In July 2009 a group of eight disillusioned Herefordians met in the back room of the Bowling Green public house. Though the meeting didn’t quite have the air of Guy Fawkes’ first meeting, it was clear from the outset that all those present were heartily sick of the county’s ruling administration and its tactics and wanted to see the back of them.
The eight resolved to recruit friends through word of mouth and the first formerly-minuted meeting of the group took place at the Kindle Centre on 30 July 2009, when it was decided to adopt the name Herefordshire First. Peter Cocks, who had been Treasurer of the highly-successful campaign to oppose a large housing development in Bullingham, was chosen as the group’s chairman.
At around this time, a parallel group of activists had started a campaign (called Its Our City) led by Mark Hubbard, an independent councillor on the county council. The campaign was opposed to the comprehensive redevelopment of the city-owned Livestock Market with a massive retail sector. The popularity of It’s Our City’s cause was so rapid that within four months it had collected 10,000 signatures for a petition, which was delivered to the Council in November 2010. Herefordshire First and It’s Our City, which each had their eyes focussed on the May 2011 local government elections, decided to join forces in January 2010 and merge their resources and memberships under the new title Its Our County.
In April 2010, Hubbard persuaded two fellow independents on the council to come together as a formerly-recognised political group and by August 2010 their numbers had grown to five. The party had its official public launch on 16 September 2010. The death of one of the group of five IOC councillors (Cllr Dave Benjamin) triggered a by-election in October 2010, which IOC won with a landslide. With a membership of around 200, IOC held its first AGM on 19 January 2011, re-electing Peter Cocks (Chairman) and Mark Hubbard (Leader).
On 5 May 2011, IOC won 9 seats in the local elections. Shortly afterwards the political grouping on Herefordshire Council became 10, as newly elected Green candidate Felicity Norman joined the group.