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Pre Election Review

Pre Election ReviewPart 1:
Analysis of the Current Position

On Wednesday last week, the period for nominations to become a Councillor closed, and the 'Statement of Persons Nominated' was published by Fylde Council. 

You can follow this link to see the Borough Council Candidates, and this next one for the Parish and Town Councils. 

So far as the Borough Council is concerned, it turns out there are three uncontested wards - Elswick & Little Eccleston, Singleton, and Staining - which returns two councillors. 

So Paul Hayhurst, Maxine Chew, Albert Pounder and John Singleton will be returned as Councillors without an election being held in their wards. 

In all the other Fylde Borough wards, more people were nominated than there are places for Councillors, so unless anyone withdraws by mid day tomorrow, on Wednesday 11th April (always a possibility), there will be a contest in each of these wards.

The Conservatives appear to be contesting every seat in every ward - that is, they are putting up three candidates in a ward that returns three councillors (with around 3,000 voters) and one that returns one councillor (with around 1,000 voters). 

There are odd exceptions - for example in Freckleton West, there appears to be no Conservative Candidate, but Trevor Fiddler, who was 'Independent', then became a 'Truly Independent' before leaving them to accept a senior role in the Development Control Committee, has, since then, voted as though he were a Conservative. So there may be an assumption that this will continue.

Contesting all seats in a multi-seat ward is quite a dangerous strategy, because you can end up competing against your colleagues as well as against the other candidates - and often in a conservative area like this, people will vote once or twice for the Conservative, and give their third vote (in a three Councillor Ward) to 'the outsider' This can mean a perfectly good, but 'least popular' Conservative misses out.

So what of the others? Well, the Liberal Democrats are out in force, but mostly in particular wards. They are strongly contesting Ashton, Kilnhouse, and St Leonards, with individual candidates in other wards elsewhere.

The Independents and Ratepayers who, as we reported in 'Declaration of Independents' are working together to get rid of the awful cabinet system that has destroyed democracy in Fylde, are fielding mostly one candidate in each ward, with two in some, but they seem to be leaving the way clear for the Liberal Democrats in other wards.

This looks as though the Commissar's overt party political belligerence has the rather perverse effect of uniting the opposition against him. Interesting.

Things we have noticed from the listing include:

  • One Liberal Democrat appears to have had an error of some sort in their nomination form and has been ruled ineligible to stand.
  • Several Conservatives who were expected to retire have not done so, suggesting they have been persuaded to stand again, which itself suggests they're having difficulty fielding enough candidates.
  • Saint Barbara Pagett is standing as an Independent Candidate in Ashton Ward, after being suspended by the Conservative Party for voting with her conscience against the Cabinet system, after which she left the Conservative fold. She stands with one other Independent (John Davies, who carries the Ratepayer banner), and two Liberal Democrats, Tony Ford and Brian Bullick, against three Conservatives. 
  • Ashton looks to be a particularly strongly contested ward, and the Conservatives are fielding new-boy Mike Knowles who cut his teeth on the St Annes Town Council, but looks to be risking all on the Borough Council this year, because he is not standing for the Town Council again.
  • Chairman of St Annes Town Council - Barbara Mackenzie is taking on the sitting Conservatives in Central Ward, and veteran of the 'Keep Lytham Information Centre Open' campaign - Ken Hopwood - is standing (as an Independent) in Clifton Ward Lytham. It will be interesting to see if he sweeps to power just as Saint Barbara Pagett did after the Save Ashton Gardens campaign she led.
  • We also note that Conservative strong man John Tavernor is standing again. He led the Council for many years and has a wealth of experience. He is about the only person we know with the courage and ability to take on the Commissar and win, and if he is elected, you can expect to hear about blood on the floor, (but you won't be allowed to see it) and maybe we will see more sensible policies from them. We wish him well.

    This information was inaccurate. Thanks to Simon for pointing it out. We must have been dreaming it might  happen!

  • In Freckleton, attractive newcomer and 19-year-old Kate Little is standing as a Liberal Democrat against Kiran Mulholand who professes independence but, like Trevor Fiddler, seems to vote Conservative as if he were a party member. She also faces a formal Conservative and Independent Tommy Threlfall.
  • The contestants in Heyhouses are really interesting. The Commissar is there of course, but we also have David Chedd who hails from Elswick, and will no doubt get supported by Paul (The Mauler) Hayhurst who will have time on his hands because his own seat is uncontested. The Commissar is also facing two experienced old stagers, David Meldrum for Labour and ex County Councillor Anne Smith for the Liberal democrats.
  • Notable newcomers in Kilnhouse include teacher Chris Marshall for the Liberal Democrats, and Independent/Ratepayer Dave Serella, who has stong footballing credentials, and a history of milk delivery - so the leaflets ought to be a picnic for him!
  • Kirkham sees counterbalance's oft-quoted local 'monarch' Queen Elizabeth Oades standing again of course, and she is supported in the neighbouring Kirkham ward by Silverdell book and speciality ice cream shop owner Elaine Silverwood. Given her publicity skills she should be home and dry. If that happens, it might remind the commissar to pay a bit more attention to the good folks in Kirkham, and not to threaten them with charging for their car park and closing their swimming pool.

