And so the 4pm deadline passed down at Rowan House, and the CBC Comms Team were pretty pacy in publishing the runners and riders for the elections coming up on 7th May.
— Colchester Chronicle (@ColchChronic) April 9, 2015
This is always one of our FAVE periods in any election campaign. We get the whispers and nods beforehand as to what might be happening. But nothing is ever official until the CBC website springs into action.
And so what can we learn from the candidate names, proposers and agents that have now all been published?
It’s all pretty much to play for…
As a reminder, most residents in Sunny Colch will be able to vote in three elections: the General Election, the Borough Council BONKERS election by thirds, and for some, Parish and Town Council elections.
And whaddya know – we get to do it all over again in twelve months time when the boundary changes means that ALL of the Borough Council seats will be up for grabs again.
And so a few random thoughts as we eagerly work our way down the runners and riders:
We’re starting with the Borough Council elections. We’re already massively TURNED OFF by the General Election. Localism is where it is at.
The current composition of CBC is made up of 25 LibDems, 23 Conservatives, 8 Labour and 4 Highwoods and Stanway Independents.
This all leads to the WEIRD LibLab alliance that controls Cabinet.
TWENTY seats are being contested. ACE work from the Colchester Green Party who have managed to put up a candidate in all 20 of these wards.
You can Grill a Green at the Town Hall this Saturday from 2:30pm if you would rather avoid an afternoon of town centre shopping…
COME AND GRILL THE GREENS this Saturday, Colchester Town Hall from 2.30pm pic.twitter.com/oZisOdLbw3
— Colchester Green Pty (@ColcGreenParty) April 7, 2015
As for the other extreme of the breakdown of traditional three party politics?
Sadly no SNP candidates in Colchester, but UKIP are standing in 15 of the 20 wards. Clacton may only be across the borough border, but the Kippers have so far failed to make any significant breakthrough in our town.
This may all change of course. Throw in the spectacle of voting for a Westminster MP alongside a local election as you enter the voting booth, and strange things often take place…
But yeah – if you live in Castle, Fordham & Stour, St Andrew’s, Stanway or Wivenhoe Quay then you won’t get the chance to put a cross next to Mr or Mrs UKIP.
Next we need to clear up the political careerists.
We accept that Colchester is a relatively small town and that sometimes talent is lacking. It often is a case of finding a paper candidate to fill a space.
But we never had Cllr Will Quince or Cllr Tim Young down as simply paper candidates.
Both BIG HITTER fancy their chances at being both an MP and a borough Cllr.
We find this very odd…
Conservative Will Quince is standing once again in Prettygate as well as hoping to be the MP for the town.
Labour’s Tim Young is firmly embedded over on the Greenstead and the St Andrew’s ward – as well as rather fancying his chances as being the next MP for Clacton.
We’re not sure if this is ambition or simply a safety net, should the big gig at Westminster not quite work out at the ballot box.
Will has made his position clear, however.
— Will Quince (@willquince) April 9, 2015
So have others…
— Tom McLaughlin (@UnholyTom1980) April 9, 2015
— Michael Polom (@pmmikes) April 9, 2015
For all round party fairness it is also worth pointing out that UKIP’s Parliamentary candidate for Colchester, John Pitts, is also standing in Birch and Winstree.
LibDem Cllr for Castle ward, Jo Hayes is not up for election at CBC this time round. She is standing however to be the next MP over in Witham.
Likewise her LibDem colleague Dominic Graham. The Mile End Cllr is also the LibDem candidate in the General Election for Harwich and North Essex.
Let’s look at some of the CBC wards in a bit more detail.
Castle ward was expected to be something of a battle ground in 2015. Last year the LibDems just held Cllr Bill Frame’s seat with 25.8% of the vote. Tory activist Darius Laws was an incredibly close second on 24.1%. Labour’s Ben Howard was a respectable third with 17.8% of the vote.
This time it is Cllr Nick Barlow’s LibDem seat that is up for grabs with the Cabinet member standing down. Darius is once again running. Sadly Ben has withdrawn for personal reasons. This will be the seat that the Tories are targeting if they have any hope of taking control of the Town Hall.
Over in Mile End and fellow Tory activist Ben Locker will be playing another key role for the Conservatives if they want to be in power once again. Ben has been working the patch over the past two local elections. His time might just come in 2015.
Both Wivenhoe wards look set to be fascinating to watch as well. Up at the Cross and LibDem Mary Cory is standing once again.
Labour have traditionally put up a student work experience candidate. Not so this time. Phil Finn is a respected local face who has already started to fight for the seat.
It’s all about the small margins for the Comrades of the Colchester Labour Party. The likes of Cllr Tim Young and Cllr Tina Bourne need these seats if they want to hold on to their Cabinet positions. One more Labour seat gives the Comrades a little more bargaining power, should the LibDems need another coalition.
Down at Wivenhoe Quay and we can’t but help feel slightly sorry for Comrade Rosalind Scott. Having won a very emotional by-election 12 months ago after the death of Cllr Steve Ford, Cllr Scott’s seat is up for grabs again.
Last year she managed 46.7% share of the vote against a very strong challenge from well known local Conservative Peter Hill, who picked up 34.3% of the vote. The two candidates are facing up to one another once again in 2015.
West Bergholt and Eight Ash Green is slightly odd – and not just in terms of the name of the ward.
SEVEN candidates are contesting the seat with an Independent and a Patriotic Socialist Party Comrade being thrown into the mix.
Over in West Mersea and former Colchester Borough Homes Chair Alison Inman is standing for Labour. With Cllr Margaret Kimberley standing down, this could be another happy hunting ground for Labour if they are able to mobilise the troops over in West Mersea.
Watch out for that tide…
And so that is our first thoughts on the CBC local elections. We are deliberately relegating the General Election to lower down the blog post.
No great surprises here: six candidates for Colchester, six white males.
Over in Harwich and North Essex and it is a similar picture: five candidates, five white males.
The Christian People’s Party will at least add a little variety to the Colchester constituency. We were expecting a TUSC candidate, but that seems to have not quite worked out for the Comrades.
It is also worth pointing out that Mark Hughes, the UKIP candidate for Harwich and North Essex appears to live in East Hertfordshire.
Good luck with Greater Anglia on that one, fella.
The only thing for certain we can say is that CBC will have a new Leader after this set of local elections. LibDem Cllr Martin Hunt is standing down from his Christ Church ward. He was first elected in 1984.
We will either have a new LibDem Leader at CBC, or Willetts World will be imposed under Conservative Control.
It’s not just the Leadership that will change either. The very substance of CBC is up for grabs next month.
More of the same with the WEIRD LibLab alliance, or CBC as a Commissioning Council, something that Cllr Willetts has made it quite clear he will have no hesitation in introducing.
The staff headcount will be wiped out. All jobs where possible will be pimped out at the cheapest price to the price sector.
Quite a choice coming up…