About John Cope


I’m standing to be your next Member of Parliament for Esher, Walton, Hersham, Oatlands, Molesey, Claygate, Thames Ditton, Long Ditton, Burwood Park, Hinchley Wood, Fieldcommon, West End, Weston Green, and Lower Green.

I’ve lived between Hersham and Walton for many years with my partner and dog, as well as being elected to serve my local community as a local councillor in Elmbridge.

So I’ve seen first-hand what a great community we have, but also the problems that need fixing.

You can read more about what I've achieved for our area by clicking here.

You can also tell me what your priorities are by clicking here.


Why I'm standing

What drove me into politics is making sure that regardless of a person’s background, they get an excellent education, a great job, a chance to buy an affordable home, a safe neighbourhood to live in, and green spaces to enjoy. In one word: opportunity.

This is because access to opportunity changed my life. I was born on a council estate to a 14-year-old girl before going into foster care and being adopted by my family. My mum and dad worked exceptionally hard to give me the best upbringing they could. Their support helped me become one of the first in my family to get A Levels, and the very first to go to university.

The problem is, far too many people don't get that second chance. So I’m standing for Parliament to help people in our area - which I’m passionate about as a local councillor - and address the root causes of problems, help fix the system, and keep knocking down barriers to opportunity.

It’s why I’ve also dedicated my career to education, adult learning, and apprenticeships. I’m currently an executive director at the charity UCAS - the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service - which helps over a million people each year get the support they need to make life-changing decisions. I therefore see the transformative power of education every day, including in our area, where the number of schools rated by Ofsted as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ has risen from 69% in 2010 to 93% today. We must get this to 100%.

My proudest achievement at UCAS has been driving forward our expansion into apprenticeships for the first time. Academic study works for many, but not all. It's been great to see job boosting and life changing apprenticeships expand significantly in our area, with nearly 5,000 new apprenticeships started in Esher and Walton alone since 2010.

As well as a passion for education, I want to see business flourish in our area.

This includes smaller, local, independent companies, like my dad’s. He sold machinery and parts to factories, and I saw the extra mile he went to keep his shop going: bending over backwards for customers, supporting his staff, and working weekends to keep the ship afloat. Businesses like these are often the backbone of our high street and our economy, as well as making up the supply chains of larger firms. We must back local businesses and entrepreneurs - and critically, cut the taxes they pay so they can hire more local people and invest in the company.

Despite the best intentions, I think government and regulation can get in the way of business too often. I believe passionately we need to make it easier for companies to grow, to employ and train people, and to innovate. Not just to provide people with a good salary, but also to fund public services like the NHS: a growing economy means more tax income for the Government to provide a safety net for those who need it most.


What has John achieved for the area already?

The Conservatives haven’t run Elmbridge Borough Council for almost seven years. As the leader of the opposition group on the Council, I’ve worked hard to stop the neglect of our area that very sadly residents have just started to accept as the norm: too few genuinely affordable homes; green spaces disappearing; tired and sad high streets; and one of the highest council tax bills in the country landing on our doormats. But why? It's the price of years of a Liberal Democrat-dominated council that’s made empty promises while charging us through the roof on council tax - they're infamous for it around the country.

We’ve worked hard to hold them to account for this.

I’ve led Conservative councillors in stopping the Lib Dems from closing our historic Walton Playhouse, and successfully prevented them removing the paddling pools our local children enjoy. We’re still fighting their plans to close the Thames Ditton and Claygate community centres.

I launched a petition against massive increases in council parking charges, and the removal of free parking that has hit our local high streets hard. I’ve secured sensible measures to prevent dangerous driving and speeding to protect our children and people with disabilities, and successfully won the argument for step-free access at Walton Station via a new bridge. Constructing a bridge at Esher Station and improving Hersham Station are next on my list. As is returning Hampton Court Station to its previous glory after much-delayed works rumble on.

I’ve held the Environment Agency to account for not tackling unauthorised moorings on the Thames, together with the anti-social behaviour and pollution that comes with them. Boats have been removed and new orders issued on some of those remaining.

I’ve fought for those in social housing in our borough who have for too long been abandoned by the Council in low-quality PA Housing. A new “Tenant’s Charter” of minimum standards is being established as a result.

And finally, I’ve battled against the Lib Dem-backed attack on local businesses and the less well-off that is the ULEZ charge.

As well as these campaigns, the Conservative Government has enabled real improvements locally. We now have a record number of police officers protecting our streets; we’ve got the brand-new Walton Free School being built; the new state-of-the-art Three Rivers Academy is up and running; the vast financial support during the pandemic that saved millions of jobs and many businesses, as well as help with household and business energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis caused by the attack on Ukraine.

With your support and your vote, I can ensure the Government continues delivering for our area. You can read more about my plan for our areas here, as well as sharing your thoughts.

If you have any questions, please email me at john@johncope.uk, and share any local events, charities, and workplaces you’d like me to visit. I’d love to hear from you.