A Sleaford businessman and former Sleaford Standard staff photographer has officially been nominated as an independent candidate standing in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election.
Mark Suffield, 49, of Sleaford, was the first to present his nomination papers to the electoral services team at North Kesteven District Council offices this afternoon after the window for nominations was opened today (Wednesday).
The by-election has been called after Tory MP Stephen Phillips resigned citing irreconcilable policy differences with the Government.
Mr Suffield lives in Sleaford and is commercial director and a business partner with the Farm Kitchen school meals service, based at Ewerby Thorpe. He started his working life as a staff photographer on the Sleaford Standard.
He is married to local primary school headteacher Laura Suffield and they have two children that attend the William Alvey Primary School. He is currently district councillor for Sleaford Mareham and Quarrington ward, although he accepts he may have to give that role up if elected. He is also a former Sleaford Town Councillor.
Although a member of the Lincolnshire Independents political group on the council, he has opted to finance himself and stand as a total independent rather than leave things to chance by going through the party selection process.
He said: “I have always had an aspiration to stand for Parliament and thought seriously about it on Friday, discussed it with my wife, family and friends. I was disappointed on Monday hearing how the big parties were jostling for position, making it about Brexit and not putting the residents of Sleaford and North Hykeham first and that upset me. I just felt we needed to be represented by someone who was going to represent Sleaford people.”
Mr Suffield said he was disappointed Stephen phillips had stood down but understood if he felt he could not toe the party line. “There is always a place for an independent. You do what is important for the people that elected you, they have given you that trust,” he said.
He accepted that he would not have the clout of a big party behind him on major issues, but he believed he could overcome that.
The Farm Kitchen has five kitchens supplying meals to 55 schools, but he said his business partner was fully supportive of his stance and he was confident he could balance both jobs.
Having an attendance record of over 90 per cent at NKDC, he said his business is local and only operates in term time and promised to do his utmost to make it work and fit in his local life and responsibilities.
He said: “I want to be approachable and available. That is what concerns me when parties parachute people in. We know it is a safe Conservative seat, but I would like to offer a personal touch. I live in the town and went to school here.”
Other parties are in the process of selecting candidates this week. See our previous story here.