I was lucky enough to catch up with the new mayor of Horley, Councillor Martin Saunders, here’s what he had to say.
How long have you lived in Horley?
“I moved to Horley with my family in 2011 from Redhill. Our 3rd child was on his way and we needed more space. The Acres was being built in North East Horley which really caught our eye as a safe and welcoming neighbourhood.”
When and how did you get into politics?
“Moving to a new build estate has many benefits for a young family, but it’s fair to say it also has some challenges, especially with builders who weren’t delivering on their promises. I started The Acres Residents’ Association (TARA) as I wanted the community to have a stronger voice with the developers and councils, and to support the creation of a friendly, safe and caring community.
TARA grew phenomenally to over 1000 members, but despite this RAs still hold limited power, so it became apparent that I needed to step up and become an elected councillor to effectively represent my community.”
“I have Cllr Mike George to thank (or blame) for helping me start TARA and convincing me to join him as a councillor. I stood as an Independent RA candidate in 2019 and was very fortunate to be elected as a Horley Town Councillor, and then re-elected in 2023.”
What will be your biggest focus as Mayor of Horley?
“The strong perception of residents is that despite our population growing significantly in recent years, Horley hasn’t received the investment it deserves or the attention it needs. I want to ensure Horley gets more than its fair share of investment to catch up with Reigate and other more prosperous neighbouring towns.”
If you could change one thing about Horley at the click of a finger, what would it be?
“Tough question! Since the pandemic, I’ve run a project called Level Up Laptop Appeal which donates laptops to disadvantaged young people. Through that project, I’ve discovered that too many of our bright and hard-working youth don’t fulfil their potential because of money or other factors out of their control, so it’s this group I want to help the most. I strongly believe that education is one of the best paths to equality and prosperity and while Horley has some excellent schools, it lacks further education provision. Our young people must travel to Redhill, Reigate or Crawley on expensive and slow public transport to study beyond GSCE which creates a headwind to completing courses, especially for disadvantaged families. At the click of a finger, I’d bring further education to Horley, although I can’t do their homework for them!”
What’s your favourite thing about the town?
“Horley is a fantastic town with great travel links by train and air, lots of wonderful green spaces and plenty of things to do in the town centre. If I could put my finger on one thing though, it would be Horley’s community that I enjoy the most. Nowhere else in Surrey do you get the community events such as the carnival, remembrance parade, town fairs and celebrations. The town council, local charities and community groups work hard to bring everyone together in creative and enjoyable ways, we are so lucky to have such an incredible group of volunteers.”
What is your chosen charity? And why?
“Back to my earlier point that Horley needs greater investment, I wanted my Mayoral charity to exclusively benefit Horley residents. One charity that guarantees this is the Horley Edmonds Fund which is administered by Community Foundation for Surrey and Horley Town Council. The purpose of the fund is to support local charities, voluntary and community groups and individuals in need. “
Martin, we are so lucky to have you running our town and we are so excited for your future as Mayor. For more information on Mayor Martin Saunders and Horley Town Council, visit horleysurrey-tc.gov.uk/