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LCC Elections 2009 - Runners & Riders

LCC Elections 2009 - Runners & RidersThe wonderfully named "Statement of Persons Nominated" for the County Council Election has been published. This sets out the names of those who have declared an intention to stand for election. The document also provides the list of the people who have proposed, seconded and supported them in that aim.

This is not always the final list, because it is possible for one or more to withdraw, (as one indeed has this time as we will explain).

A cautionary note first though. We're not trying to influence your opinion here, just giving our personal view. There are some we don't know at all, so apologies to them.

We do think the Conservatives are starting at a disadvantage this time. This administration is deeply unpopular amongst most of our regular readers, and as such, we think quite a bit of the normal or natural vote for the party will be compromised by disaffection with the individuals concerned.

There are six County wards in Fylde each with something like 9,000 or 10,000 voters.

FYLDE EAST
(Kirkham, Wesham, Treales and Newton). Three candidates here. If experience is anything to go by, this ward is likely to be one of the most bitter electoral contests of the election.

Dennis Davenport (Labour).
Nice man, local to Fylde, intelligent and sharp witted. From our (limited) experience, not wildly left or insipidly centrist New Labour, just common sense social values. Sadly, not much hope of being elected. Labour generally is not a good label to wear in Fylde, but you have to admire their persistence.

Liz Oades (Independent)
Our own Queen Elizabeth Oades of Kirkham. The sitting County Councillor. Extremely well known and respected in Kirkham and around the surrounding area. Independent councillors are a very rare breed on the highly party political County Council, and you need something special to get elected as an independent. She has the magic, and we think she will be returned as County Councillor again.

Simon Renwick (Conservative)
A very busy and hard-working younger Fylde Borough Councillor. Technologically adept, with a politically aggressive style that endears him to few of what he would call 'the opposition.' As we've said before, he is your walking, breathing Conservative, and with the party machine available to him will put up a strong fight. It's possible he could just take the crown from Queen Elizabeth, but barring any surprises, we suspect he will just miss out in a hard fight.

FYLDE SOUTH
(Freckleton, Warton. Wrea Green). Five candidates here. These areas are a really strange mix of bedfellows and probably one of the more difficult wards to canvas in because of the wide range of constituents. It's also one of he most difficult to call, because there are at least three sitting Borough Councillors who are seasoned and experienced campaigners. This vacancy is caused by the retirement of County Councilor Bernard Whittle, a proper, old-fashined conservative. We wish him well in retirement. Standing this time are:

Anne Fielding (Liberal Democrat)
Wife of Bob Fielding who took the Fairhaven seat on St Anne's Town Council earlier this year. Not on the Borough or Town Council, but she is a seasoned campaigner, capable and efficient. But suffers the disadvantage of not being 'local' and against some of her opposition, that will be a big drawback.

Kiran Mulholland (Independent)
Local man with post office credentials. Like a chemist, hairdresser or newsagent, a post office is the place to get your name known in the local community. That said, he is a Freckleton man, and will probably be less well known in say, Wrea Green. He is a very able thinker and not afraid to speak his mind, sometimes rather bluntly for some. Good local councillor who is classed as 'Individually Non Aligned' on the Borough Council and whose voting pattern often, but not always, seems akin to that of his conservative colleagues on Fylde Council.

Louis Rigby (Independent)
A cheerful, practical, common-sense, well known and experienced councillor who sits as an Independent on the Borough Council. His natural inclination also tends toward the conservative perspective but, as with the best councillors, he comes ftted with a common-sense override control that he is not afraid to use if something needs common sesnse applying to it. Has to be in with a good chance. Might suffer from some confusion with the other 'Rigby' who is standing in this ward.

Paul Rigby (Conservative)
The 'other' Rigby. Well respected as a Parish Councillor. Suffered some negative publicity for being Fylde's Portfolio Holder for 'Finance and Efficiency' when they lost huge amounts of cash in the last year or so, and famed for his Anglo-Saxon expletive at THAT budget meeting, but he will be supported by the party machine. This ward has a strong rural / agricultural electorate and a Conservative could be expected to do well here. We think it will be a balance between the negativity of being associated with the Cabinet's financial debacles, and the positives conferred by the party name.

Bill Taylor (Labour)
We don't know him personally, but he has a reputation for being a stalwart, old labour war-horse.

FYLDE WEST
(Elswick, Little Eccleston, Singleton, Greenhalgh, Staining, Weeton, Westby, and Park ward in St Annes). An awful, incongruous monster of a ward, even worse than the previous one. Imagine framing policies that will appeal to the needs of Cypress Point residents, caravan dwellers in Little Eccleston, isolated rural farms in Westby and those who probably have more affinity with urban Blackpool living on the fringe of Staining, It's the 'mission impossible' ward of this election, and another with five candidates, (at least at the moment).

