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LCC Election 2013: Runners and Riders

LCC Election 2013We promised to bring readers our personal take on the 'runners and riders' in the May 2013 Lancashire County Council election.

It's a distillation of what we know of the candidates or what our readers have told us, or in some cases, the Candidate's own literature or website data. So here we go.

 St Annes North 
BUCKLEY Peter Ian (Con)
Husband of Princess Karen Buckley. Nice chap, but like our friend the Blue Mole said, we don't think he has much chance of winning this seat. His literature focuses on the achievements of the previous County Council rather than on his own views or priorities, so whatever he gets is pretty much going to be a 'party faithful' vote. Princess Karen herself (who is probably better known) contested this seat last time and lost out by 500 or so votes on 4,000 to Lib Dem Howard Henshaw, so we don't see him as a real challenge.

HENSHAW Howard (Lib Dem)
Sitting Councillor with a decent majority and well known name. Part of a husband and wife councillor team on Fylde council as well, his local credentials stand him in good stead. This is further emphasised because he and his wife are active in many local organisations. The Lib Dems have a phenomenal electoral computerised system and an excellent reputation for casework and 'pavement politics'. Set against this to some extent is the poor name the party has nationally at present. We suspect the local connection will win out in this seat and see Howard Henshaw returned.

MCNAMARA Evelyn Iris (Green)
Not known to us at all, her address given as Banks in West Lancashire. We suspect like other Greens she is hoping to catch an anti-fracking vote. No doubt those who are concerned will give her support, but we don't think that will be anything like enough to get here elected. We suspect a vote of less than 500

STEPHENSON Peter James (Lab)
Not known to us personally, but clearly he has stamina. He stood in the LCC election in 2009 and secured just less than 300 votes. A local man his literature is focused on fracking (rather inaccurately and without much conviction we thought), and the state of the roads. He describes himself as "a keen observer of local issues." This area is not natural Labour territory we expect his result from last year to be something similar this time around.

TAYLOR Keith Knowles (UKIP)
Interesting candidate. Local man, former photographer. One reader tells us he has a good sense of humour but is, we understand, an electoral virgin. Bill Whitehead stood for UKIP in St Annes North last time and picked up a respectable 600 votes if Keith Taylor works harder, he ought to do better this time around. We expect UKIP to do well generally and the question will be whether he can double the support from last time and come second. That said we don't think he will manage it. He is likely to pull votes from the Conservatives though.

 St Annes South 
Sitting councillor who beat Karen Henshaw by about 300 votes last time, she must start as favourite. She has reportedly enjoyed the support of Fylde's Leader David Eaves who, we are told, said that anyone who holds or is hoping for a Cabinet place would lose that position if they stood for LCC. This, in effect, ruled out what could otherwise have been a challenge by potential LCC candidates like Princess Karen and Cheryl Little. We're not sure how much support is available from her party workers in this ward, and Cllr Wilson is not as able bodied as some to be able to get round to canvass for herself. We find this a really difficult seat to call, and think it could be very close. Her literature majors on the highway improvements the County Council has made and she says her pledge for the future is to remove health inequalities, to improve disables access, tackling alcohol and drug abuse, and to improve road safety as well as improving the quality of life and economic climate of Fylde.

HENSHAW Karen Maureen (Lib Dem)
Well known, experienced and able borough councillor of long standing she has a good chance of winning here. Like all Lib Dems she will suffer from the national downturn in Lib Dem support, but her local connection will more than make up for that. We would not be surprised to see her do really well this time, and that could involve taking the seat depending on how many Conservative votes UKIP take.

It will be interesting to compare his performance with that of his UKIP colleague in St Annes North. We're told his election literature is powerful and impressive, But we believe he is not local, and how that will play out is unclear. Last time UKIP fielded Richard Whitehead who polled a respectable just under 600 votes. We think this chap will do better if he shapes up, but we doubt he will take the seat. That said, we do think he could pull enough votes away from the Conservatives to let Karen Henshaw in.

ROBERTS Ian Stanley (Green)
Is a local resident and building a solid reputation for himself as a hard worker for the community. He chairs the St Annes in Bloom group who are starting to make a difference, and he also chairs the Friends of Hope Street Park. He's also prominent in the anti fracking movement and has been there since day one of the protests. We've no doubt with the effort he puts in he will become a councillor one day, but we're not sure it will be this one because of the competition he faces this time.

SHERWOOD Robin John (Lab)
One of our readers told us "I've just received an electoral communication from Robin of Sherwood who plans to take from the rich and give to the poor (like me) so he should do well." In reality, Labour picked up just under 300 votes last time around, so we're not expecting anything earth shattering this time.

ASHTON Tim (Con)
Well known to counterbalance readers this is the sitting County Councillor and, as the man who is in charge of highways, he has fixed all the potholes (or not). He's also the man whose literature says "Pledge 1 : We will cut out waste and give value for money" when at the same time, and more or less, single handedly, he is wasting up to £9 MILLION taken from Lancashire taxpayers by installing the wrong-headed 20 mph signs across the whole of Lancashire. We think that will turn out to be a good part of the reason why his party will lose control of County Hall. Even more so when people realise the £9 m wasted on stupid 20mph signs means only £8m spent on things like library investment. Unfortunately we suspect the traditional blue vote in his stronghold of Lytham will see him returned to the County Council, albeit probably with a reduced majority and with his party not in power.

