Saddle Up – Runners & Riders in CBC Local Elections

And so the runners and riders have entered the jockey’s enclosure ahead of the Colchester Borough Council elections taking place on 3rd May.

Which ones would you like to mount?

Um…

First off how about a course inspection.

The outlook is good to firm for the LibLabIndie coalition of convenience.

By contrast it appears HARD for the Conservatives.

The BONKERS election by third system means that 17 seats are up for grabs next May. These are the Cllr’s in the 17 wards who finished third place in the all out elections of two years ago.

It’s a run off for the Cllr’s who only managed to clear the final hurdle. We’re not talking champion studs here.

CBC itself is made up of 51 Cllr’s across the 17 wards. The largest party is currently the Conservatives with 23 seats.

But size isn’t everything.

The blue rinse lot are denied the chance to form an administration thanks to a marriage of convenience between the LibDems (14 seats), Labour (11) and the Highwoods Indies (3).

Our back of a fag packet calculation tells you that the Tories fall three short from taking power.

In other words they need to retain their current seats in May, and then take three off the other parties.

We did hear a DELICIOUS rumour overnight about the possibility of a ConDem coalition in Sunny Colch, come the morning of 4th May…

It’s a tough ask for the Tories – taking three seats, not getting into bed with the LibDems…

The opposition candidates that they need to boot out are well established figures in their communities.

There are some obvious hardcore Labour seats such as Greenstead, where even a hypothetical highly unpopular high horse of a Labour candidate will of course win.

The three seats that the Conservatives look like targeting are Mile End, New Town & Christchurch and St Anne’s & St John’s. All three are currently wishy washy LibDem stomping grounds.

But what of the candidates?

First off a HUGE hurrah for the Greens who have managed to put up a candidate in every ward. This is something that Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley was keen to stress at the launch of his party’s campaign this week.

Also an even HUGER hurrah for UKIP who appeared to have buggered off.

NO candidates for UKIP appear on the Sunny Colch ballot paper, compared to twenty in the all out election two years ago.

Shut the door behind you on the way out, losers.

There is also the rather intriguing prospect of Indies standing at Greenstead, Marks Tey & Leyer, Mersea & Pyfleet, New Town & Christ Church, Old Heath & Hythe, Shrub End and St Anne’s & St John’s.

Disclaimer: the rather ‘lively’ collective of Indies are most certainly not to be confused with the Establishment Highwoods Indies.

SPLITTERS, etc.

But the main parties don’t like it up ’em.

The Indies are unpredictable; they offer a sense of mischief.

They may not win a seat, but they will cause havoc with the established polling data that the three main parties rely upon.

We saw this in Wivenhoe ward back in 2016 with the Wiv Indies (bless ’em) keeping out Labour’s Phil Finn.

Righto – heads down, here are some of the key battle grounds that The Chronic will be keeping an eye on…

Berechurch should be a Labour hold for Martyn Warnes. He has found his feet at the Town Hall and makes useful contributions in the chamber.

Castle ward however…

Ha, bloody ha.

This is MESSY.

It is the Group of Death in Sunny Colch.

It is there for the Tories to lose with outgoing candidate Daniel Ellis stepping down.

Jo Hayes returns for the LibDems.

*some* may be hoping that Jo Hayes departs just as quickly once again – including possibly some in her own party…

Labour’s Norma Dinnie-Weall is something of an unknown. Previous Labour candidates have polled well in the ward.

Likewise for Mark Goacher of the Greens. This is THE target seat for his party. Mark is a decent campaigner and often has Cabinet on the racks during Have Your Say.

Castle ward could be going to penalties at 3am with recounts of the recounts…

Not so in Greenstead. Labour’s Tina Bourne will walk it, and then walk right back into a cushy cabinet role – assuming her party get to play a bit part in forming an administration.

Highwoods ought to be a battleground where some real action takes place.

But it won’t.

We still fail to see the point of the Highwoods ‘Indies’ – a group that appears to trade upon its independent status, yet enjoys sucking up to The Establishment and a Cabinet role.

Fancy that.

What is so independent at doing what the LibLab big boys tell you to do?

But yeah.

Indie Phil Oxford will keep it in the family once again, despite a decent fight from Conservative Stephen Rowe.

All roads lead to Tory Brian Jarvis retaining his seat in Lexden & Braiswick; likewise for Jackie MaClean in Marks Tey & Layer.

Mersea & Pyfleet might see the sinking of Conservative Robert Davidson. Indie John Akker is a half decent campaigner on the island. He was far from splendid isolation when he made a name for himself last year on Question Time.

Mile End should be a LibDem hold, but newcomer David King is something of an unknown.

#WeMissDom

New Town & Christ Church is something of a surprise in that Cabinet member Annie Feltham is not standing. Instead we have Catherine Spindler wearing the yellow rosette.

The Tories are looking towards the experience of Annesley Hardy – an ex-Cllr who fell foul of the ward boundary changes two years ago.

Old Heath & The Hythe is the new adopted territory of Labour’s Lee Scordis. This is unlikely to change now that the Nu Labour boy has been muzzled online.

Prettygate is Tory territory. Roger Buston should be a shoe in.

It’s interesting to see that Mike Dale has been put up by Labour. He took a bruising in the Battle of Shrub End last September. At least his campaign for 2018 won’t be playing catch up like the delayed start last year.

The Rural North is OWNED by Conservative Peter Chillingworth. Not literally, but you get the point…

And then we get to Shrub End.

This was the battleground when the LibLab love in finally shattered in the public gaze for all to see during the by-election last year.

It was a very undignified way for Cabinet colleagues to kick the shit out of each other online.

The victor last year was Tory Vic Flores. His party colleague Pauline Hazell looks favourite to retain her seat.

It is ACE to see Indie scamp Michael Clark giving it another go. Ditto for LibDem Sam McCarthy.

It would be a seismic shock if CBC Leader Paul Smith loses his St Anne’s and St John’s LibDem seat. It would also leave the CBC Cabinet with something of an intelligence bypass.

Conservative Christopher Hayter will be hoping that he is the candidate to flick the off switch on the LibLabIndie coalition.

LibDem Jessica Scott-Boutell looks safe in Stanway. She is still finding her feet in Cabinet. She has impressed in sorting out the Waste and Recycling review that was dumped on her.

Derek Loveland should retain his Tory seat in Tiptree. Not a lot else to see here.

And then we arrive at Wivenhoe.

Oh Lordy.

Make no mistake – this is a highly personal battle between Labour’s Rosalind Scott who is fighting to retain her seat against the challenge of LidDem Andrea Luxford Vaughan.

Policy should rise above personalities.

It didn’t help though when Scott accused her challenger of being drunk at a Wivenhoe Town Council election count – first off via her public Facebook page, and then repeating the allegation via the local rag.

It is an allegation that the CBC Returning Officer ruled out.

It may be significant as to which party takes Wivenhoe. If Labour lose the seat then the balance of power tilts slightly in favour of the LibDems around the Cabinet table.

And these two parties are partners?

The result is expected around 3am on 4th May. It will probably be called earlier once the key seats are announced.

As for the outcome?

It’s difficult to see beyond a change in the current status quo tbh. Seats rarely change hands in these BONKERS elections by thirds.

The Tories will need to retain Castle, plus take three elsewhere.

The deadline to register to vote is 17th April.

Giddy up.

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