By Harry Mottram: If you live in Axbridge and district and are registered to vote in the Wells and Mendip Hills parliamentary constituency you cannot vote for Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer to be prime minister. Instead, you can only vote for one of six candidates who are standing for parliament in our constituency to replace the outgoing Conservative MP James Heappey – two are in the same party as the duo mentioned.

They are in alphabetical order:

Helen Himms, Reform Party.

Joe Joseph, Labour Party.

Abi McGuire, Independent.

Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat.

Meg Powell-Chandler, Conservative.

Peter Welsh, Green Party.

Below is a short summary of some of their views or those of the party they are representing – I have tried to be neutral – but each candidate has so many policies – so I’ve tried the impossible and given them all about the same amont of copy:

Helen Himms, Reform Party

From the party: Only Reform will stand up for British culture, identity and values. We will restore trust in our democracy. Repair our broken public services. Cut taxes to make work pay. Slash government waste and red tape. Maximise Britain’s vast energy treasure of oil and gas, to reduce the cost of energy, beat the cost of living crisis and help unleash real economic growth. Once and for all, we will take back control over our borders, our money and our laws. Reform UK will secure Britain’s future as a free, proud and independent sovereign nation.

From Helen: I was born & grew up in Kent, and spent my early adult life in Sussex working for the NHS and the airline industry at Gatwick.  I moved to Somerset in the mid 1990’s and have lived in the beautiful village of Shipham ever since, where my husband and I brought up our large family and run a busy local business.   I’ve been active in politics since 2012, and stood in Wells constituency as the Parliamentary Candidate for UKIP in 2015 (where we secured 3rd place).  I was also Wells Branch and Somerset County Chairman.  In 2016 during the EU referendum, I acted as Somerset group leader for both Leave.EU and Vote Leave, and in 2019 I took on the role of SW Regional Manager for The Brexit Party (later Reform UK) helping to secure our victory in the European elections.

Editor’s note: Reform is a limited company owned by Nigel Farage and Richard Tice who decide on its policies. They have seen a surge in support inheriting the votes of UKIP but also attracting many in Conservative Party. Unlikely to win here but could do well nationally.

More info: and

Joe Joseph, Labour Party

From the party: Labour’s missions are built on fulfilling our first duty: to protect our country – through economic stability, secure borders and strong defence. They also outline plans to build more homes to solve the housing shortage, to create a publicly owned energy firm great British Energy to lower bills, increase funds for the NHS, to ‘take back our streets’ and to ‘break down barriers to opportunity.’ No pledges to renationalise the utilities, railways or coal and steel – but many welcome how they funded social services and education under the Blair/Brown years.

From Joe: “As a Labour and Co-operative candidate, I may not be the obvious challenger here, but we are certainly offering a fresh and sensible alternative. I stand for sovereignty over our food and farming, fair trade, and a right to healthy affordable food. I will safeguard standards in public life, restoring honesty and integrity. I want to achieve a co-operative green economy, in which wealth and power are shared fairly. Let’s build on the pride we have in our communities, end rural poverty, and get the countryside working again.”

Editor’s Note: Labour used to be the main opposition here in the 1950s and 1960s but are now usually consigned to third place in elections although will be hoping for a resurgence due to the national popularity of the party. An ex-RAF serviceman and a farmer means Joe ticks all the boxes for a rural constituency.

More info: and

Abi McGuire, Independent

From Abi: I have learnt many things from visiting 51 parish councils and door knocking tens of thousands of people so I know what is important to people. It would be disingenuous for me to produce a traditional manifesto as I will not be able to form a Government as an independent. If elected, what I will do is challenge toxic party political behaviour in Parliament and introduce a new way of working that is respectful and collaborative. I will also be able to authentically represent the constituency as I’m not subject to a party whip.  We need to put our faith into a person rather than a party manifesto.

From the party: I am committed to winning this election. Between March 2023 and March 2024, I visited every parish council in the constituency. I have connected with all the North Somerset Councillors, Somerset Councillors, Clerks, Chairs and Parish Councillors. In October 2023, I resigned from my post as an investigator at the University of Bath to campaign full-time. I aim to personally door-knock over 20,000 homes across the constituency before the next general election. No independent candidate or party political candidate has ever done this.

Editor’s Note: You don’t have to be in a political party to stand for parliament. Anyone can stand but they must get their nomination papers signed by ten people and register a deposit of £500. So, Abi is joining a long tradition of independent MPs – should she win. Judging by her website, leaflets and activities she believes she can.

More info:

Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat

From Tessa: In the five years Tessa was the MP for previous parliamentary seat of Wells from 2010 to 2015 she was highly active in Parliament: Engaged in close to 320 debates ; Asked Ministers around 130 questions in the House of Commons chamber; Submitted 550 questions to the Government in writing ; Asked 16 Prime Minister’s Questions ; Presented 10 petitions from local residents to Parliament ; Sat on Committees to scrutinise the Education Act, the Energy Act, the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Bill, and the Consumer Rights Bill; Tabled five parliamentary debates on issues you told her mattered to you.