    There are others as well.

So what's the result of the Borough election going to be?

The answer is it's a bit too close to call at present. There's still time for both glory and disaster to visit individual campaigns, and that can skew results that would otherwise go differently.

But sniffing the air, we suspect some change. We think the Conservatives will lose a few seats, the Liberal Democrats will pick up an odd one or two extra, and the Independents/Ratepayers will gain three or four. 

So at this stage, we're predicting no overall control, probably with a gap that is too big for the Commissar to bridge by seducing individuals with weak political integrity to his cause.

We'll keep you posted.

Part 2 - Hey Ho
On a lighter note......one of our readers recently moved house and has also moved wards. He told us: "I am now in the enviable position of being in Heyhouses, the Ward of John Coombes......" though we doubt that either of them is going to find this a truly satisfying experience.

He also mentioned that the Heyhouses Harrier - Conservatives in Touch - Issue 11 leaflet had popped through his door. Some of the points he noted are worth sharing.

First, he doesn't approve of Craig Halewood being described in the leaflet as a 'Prospective Candidate', and he wonders if that is what they mean, or whether Craig is really going to stand.

He also thinks the description is meant to make us think that John Coombes and Keith Hyde are already elected, and thus enjoy some sort of 'ex-officio' status, so we have to elect them again, but we have a choice whether to elect Craig or not.

He is also distressed about the waste of money that counterbalance has previously mentioned, with 8,000 being wasted trying to control Spartina grass on the beach, and 1,500 being allocated to "start" 25,000 a parking survey.

The irritation isn't made any better by a statement in the leaflet that says 'Surely 95% of the Conservatives in England can't be wrong?' From a purely factual point of view, he asks, "Why not? "

We tend to agree, given that at one time that sort of proportion of people also (apparently) thought you could fall off the edge of the earth.

But the most amusing point he makes is that he has visited the Commisar's website and was stunned to see the hit counter showing 098324. 

He noted that this is more then the total people in the Borough, and the site is only for Heyhouses.

He tells us he expected that some clever person in Central Office had showed them how to bombard the site with hits, to build up the counter and demonstrate support for Conservatives. 

But he checked again 3 minutes later and it had increased - to 334538 !!!,

3 minutes later, it was 802831, it seemed unstoppable, but a few minutes later sanity had returned and the figure had dropped down to 217825, and the last time he looked it was 173823.

We suspect our reader shares our view that, given the results he saw, the Commissar's skill with his hit counter matches his skill at managing our council tax spending - they are both awful.

We can't help a wry smile at the prospect of the Commissar ringing our reader's doorbell and asking for his support in the election. 

We think the exchange might be audible in Preston.

Part3  -  Battle for the Truth
In 'The Eyes Have It' we highlighted a new satirical website that parodies the characters from the Lord of the Rings story, casting the Conservatives as the goodies, and almost everyone else (including counterbalance) as the baddies. That says it all really.

It's all good knockabout stuff, and mostly harmless. To be honest, we think you have to be something of a political insider to be able to understand it, but it is worth a look.

It's also not strong on accuracy, but again, it doesn't make any claim to be accurate - even its title - "Battle for the Truth" is somewhat ambiguous. We think "Struggle for the Truth" would be clearer, but then, it's a free country (or at least it was until Blair and Co got their hands on it).

Generally, we don't respond to the comments made there by 'the elves', but there is one comment that is plain wrong, and we need to correct it.

The latest chronicle includes the comment "A golden handshake gifted to Sauron by Saruman ensured that the Dark Lord had the much needed funding to finance the building of the Counterbalance. Many villagers unaware that this agreement will be funded from their taxes until Sauron leaves middle earth."

For those unfamiliar with the character names, this quote is insinuating that counterbalance is/was funded by politicians, and that it is funded from public taxation. 

Neither of these suggestions is true. 

Counterbalance was first published just over three years ago in February 2004. It is entirely independent. Its setup costs (such as they are) were met from a personal domestic bank account. It is, and will remain, privately funded to ensure its independence. No money of any kind has ever been paid into that account by any politician, nor has money from anyone's taxes. 

counterbalance is beholden to no-one. 

Just wanted to make that clear.

Dated:  10 April 2007


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