As an aside at this point, this is the ward from which Conservative County Councillor Joyce Stewart is standing down to retire. She is a proper councillor and a real gem of a lady. We wish her well in retirement, but even more, we wish we could see people like her swimming in the waters of the Conservative pond. Alas we do not.

David Chedd (Independent)    * NOW  WITHDRAWN
Experienced Elswick parish councillor and now also a Park Ward Fylde Borough Councillor. Quiet, thoughtful, steady, and clear thinking. He is into green issues and handles technology competently. Good friend of Saint Paul Hayhurst (See below). We thought it was very unusual to see Cllr Chedd's name standing in competition against him. UPDATE: Since first writing this item, Cllr Chedd has, in fact, withdrawn his candidacy. We are not at all surprised at this move (see below).

John Graddon (Liberal Democrat)
Former editor of a very popular 'In Focus' monthly newsletter booklet publication in the east of Fylde Borough. His name will be quite well known because of that, and is likely to counteract the slightly negative fact that he now lives in St Annes - which is outside the ward for which he is standing.

Paul Hayhurst (Independent)
'Saint Paul' as our readers know him is probably the most able and experienced councillor on Fylde Borough. He has an impregnable fiefdom in Elswick where no-one else has the nerve to challenge him in Borough and Parish elections. If he stands, the residents of Fylde West probably couldn't do better for a champion. We strongly suspected either he or David Chedd would withdraw before the closing date for withdrawals. In the end it was David Chedd who withdrew. Sometimes, candidacies and withdrawals like this are a strategy. They can confound your opposition - who can't finalise their election leaflets until they know who is actually standing against them.

Anthony Lambert (Labour)
We don't know him at all. Gives his address as Burnley, so he may well be what is known as a 'paper candidate' - a makeweight to help Labour maintain its profile and provide someone for its supporters to vote for. We think he is unlikely to do anything serious, nor will he be much of a problem for anyone else.

Janet Wardell (Conservative)
From Wrea Green (which is actually outside this ward) where she is a Parish Councillor, and also secretary of the Cricket Club. Sadly she another we don't have personal knowledge of. But anyone standing as a Conservative gets well supported with leaflet deliverers and canvassers, so they can't be dismissed. However, whilst she has a strong profile in Wrea Green, we don't think she has the profile to take this monster ward overall.

LYTHAM
(Fylde Borough wards of St Johns, Clifton and Ansdell). A compact but in some ways also difficult ward. St Johns Ward stands out with a very different demographic profile (younger and with families) to the rest of this ward, and often produces a Borough Councillor with a different value set to most of the Fylde members.

Tom Armer (Liberal Democrat)
Sorry to say we have no knowledge of Tom at all, so all we can really say is that the Lib Dems have a street level organisation that is probably near equal to the Conservatives, so they can't be written off.

Tim Ashton (Conservative)
Normally, as the sitting County Councillor, we would expect this to be a shoe-in - and indeed it may well be. He pulled a lot of late support together with the (cynics would say vote-buying) plan to divert cash to temporarily reduce parking charges in the run up to, and just after Christmas. Offset against that is the electorate's fresh memory of the huge Streetscene losses whilst he was in charge, and increasing financial losses reported on the contract he managed to empty Wyre's dustbins. On the positive side, whilst many will remember he was the man who actually proposed the closure of the swimming pools, he's now leading a charge to re-open St Annes - or at least he says he is. Whether it happens or not remains to be seen.

Ken Hopwood (Independent)
Fylde Borough Councillor with a forensic, detailed, analytical and logical approach to whatever he does. Rode to power on the popular campaign to retain the County Information Office in Lytham. Succeeded for a while, but it is now gone. A steady and solid worker, he's not the sort to make mistakes or allow enthusiasm to cloud his judgement. We suspect it will be between him and Tim Ashton.

Janet Sherwood (Labour).
Another lady not well known to us. In parts of St Johns she will probably do well and pick up support, but probably not well enough to succeed overall (especially with the unpopularity of the Government at the moment). That won't stop her 'spoiling' the case for Ken Hopwood and Tom Armer though. The votes she takes will probably 'prevent' them from getting enough votes to win overall and thus let Tim Ashton retain his seat.

ST ANNES NORTH
(Fylde Borough wards of Kilnhouse, St Leonards and Ashton). A compact ward, but with a very mixed electorate which makes it quite difficult to write leaflets for. It also has the 'forgotten enclave' at Westgate behind the former 'Lemon Tree' nightclub that most people think is in Blackpool.