From the party: We are passionate about close British-European cooperation, which benefits us and our allies. While we support a longer-term objective of EU membership, we recognise that the Conservatives have damaged trust in the UK so badly that there is a lot of work to do before that is possible. We have therefore set out a comprehensive step-by-step plan to rebuild our ties of trade, trust and friendship with our nearest neighbours – ties that can only be built back gradually over time.

Editor’s Note: I’ve noted the party’s pro-EU stance as few political parties have mentioned the elephant in the room when it comes to many issues. The Lib Dems are also known for their desire to bring in proportional representation which is a system in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales for their devolved parliaments although the system is not exactly the same for Scotland and Wales. Tessa has a real chance to win and for some she is favourite but Meg Powell-Chandler is recently edging it in local opinion polls.

More info: and


Meg Powell-Chandler, Conservative

From Meg: “I am absolutely thrilled to be selected as the Conservative candidate for Wells and Mendip Hills. Having spent weeks knocking on doors and speaking to local people they want an active champion who knows how to get things done – and I will be just that. I will be a bold champion for local communities and businesses, working day in and day out to deliver for the people of Wells and Mendip Hills.”

From the party and the PM: If we want to change our country, we have to change the way we do politics. For the last 30 years, politicians have resorted to short-term political decision-making, taking the easy way out rather than fixing the underlying problems. As Prime Minister, I will make the hard but necessary long-term decisions to get the country on the right path for a brighter future. And I’ll do this alongside delivering on our immediate priorities: Halve inflation to ease the cost of living and give people financial security. Grow the economy to better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country. Reduce debt to secure the future of public services. Cut waiting lists to get people the care they need more quickly. And stop the boats to end the unfairness of illegal migration.

Editor’s note: Wells and the Mendip Hills is for Meg to lose as she inherits a 9,991 majority and decades of Conservative success. It is likely to much closer – similar to the 2010 election when Tessa won with less than 1,000 majority – it could go either way. However the Conservatives have lost much safer seats in the last parliament so will be nervous. It depends if Meg can cut through to the locals in the weeks left for campaigning.

More info: and

Peter Welsh, Green Party

From Peter: Our waterways are a vital habitat for wildlife and an important source of green space for residents – but sewage dumps will continue for decades to come under current government plans. To protect our rivers and seas, we want water companies to be made accountable for what they are doing to end sewage discharges and clean up our waterways. The only sustainable way to run vital services like water is to put people ahead of profit – that’s why we would put water back into public hands. (From the Green Party.)

From the party: Our country is facing crises around the cost of living, in our public services and in our climate and environment. At the Green Party we have plans to improve everything that matters for families and communities. Greens across the country do things differently, always working to offer fair, green solutions that make life better for all. When we say “fairer and greener”, we mean it.

Editor’s Note: I can remember the proto–Green Party – the Ecology Party – back in the early 1970s. Since then, the Green Party has grown from a pressure group to holding office in Scotland and Germany and elsewhere and despite its fairly small representation in parliament is taken seriously by the other parties. It can be argued that their showing in elections has forced Labour and the Conservatives to change some of their policies. There is a chance the Greens could win a second seat – this time in Bristol – where they have real power in the City Council. Here however Peter has an uphill battle to make an impact – but every vote counts.

More info:  and

Notes from Harry

In 2019 James Heappey had 33,336 votes with Tessa Munt on 23,345, Labour’s Kama McKenzie had 4,304, with Dave Dobbs independent on 373 and Susie Quatemass Motherworld Party on 270 votes. That gave the Conservatives a majority of 9,991 – meaning by any measure this would be seen as a safe seat for them despite the change of candidate. However so much has changed since then with the Brexit Business Deal, the Covid 19 pandemic and Boris Johnson and Liz Truss coming and going from 10 Downing Street – all now history. The Partygate Scandal and the Cost of Living Crisis plus the Truss/Kwarteng Mini Budget changed the fortunes of the Conservative Party for the worse. All of which makes the task of Meg Powell-Chandler to hold the seat that much harder. However in the weeks left of the campaign anything can happen and those with long memories like me of the 1970 and 1991 elections when Labour were favourites to win but in the end lost – will know nothing is certain in elections.


Like several towns and cities in the South West its parliamentary representation dates to 1295 when as part of the Wells constiuency it had two MPs. The Reform Act of 1867 changed this archaic representation and in 1885 the seat had just one MP as modern politics finally took over from the era of Whigs and Tories when Sir Richard Paget became the sole Coonservative MP. The first known or rather named MP was Nicholas Christesham in 1386 who along with Thomes Phelpes represented Wells and the area that included Axbridge. Apart from three occasions when either the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats won the seat the Conservatives have a long period of success since the 19th century in representing the area which has changed hugely over the years. At this election the new boundary takes in Yatton but leaves out Burnham-on-Sea meaning a slightly different electorate.


I will do my best to be objective. I cover professionally Bath for a newspaper which has not dissimilar dynamics to Wells – although the current Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse will have to do spectacularly badly to lose.

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram for his own interest and those of residents.

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc