Candidate Profile: Chris White

FEW people have lost an election by a smaller margin, and few have more riding on the outcome of the next one, than Cllr Chris White.

In 2005, the Conservative fell short of winning the Warwick and Leamington seat by just 266 votes. Then the goalposts, or rather the boundaries, moved.

A new Kenilworth and Southam constituency took rural areas away, giving Labour an apparent majority.

The rise of David Cameron and the Government's declining fortunes put the seat within reach - or at least 98th most winnable. The seat was a key marginal, a two-way race that would give the Tories a majority of two if they won.

Then in another twist the first leader's debate put the Liberal Democrats ahead in some national polls. Cllr White is not making any predictions.

He said: "It's difficult enough predicting what our vote will be.

"We're still getting used to the political environment with debates and things that haven't happened before."

Born in Australia in 1967, Cllr White grew up in Tunbridge Wells and went to a comprehensive school before studying engineering and business administration.

He worked for 14 years in manufacturing, including seven-years at MG Rover in Longbridge before taking voluntary redundancy in 2005.

The 42-year-old has been involved in politics since his late 20s, attempting to become a councillor in Chester before campaigning, and losing, as a parliamentary candidate in Hall Green.

In 2003 he moved to Warwick and Leamington and was elected as a district councillor in 2007.

Most recently, he drew on his background in manufacturing to arrange an 'energy forum' of firms including Calor, Baxi Potterton and AgaRangemaster as well as Warwickshire College to discuss how they could work together and make the area a national and international leader in green manufacturing.

Cllr White said: "It has massive potential. The skill base that's here and the educational opportunities. Assembling a car needs the same sort of skills as assembling a solar panel."

An occasional churchgoer, Cllr White admits to having few hobbies, but is a trustee of Bath Place Community Venture and the Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs.

He has campaigned on issues such as housing and fire station closures and praises residents' readiness to protest and defend their area, as well as the two towns' sense of identity as an "oasis" of independent shops.

He said: "My values are driven by the community in which I live and which I try to serve in whichever way possible. I find it personally rewarding.

"The main thing for me is community and how we work as as society."