Karen Buckley (Conservative)
Ambitious. Clever and able speaker. She is a cogent arguer and projects a quiet, exceptionally mild mannered image that we might describe as 'butter wouldn't melt' (but we've heard others describe her as the 'smiling Rottweiler' - which might be more accurate). She has shot up the hierarchy at Fylde with exceptional speed to Chair the Scrutiny Committee that is supposed to keep the Cabinet decisions on the straight and narrow. Would normally be expected to take this ward quite easily, even though she doesn't live in it, but her support for the Muir Group to build the Heeley Road Hostel, and her arguments for not selling the site by competitive tender to the highest bidder have probably fatally damaged her chances this time.

Howard Henshaw (Liberal Democrat)
Popular, populist and experienced Councillor who is able to court publicity well whilst not falling into the trap of over-exposure. He has managed the hostel issue (which has dominated much of this ward) extremely well, and we expect him to reap the rewards of that work in this election. He has a sound financial background and a questioning approach that stands him in good stead as a councillor.

Peter Stephenson (Labour)
Yet another candidate we don't have personal knowledge of, but with these wards typically returning a labour vote that is half or less of that polled by other candidates in the Borough election, coupled with the present fortunes of Labour nationally, we don't rate this as a credible winner. That said, he could pull some votes from the Liberal Democrat corner of the political spectrum, and in this ward, that would help the Conservatives.

Bill Whitehead (UK Independence Party)
Strong minded, forthright and practical, UKIP was the natural home for this campaigner for St Annes Pool. His anger at its closure seems to have provoked political action, and we think he is likely to cost the Conservatives this seat. We don't think he will get enough votes to win, but UKIP, is likely to pull disaffected conservative votes without damaging the Liberal Democrats (whose supporters are mostly naturally pro-Europeans, and so wouldn't vote for an anti-European party).

That will reduce the Conservative vote - possibly by enough to let the Liberal Democrats have the edge. Given his pool-saving credentials, we think the Conservative candidate in this ward will have her work cut out, and we wonder if we might see a surprise result here. He came second in the recent St Annes Town Council by-election where he stood as an independent before joining UKIP, pushing conservative look-alike Peter Wood into third, and the vastly experienced Conservative Alfred Jealous into fourth. Might there be a repeat?

ST ANNES SOUTH
(Fylde Borough wards of Central, Heyhouses and Fairhaven). Another compact and interesting ward ranging from the cheaper town centre flatlands to expensive detached promenade villas. Again, this is a very mixed ward to leaflet and canvass.

Frederick Booth (British National Party)
Yes, the BNP has finally arrived in Fylde. We don't know this chap, but we believe he might be better known by his middle name of Lonen as we have seen him sign letters to the local paper. From those we recall reading he seems to be strong on personal responsibility, practically minded, and of strong opinion. That seems to fit with the party line. So far we haven't seen any denouncements from other parties that it's awful that the BNP is putting someone up in St Annes, but we may see that later. We have no idea how well he might do. We doubt he will win, but any votes going to him are almost certainly going to be disaffected Conservatives and perhaps some toward he right of the 'independent' mould (there are no non-party people standing in this ward). It follows that he will make life easier for the Liberal Democrats here.

Fabian Craig-Wilson (Conservative)
An excellent self publicist, it seems there is rarely an 'Express' without a letter or feature from or about her in recent times. A champion of disability and a stage performer of some calibre, she also has responsibility for a Scrutiny Committee at Fylde Borough, so she might be seen as tainted with the unpopularity of that administration. Whilst Conservatives are generally known to do well in Fairhaven, we don't think this one will make it this time around. But again, the formidable party machine can make a difference.

Karen Henshaw (Liberal Democrat)
Stood last time and came very close to winning in this ward, we think she is the most likely candidate to succeed. She is the wife of Howard Henshaw who is standing in St Annes North, and is a poised, pleasant, capable and organised lady - and in these situations, organisation is often the attribute that pays off. She will be backed up by a solid team on the ground (Liberals are always good at pavement level), and we don't think she will have much difficulty in this one.

Richard Whitehead (UK Independence Party)
Son of Bill Whitehead. Interestingly, this pits father and son against husband and wife in St Annes North and South. Richard is cutting his teeth in politics, and it is both refreshing and encouraging to see a more youthful energy and a commitment to our political system than we normally see in candidates from Fylde. There are many who did not fully recognise the skills that would accrue to a young William Hague, showing that youth is no barrier to ability. He will no doubt pick up some disaffected Conservative votes, but the real conundrum here is the choice. Measured against today's centrally dominated political ground, this ward offers voters the choice of the extreme right, the far right, and the right against the liberal centre.

That's an interesting fact in its own right - so to speak.

So there we have it, the runners and riders for the 2009 Lancashire County Council elections. We're not offering odds this time - too many people to weigh in the balance. We'll bring you the result and what it might mean as soon as we have it (unless of course something exciting happens to affect the chances of one or more candidates in the meantime)

Dated:  13 May 2009


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