Alexandra: “It was a wonderful experience to be married to Tom at the Brighton bandstand, such an iconic landmark not just of Brighton but also of the Regency area that we both hope to represent on the council after May next year. It symbolises the fun and spirit of what we like so much about living in Brighton. Thank you to everyone, family and friends, other well-wishers and local residents for all their support. It’s really appreciated.”
The Green Party has announced one of its top candidate slates for next year’s city council elections in Brighton for the Regency area.
Newly selected couple Alexandra Philips and Tom Druitt hope to keep the tradition of a husband and wife team representing Regency ward, following in the footsteps of council leader Jason Kitcat and Ania who are stepping down after eight and four years respectively as councillors in the area.
Alexandra and Tom won a hard fought party member selection contest and this weekend tied their fortunes at a wedding ceremony on Brighton seafront.
Tom and Alexandra have a reputation for high octane political energy or an eco version of it; Alexandra needs no introduction to public life; she represents the nearby Goldsmid ward in Hove after winning a sensational by-election in 2009 and has decided to stand for election in a Brighton ward this time round.
Alexandra has been a fierce campaigner against government cuts and against the so called bedroom tax which penalises council tenants who are on housing benefit.
Fiance Tom is well known for setting up a local bus company, The Big Lemon, which runs local bus services, coach hire and trips across the country using vehicles powered by waste cooking oil, and now employs 13 people.
Tom also has a track record of peaceful direct action against road building and fracking. Last year he was central to the campaign to save an endangered but still healthy elm tree at the Seven Dials roundabout which the council planned to fell as part of the Seven Dials improvements.
Regency area resident Stephanie Pain, a journalist and a fellow campaigner to save the elm, vouches for Tom.
She said, “I met Tom during last year’s successful campaign to save the Seven Dials elm from being felled as part of a highway improvement scheme.
“Over the weeks of the campaign I got to know both how effective he is at getting things done and how committed he is to issues he feels strongly about including preserving the quality of our local environment.
“Most local residents will remember Tom as one of the guys who spent two freezing nights camped in the elm tree to fend off the men with chainsaws.
“That certainly highlighted his energy and commitment and his willingness to drop everything and do something rather than just talk about how sad it would be if the tree was lost. But Tom also played a key role in some tough behind-the-scenes negotiations that called for diplomacy, level-headedness and sticking power.
“It’s rare to find someone with all those skills and such enormous enthusiasm for the causes he believes in. He’s just the sort of person we need to get to grips with local issues here in the city.
“I wish Tom and Alex best of luck in May’s elections.”
Alexandra said she was thrilled to be selected as Green candidate for Regency with her soon to be husband, “I am proud of my record as a councillor and thank the people of Goldsmid ward for electing me twice.
“Now I’ve been selected in a new part of town I will be working hard to meet people and share my approach to community politics which is about action to achieve fairness.
“My campaigning against the unfair bedroom tax, my stance against government induced cuts on the council budget and campaigns against discrimination such as ditching the de facto ban on gay men giving blood are the things on which people here expect us to take a stand.”
Alexandra added, “This is obviously a big weekend for us but, looking ahead to the campaign, this area is simply the most vibrant and most Brighton of Brighton neighbourhoods.
“You can rest assured Tom and I will be getting out and about over the next few months to hear what people have to say and what concerns they have in living in the busiest part of town.
“We’re looking forward to meeting as many people as possible”.
For transparency with his business role at the Big Lemon, Tom has announced that if elected, he will disqualify himself from any discussions affecting The Big Lemon and the council and will not serve on any key committees which decide bus policy in the city.
He said, “It’s important that people have complete trust in their elected representatives and I think openness and integrity are very important. I’m looking forward to meeting as many residents as I can over the next few months and seeing what I can do for the people of Regency.”
If Regency area residents want to support Alexandra and Tom in their campaign they can contact them at by email here
Tom has published a blog about his decision to stand here: www.druitt.wordpress.com
By training, Alexandra is a secondary school teacher of French and German though now works on the general election campaign for the Green Party. She is an experienced campaigner, with a keen interest in schooling, equalities and peace issues.
First elected to the city council in a by-election in Goldsmid ward in July 2009, winning the Greens’ first ever seat in Hove, from the Conservatives Alexandra was re-elected in 2011. She has a degree in French Studies from the University of London Institute in Paris, and has worked in public affairs, an international human rights charity, and in the European Parliament. In her free time, Alex enjoys her work as a Governor at Somerhill Junior School. She also spends time cycling, running along the seafront and swimming in the sea.
Tom grew up in Sussex and then lived in Scotland for six years after he left home. He then moved to Brighton in 2003 living in the Regency area for next few years.
In 2006 he started up the Big Lemon bus company and since then has played a role in the local commercial life of the city being a member of Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses. He also served on the Brighton & Hove Social Enterprise Steering Group and helped develop the Brighton & Hove Social Enterprise Strategy.
Tom has also served as a school governor at St. Lukes school, with responsibility for science. He is an occasional speaker at business club meetings and chamber of commerce events, and regularly attends Brighton Area Buswatch meetings where he updates people on news from The Big Lemon (exciting stuff!). Outside work and politics he enjoys energetic pursuits including sailing, walking, running, swimming and rock climbing – all so long as he can enjoy a pint of real ale at the end of the day.