Mr Bleeker is not known to us personally, but by all the accounts we received, he gave an incredibly poor performance when he spoke in the hustings meeting of potential MPs. In the subsequent election he secured only 2,000 votes against Mark Menzies' 22,000 which speaks for itself really. He might be a very nice man, but his performance in the hustings marked him as a poor communicator, so we can't see him as being electorally successful, even with the surge that UKIP is enjoying.

GILLIGAN Carol (Lib Dem)
First stood for FBC St John's Ward in 2011 where she didn't do too well. Also stood in the FBC Kilnhouse Heyhouses by-election where she did better but not quite well enough, coming third. She is a successful, no-nonsense Lytham businesswoman. Likely to put in the effort and run a tight ship of a campaign. She clearly knows how to make things happen, and is used to getting the job done. We can't see her winning in Lytham this time, but she is making steady progress.

PATTERSON Irene (Green)
Local lady but not know to us at all. Greens are standing all over this year, no doubt hoping to capitalise on the anti fracking vote.

SHERWOOD Marjorie Janet (Lab)
Said to be a nice lady, (*See update at end) seems to have gained considerable anti-fracking support this time around (her literature says she is concerned about the impact on health, farming, tourism, water shortages and the environment). She stood for Labour in Ansdell in 2007 and returned 335 votes coming fifth out of five. Stood for Labour at the last County Council election where she came fourth out of four (albeit with the highest actual vote of any Fylde labour Party candidate), but unless things have changed a lot more than we think they have, we're not expecting a great deal.....

 Fylde South 
BRICKLES Julie Ann (Ind)
Tough, hardworking, community minded, no nonsense lady who became a Fylde borough Councillor in 2011 after being strongly endorsed by her popular and very independent minded predecessor Janine Owen . She has found her feet at Fylde and is now starting to make a mark there. She is also a member of Warton Parish Council and evidently popular, so she could do well in this County election. She missed coming top in the FBC (Warton and Westby) election by only 50 votes. That said, this time it will be a hard contested election because the calibre of candidates in Fylde South is exceptionally strong.

Not making life any easier for Julie Brickles, Kiran Mulholland offers serious opposition and has been a very experienced and able Fylde Councillor for many years. A postmaster (which also means he is well known) gives him added advantage. We have a lot of time for his ability, but at times he can be a bit impatient with those of a less able disposition. This doesn't endear him to all. He is one of three very strong candidates in this seat.

RIGBY Paul (Con)
Sitting County Councillor so starts with an advantage. Also has a wide network of family links throughout South Fylde and is well known. He is well placed to hold on to his seat. Doesn't seem to support the anti-fracking movement as much as some, and we've been told he has some sort of commercial or business link with Cuadrilla (We're not suggesting anything at all improper). We had some issues with his competence at Fylde when he was in charge of Finance and we saw a loss of £700,000 reported after the accounting computer changeover debacle which we think he should have seen coming. We also had concerns that some of the planning applications he supported seemed to be significantly at odds with planning policy. We think he will probably retain his seat at County this time (he had double the votes of Kiran Mulholland in the last LCC elections), even though his party will suffer losses.

TAYLOR Bill (Lab)
One of our readers refers to him as "the late Bill Taylor" on account of his punctuality at meetings. He garnered only 228 votes at the last LCC election when Paul Rigby got 1,452, so we don't see him as a realistic challenge.

 Fylde West 
Treasurer of Fylde's UKIP Branch and a local man form Westby he must have one of the better UKIP chances in Fylde. Sadly, we don't know much about him other than that.

HAYHURST Paul Joseph (Ind)
counterbalance's own Saint Paul Hayhurst is the sitting County Councillor and starts with that advantage. He is probably one of the most experienced and able councillors in the whole of the Fylde pack. His oratory is legendary and he has the unfailing ability to produce the killer soundbite that sums up the debate in words that everyone can understand. We know he works incredibly hard himself and drives his campaign team just as hard. His relationship with his electorate is very personal and usually if you combine that closeness, with effort and ability it is a winning combination. We expect him to do well, but last time he beat the Conservative only by about 45 votes. We think he will have consolidated his position during his first term at County, and the presence of UKIP will reduce the Conservative vote in this ward, so we expect St Paul to get in again.

MITCHELL Philip Anthony (Green)
If persistence and doggedness were the winning attributes Philip Mitchell would probably do better than he does. Together with Ian Roberts he founded the anti-fracking movement in Fylde and has been persistent and dogged in his principled opposition to it, so he will probably pick up some support for that, but his presentation style leaves a lot to be desired as we heard from readers who universally condemned his performance in the MP hustings. As one reader at that meeting said "Poor presentation skills, looked uncomfortable, lost track of own points and unable to give more than 3 words without saying “eerrrr”. Not a stimulating performance from start to finish. Stick to tree hugging! Develop a sense of occasion and buy a suit." We don't expect him to do well bar for the anti fracking vote, and it will be interesting to see what support that delivers for him.

