NEWLY elected district councillor Martin Baxendale is hoping he can continue to protect the Slad Valley from future development in his new role.

Cllr Baxendale (Green) was elected to represent the Valley ward at Stroud District Council on Thursday with 291 votes.

Just beating Labour candidate James Heslop who gained 230 votes.

The seat at the district council remains Green after MEP Molly Scott Cato stood down following her election to the European Parliament in May.

UKIP’s candidate Stuart Francis-Love received 76 votes, the Conservative candidate Stephen Davies came in fourth with 67 and Lucille Roderina Christina Roberts from Trade Unionists and Socialists against Cuts received 16 votes.

Cllr Baxendale, who lives in Bisley Road, Stroud, said he was not that surprised that the race was so close between the Greens and Labour but was confident of the support for the party in the ward.

“The seat has been Green for 11 years so we were confident that we had the support in the ward – we just hoped we could get them to go out and vote,” said Cllr Baxendale, a grandfather of two.

This is his second election to the district council.

He was first elected to represent Rodborough almost 20 years ago serving four years on the council.

Cllr Baxendale also spent some time sitting on Stroud Town Council and was at one point the town’s deputy mayor under fellow district councillor John Marjoram.

“At first I will be directly replacing Molly and taking her seat on the Audit committee. However, my real interest is planning,” said Cllr Baxendale, who runs his own cartoon humour book publishing business, SBD Publications, with his wife Ivi.

“The last time I was a member of the district council I spent some time as chairman of the planning committee and at the time we were very influential in saving a number of beach trees in Stratford Park from being cut down for the Tesco store.

“I was also part of the campaign to stop hundreds of houses being built on the Painswick Valley when the council first began working on its local plan.

“Now I am ready to keep up the fight to save the Slad Valley from any future development.”

Plans to build 112 houses on Baxter’s Field was one of the main reasons Cllr Baxendale decided to stand for election.

“At the time we were still unsure whether the developers would win the appeal and even though the Valley has been saved for now it is such an important part of the district and needs long-term protection,” said Cllr Baxendale, whose father Leo was also a cartoonist and the creator of the classic Beano strips Little Plum, Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids and The Three Bears.

“I am interested in [protecting] the valley’s character.”