VOTERS head to the polls next month to elect their MP in the South Cotswolds constituency.

South Cotswolds is a newly created constituency comprising just over half of the electorate of the former Cotswolds constituency including the towns of Cirencester and Tetbury.

It also covers the northern and western parts of the abolished North Wiltshire constituency including Cricklade, Purton and Malmesbury.

Conservative James Gray who was MP for the now defunct North Wiltshire constituency is standing for election along with Labour’s Zoë Billingham, Social Democratic Party candidate Martin Broomfield, Green Party’s Bob Eastoe and Independent Owen Humphrys.

Also standing is Reform UK’s Desi Latimer, Liberal Democrat Roz Savage, Independent Sandy Steel and Liberal Party candidate Chris Twells.

Candidates have set out below the reasons why they believe people should vote for them on July 4.

A map showing the new South Cotswolds constituency - which includes Cirencester, Tetbury, Cricklade, Purton and Malmesbury (Image: UGC)

Zoë Billingham – Labour Party

As an economist who has worked in public service and public policy throughout my working life, I know how to get things done in government – and it would be such an honour to serve the community I grew up in.

We’ve been out and about in the community. You told us that NHS waiting times are too long and dental care is almost impossible to find. You told us that spiralling bills are making life too hard on working families. You told us you were concerned about unclean water and environmental damage in our beautiful countryside. And you told us that our young people are concerned about their future, especially where their opportunities for good jobs and housing will come from.

After decades of Tory decision making, this is where we are. That’s why our top five pledges are built around you, and this is what we’ll be getting straight to work on:

1. We’ll invest in the NHS & dental care.

2. We’ll tackle the cost of living crisis.

3. We’ll back farmers, protect our climate & safeguard our water & food.

4. We’ll create opportunities for our young people.

5. We’ll improve public transport and fix our potholes.

Labour has a plan for a brighter future, and I’m ready to bring that to life for our community and be our voice in Westminster. I would love to hear from you.

Together, we can turn a corner in South Cotswolds. It’s time for change, your vote will count – let’s make it happen.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate Zoë Billingham for the South Cotswolds seat 

Martin Broomfield – Social Democratic Party

I just watched Carol Vorderman explaining that if we all vote “tactically”, in the way that she tells us to vote, then we would never need to vote tactically again. What she fails to address is the fact that every one has always voted tactically and that’s why we’re in this mess.

This time, vote for what you believe in. That way your vote is helping your own ideals to spread.

Social Democratic Party parliamentary candidate Martin Broomfield (Image: UGC)

Bob Eastoe – Green Party

I was the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of one of Buchinghamshire’s largest manufacturers. An old established family firm which was in severe financial difficulties when I joined.

Then the western financial crisis hit and I found we were dealing with our own issues and our bank’s issues! We embarked on an enlightened approach to our business by adopting a sustainable strategy in all we did.

We became the first carbon neutral business of its type in the world, we took out polyurethane foam from our products and started a business to recycle the seven million units of the type we made discarded in the UK each year. We became the first business to contract with British farmers to take their wool as part of the red tractor programme – the first time it was used for something other than an edible product. In 2021 the business was awarded a Queen’s Award for sustainability recognising our long term commitment to making a difference to our industry.

I have also been the director of a publishing business, CFO of a French based water treatment business and was the youngest financial controller (a long time ago) in a UK IT business that floated.

The voters of the South Cotswolds can have real hope for real change. They can choose a fairer, more inclusive and secure future or follow the chaos and confusion we have experienced from the last attempts at government. The key issues, as I see it, in the constituency are:

Investment in the NHS to ensure people get the high quality care they need when they need it. I have taken the NHS pledge

Stop the dumping of sewage killing our rivers through taking public utilities back into public ownership.

Supporting local businesses by curbing the anti-competitive and monopolistic practices of the likes of Amazon and others.

Create better public transport services for employment, education and leisure after years of cuts.

Support farmers in managing the environment and ensuring better food security with stable prices.

The Green Party is the only political party to offer real policies and solutions to a better future.

Green's parliamentary candidate Bob Eastoe for the South Cotswolds seat 

James Gray – Conservative and Unionist Party

I ask for the privilege of your vote in the South Cotswolds for four main reasons. First, local people need a strong experienced voice for them in the corridors of power in Westminster and Whitehall.

I have been a committed constituency MP for many years, serving my constituents through being constantly available and approachable – in surgeries, visiting local schools and businesses, attending a host of events of every kind – and by speaking up for you in so many campaigns and matters of great concern.

Second, I have a proven track record of achievements and experience. Most recently I am glad to have played a decisive part in the campaign to save Sherston’s Tolsey Surgery and to have successfully led the campaign to stop the hideous LimeDown Solar Farm.

Previously I am proud of the work I did to save MOD Lyneham and in the sad Repatriations through Royal Wootton Bassett. In so many other local campaigns and debates I have tried to play my part by speaking up for local interests and influencing decision makers at every level of Government.

That takes experience and dedication which I offer to the people of the South Cotswolds. Third, I am first and foremost a Parliamentarian. I have always been a ‘backbencher’ with the resulting freedom to speak my mind to the Government. Whether we have a continuing Conservative Government under the able leadership of Rishi Sunak, or a Labour Government, I will continue to shout the corner in Parliament for local people and interests. And fourth, I offer traditional Conservative values and principles-less Government and bossiness; lower taxes, care and concern for those less fortunate in life; respect for our great British institutions and traditions; a strong economy, determined defence of the realm and so much more.

I know that those are the beliefs and values of the large majority of people in the South Cotswolds; and I promise to continue fighting for them. If it is not to be a Conservative majority government, then it is at least essential to our democracy to have a powerful Opposition holding them to account; and if needs be, then I seek a role in doing just that.


Conservative's parliamentary candidate and former MP James Gray for the South Cotswolds seat (Image: UGC)

Owen Humphrys – Independent

Owen Humphrys is standing as an independent candidate for the South Cotswolds in the general election.

Desi Latimer – Reform UK

The UK has been my home for 30 years and I have lived in Stroud in the past 12 years. Previously I lived in Cheltenham.

It’s incredible to find myself standing for the Brexit Party. I was happy getting on with my quiet life. I am not a career politician. I put my trust in the politicians to make Brexit happen. I was confident they would honour what the country has voted for.

Three years later things are unravelling politically. We haven’t left the European Union despite Boris’ promise to leave on the 31st of Oct. Do or Die.

The Tories failed to deliver Brexit and continue to blame others. How long do we continue to reward broken promises and failures from our politicians?

Brexit fatigue is sweeping the nation and voters’ apathy is high. We have to have the fighting spirit and carry on. Fight for the Brexit we voted for. Reject Boris’ deal which will tie us up to more years of wrangling with the EU.

Our goal is to build a cohesive group of Leave voters in Stroud to defeat Tory backsliding and win against local Remain party alliances. Desi Latimer is a renewable energy project developer with expertise in marine renewables.

She develops ocean energy projects overseas for UK and European technology companies. Her region of expertise is in Southeast Asia which is where she was born in the Philippines.

She proactively promotes UK offshore renewable technologies and expertise in the region including in collaboration with UK Trade and Investment. She has provided her expertise as Resource Person to the Philippine government in implementing its policies, rules and standards to attract investment in the renewable energy sector in order to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Earlier in her career, she worked for Ford Motor Company, Rank Hovis McDougal and Ernst and Young among others. She has an MSc degree from the London School of Economics, studied her MA at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has an undergraduate degree from the Philippines.

She lives with her husband in Stroud and has a daughter who lives in Sydney.

Roz Savage – Liberal Democrats

I am honoured to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for the new South Cotswolds constituency. As the daughter of Methodist preachers, I was taught to serve people, respect others, be of service to my community and protect our environment.

My parents maintained high standards in public life and expected those elected to office to do the same. They also taught me to stand up against things that are wrong and to do what I can to put them right.

These are the values by which I have tried to live my life and are ones, I believe we need to see restored to public life. I am not a career politician – after gaining my Oxford University law degree, I later earned a doctorate in systems change.

A successful career in business followed. But I gave up that comfortable existence to become the first and so far only woman to row solo across three oceans – Atlantic, Pacific and Indian – to raise awareness of the global environmental crisis.

I trust this shows that I have the perseverance, determination and unwavering commitment to be your MP. But protecting our natural world is not the only crisis we face.

We need truly affordable housing, support for families struggling with everyday bills, and better access to GPs and dentists. We need investment in rural GP surgeries and local hospitals. We must stop the dumping of toxic sewage into our rivers by water companies and their overpaid CEOs.

Our countryside needs protection from the overdevelopment that benefits large landowners but not local communities, often undertaken by offshore companies who pay no tax here. Local businesses need support and our young people the opportunity to thrive. There is so much that needs to change.

As your MP, I will listen to you, and fight tirelessly for our communities. I will seek investment and value for money in public services, support for local businesses, and a fairer society with opportunity for all.

Independent polls show I am in a tight fight with the Conservatives here. I humbly ask for your vote to be the fresh and energetic voice who will serve you, your family and community.

Liberal Democrat's parliamentary candidate Roz Savage for the South Cotswolds seat 

Sandy Steel – Independent

Sandy Steel is standing as an independent candidate for the South Cotswolds in the general election.

Chris Twells – The Liberal Party

Chris Twells declined to comment and provide a photograph.