PITMAN Sandra (Con)
Not a lady we know personally, but by all accounts arriving with us she is an often abrasive and, shall we say, forthright, contributor to Bryning-with-Warton Parish Council's deliberations. This is the lady who spoke in support of retail development in Warton and told the Express that "Elaine Silverwood and her group" were manoeuvring to occupy sufficient seats on Fylde's Planning Committee (as if that were possible) to "jettison yet another application for Warton as they were able to do on a previous occasion when their economic interests were under threat."  Her attacking approach has already earned her the (not altogether unexpected) epithet 'Pitbull' amongst some of our readers. Whether she can match the performance of the REAL pitbull (Sarah Pallin) remains to be seen. She also probably Flyde typoregrets not having a better proof reader for her literature, but then, typos are an easy mistake to make. Her literature majors on a plan to spend £3 million on sending 50 armed forces veterans to work in Lancashire schools with youngsters, and the savings delivered from frozen council tax. She also gives strong support to Dim Tim's 20 mph scheme. The Conservatives did well in this seat last time, but we expect their vote to be down this time (for reasons not attributable to this candidate), and we expect UKIP to pull some of their vote as well.

Not known to us. Labour got around 300 votes last time, so they're not likely to sparkle.

 Fylde East 
DAVENPORT Dennis John (Lab)
Standing for Labour in Fylde must be like banging your head against a wall, and nowhere is this sadder than in Fylde East this year. We know Dennis Davenport of old, and we know him to be a reasonable and decent man with a good brain. We believe he would make a very able councillor - were it not for the fact that he is standing in Fylde where labour supporters and few and far between. So although we expect Labour to do well in east Lancashire, we don't think Fylde East is ready for such a momentous change yet.

Local man with an interest in civic matters for some years, we've not seen him stand for election before so this might be his first attempt. If so, he'll be relying on the UKIP name and the roll of its bandwaggon to generate votes for him. He's likely to reduce the Conservative vote and help Queen Elizabeth feel more secure. The interesting question is whether he can generate enough to push the Conservatives into third place. Probably not, but it might be closer than you think.

MERRITT Karen Jean (Green)
A St Annes lady but not known to us. Again we suspect the hope is that the Greens can capture the anti fracking vote, and again we think it is too premature for that to have a significant impact.

OADES Elizabeth Annie (Ind)
counterbalances own Queen Elizabeth Oades of Kirkham, the undisputed essence of Kirkham which she lives and breathes. She is also the sitting County Councillor and a really hard working, able councillor with years of experience. She won't be taking her electorate for granted though, and we know she will have teams of supporters out to help her, but if she doesn't get re-elected we expect the sky over Kirkham will fall in.

VALENTINE Daniel Rossall (Con)
This is the chap the Blue Mole told us fits the Conservative 'A List' of potential future candidates and he spends much of his time in London. But he is being given the chance to cut his political teeth on Kirkham. His former Wesham colleague - Fylde's former enfant terrible Simon Renwick (who is now much less 'enfant' and probably less terrible), managed to poll 1,607 votes against Queen Elizabeth's 2,594 in the last County election. Whilst we've no doubt Daniel Valentine will put in the effort, we suspect his greatest achievement will be the experience he gains.

So there we have it, that's our take on the runners and riders for LCC 2013.

As we said in the recent 'Snippets' article, UKIP clearly want to capitalise on disaffected supporters from the three main parties and we guess the Greens are after the votes of anti-fracking people that are growing in numbers, but probably not yet enough to dent the other parties.

You don't have to be a genius to work out that the Conservatives will probably lose control overall at the County. That's partly because of reduced party worker numbers who have left after being disenchanted with the way their party is moving (as evidenced by the big swing to UKIP in other elections), and the benefit changes will make them unpopular in some areas.

So we still expect to see the Conservatives losing control of the County - probably quite significantly. We think the independents and outsiders like UKIP will do well and pick up some seats. We're less sure about the Greens, but we think there will be a notable swing to Labour in east Lancashire, less so in Fylde.

The election is on 2nd May and whoever you plan to vote for, we do urge you to turn out and vote. Individually you might only be one vote amongst 70,000 but 10,000 individuals can make a big difference to the overall result.

We hope to bring you the result as quickly as possible and an analysis of what it means.

Dated:  22 April 2013

Apologies for the aberration in the Carol Gilligan section of Lytham. Of course it was the Heyhouses by-election not the Kilnhouse one she stood for. Now corrected.

We're also happy to report a communication from Dennis Davenport who wrote "May I take this opportunity to advise you and your readers that Janet Sherwood is without doubt a very bright and charming lady."   [We didn't think we had said otherwise, but we're happy to add this comment about his colleague if he feels it to be necessary - cb].


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