four James Cartlidge has been selected by South Suffolk Conservatives as their Parliamentary candidate.

Mr Cartlidge, a district councillor who represents Bures St Mary, Little Cornard and Newton, was chosen at a special general meeting in Ipswich on Friday night. It was open only to members of the South Suffolk Conservative Association.

Mr Cartlidge, 40, said he was honoured to be selected from a shortlist of three men, and said he was looking forward to electioneering.

He will hope to replace Tim Yeo as the area’s MP at next year’s general election.

Mr Yeo was deselected in February when the executive committee of the association decided not to readopt him.

It came after criticisms that Mr Yeo, an MP since 1983, was not a regular presence in his constituency.

Members said they wanted someone who lived locally, and who knows the area, to fight the seat in next year’s election.

Mr Cartlidge, who runs a business helping people from all over the country to buy shared equity in social housing, says he and his family have only one home – in Assington – and they do not intend to buy elsewhere.

He said: “I am very honoured to be selected, and I am incredibly excited about stepping outside and talking to people as part of the election campaign.

“Although I am not born and bred in Suffolk – I moved from Essex to Suffolk in 2011 – I live and work in the area and my children go to local schools.

“I use the train at Bures to go to London, and we regularly shop in Sudbury and Hadleigh.

“We only have one home in Assington – we do not have the budget for another,” he added.

Although he worked as a researcher at the House of Commons after leaving university – and at Conservative central office – he knew he did not want to stay in political research.

“I had an idea about helping first-time buyers get a foot on the ladder,” he said. “I knew I wanted to set up my own business.” He set up Share to Buy 10 years ago.

From a reported 100 people who put themselves forward, Mr Cartlidge was selected in a shortlist of seven women and four men – with the final three interviewed on Friday.

Great Cornard county councillor Peter Beer, part of the selection committee, said: “Originally, the feeling was that whoever was selected would have to be visual and take more interest locally.

“I’m very pleased we have chosen a local lad. James is a team player.”

There was criticism, however, from Green Party candidate Robert Lindsay about the lack of women on the shortlist.

He said: “It’s not just the fact that they’re all men, but all of a particular type – a banker a barrister and a businessman – elite white men. It shows the complete unfairness of the electoral system in South Suffolk.

“Because of the first-past-the-post electoral system, South Suffolk is guaranteed always to return a Conservative. That makes it effectively a rotten borough in which a few paid-up members of a private club – 600 members of South Suffolk Conservatives – decide who the MP for will be for 73,000 people.”