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Fylde's Runners and Riders 2015

Runners and Riders 2015We're  looking at the runners and riders for the Parliamentary and Fylde Borough election due in May.

Locally, we think the most significant feature of this election is the campaign organised by Parliamentary Candidate Mike Hill. It seems as though he has signboards everywhere. Fylde has never before seen anything like it from an independent candidate.

Some of the candidates are known to us, quite a few are not. That usually (though not always) means they are first timers or, in some cases, what are called 'paper candidates' who are making weight for their party but perhaps not putting in the same sort of effort as the more committed and serious candidates.

We know from the comments received that many of our readers enjoy our personal insights into the candidates. We equally know they sometimes irritate or upset the people about whom we comment. So we ask our readers (and the candidates themselves) to bear in mind that the comments on the runners and riders that follow are just our own personal view, just one of 60,000 views in Fylde. They're not right or wrong, they're just a personal view based mostly on our experience of seeing them in action or what we have learned about them.

The article first looks at an election overview, then the Parliamentary election, and finally at the Borough Council election looking at Wards in alphabetical order.


It's going to be a really difficult election this time, because of the fragmentation that is happening nationally to the party vote.

We're not entirely clear why this is so. To us it seems as though all the traditional parties are focussing on the small number of marginal seats and have more or less disregarded what used to be called their core voters.

Many of these folk have not retained loyalty to the Party who no longer seem interested in (or at least pay only lip service to) their views and concerns, and they have moved away, some to the left and others to the right.

Also, - probably for the same reason - we're seeing more than ever before, a situation where the party label has become a positive handicap for what are otherwise good MPs and councillors. The Lib Dems (formerly considered to be *the* party of integrity and honesty) have lost much credibility from broken pledges. Saying sorry is fine, but in situations as we have seen, it simply isn't enough to apologise and 'move on' as though the integrity of your word is not important. It isn't about broken promises, it's about betrayed trust, and that will take something like a generation to rebuild.

But it's not only the Lib Dems. There have been decisions made (chiefly by their coalition partners) which will render it impossible for some people to vote for that party this time (and for some, ever again) and, as a result, irrespective of how good an individual MP might be, the decisions made by their party will put them out of contention.

The 'Bedroom Tax' and other austerity measures are no doubt one example, and the changes made by Nick Boles to planning laws will be anathema to others. But our own issue in this regard was the new law which allows drilling / excavation and the deposition of waste material under property not in your ownership without a court order having been argued out first. That - for us - is a wholly unnecessary removal of our freedoms under Common Law to benefit commerce. We regard it as a betrayal of trust fully equal to - if not worse than - the decision by the Lib Dems on tuition fees. So for one reason or another, National Party decisions will, we think, more than ever before, impact badly on some candidates.

The final agent of change (as we see it) is the tremendous propaganda drive that has taken place over the last 20 years or so by the Green Party and their friends in what is loosely called the 'environmental movement.'

This began with well organised teaching materials spreading 'the word' to primary schoolchildren through 'green workbooks' and such like. The outcome of this has been the creation of a generation for whom environmental socialism is a Holy Grail, and this is starting to reflect electorally as these 'pioneers' begin what we believe will become a fundamental shift toward a green and more socialist future.

National decisions are also having a profound effect on party membership.

Traditional parties are losing experienced workers through dissatisfaction and disillusionment. This is particularly evident amongst Lib Dems, but it also affects the Conservatives. Growth is evident in nationalistic parties and in the Green Party.

So it's not an easy election to predict with any degree of comfort.

In Fylde, (what was) the new party on the scene at the last election  'Integrity UK' has vanished.

It fielded four candidates, and one became a Parish Councillor. There are no Integrity candidates this year, and we pretty much think Integrity UK is - as the Monty Python sketch might have said - a dead parrot.

The new party bidding for parliament this time is the 'Northern Party' which appears to be a creation of chiefly former MPs, Councillors and civic leaders or their relatives. It burst onto the scene a couple of weeks ago and, other than standing five candidates, it looks remarkably unprepared this time around.

Maybe this year it's a toe in the water in preparation for a future election, but as far as we can see, all it's likely to do in Fylde is further put at risk Mark Menzies' electoral chances.

It's claimed aim is to do for 'The North' what Nicola; Queen of Scots is doing for Scotland.

We don't think it stand a cat in hell's chance of doing that and, given the previous public rejection of regionalising the UK (under John Prescott's tenure), we're not at all sure it's even a good idea to try.

In the lead-up to this election, there was talk of a disgruntled local businessman funding several UKIP candidates against well known independent councillors in the rural area.

That threat did not materialise, but UKIP themselves have adopted a really strange strategy in the Borough election. They have a Parliamentary candidate as might have been expected, but have put up THREE candidates in St Anne's Central Ward, and none anywhere else in Fylde. These Central Ward seats are currently held by Conservatives and it's difficult to see the logic of the strategy UKIP have adopted.

The received wisdom in elections is that smaller parties and individuals spread themselves across a number of wards where they hope to acquire one of the two or three places available in each, and thus would hope to get (in this instance) all three candidates elected. But putting three up in one ward is likely to split the UKIP vote in that ward, meaning there is less chance of them unseating even one of the Conservatives.

That said, they do seem to be 'going to town' in as much as they have opened a shop/headquarters on the Crescent and painted it brightly in UKIP colours, but we really can't see them making much of an impact with this strategy.

Perhaps they hope to wipe out the Conservatives in Central ward and take all three seats themselves. We can't see that happening, but it's a situation we will be keeping an eye on.

The main parties are represented of course. Labour has several hopefuls and, to be truthful, for the most part that's all they can be in Fylde. There have been occasions when Labour has had success, most notably the regularly re-elected late Alderman Wilf Callon of Lytham - a wily and smart operator during his time on the Council, and he was joined for a while by the late Alf Goldberg from Staining. He was a solid left winger with a heart of gold and a concern for his fellow man.

Some people have told us that parties like Labour have to put up a certain number of candidates in elections in order to qualify for electoral benefits like TV coverage nationally. Whether that's right or not we don't know, but we do think the Labour candidates in Fylde will find the going hard.

 The Parliamentary Election 
Time was when you could put up a donkey with a blue rosette for Parliament and it would be elected in Fylde. A Conservative stronghold heavily weighted with retired professionals with assets to safeguard and an inclination toward the avoidance of change.

That's not quite as strong a proposition these days.

Europe, Immigration and (locally) Fracking, together with dissatisfaction about planning and residential development in Fylde have combined to create an electoral storm which threatens to at least dent, perhaps significantly, the majority of Mark Menzies, our 'sitting' MP.

There are six people standing apart from the incumbent, but there are two ways this could go. A plethora of options to vote for might just be enough to spread the dissenting votes over a large number of candidates and let the sitting MP though again because the 'opposition' is diversified and divided.

Alternatively, the very significant campaigning undertaken by fracking expert Mike Hill could act as a conduit for those who want change. In all our experience of elections, we've never seen an independent candidate produce better publicity or put in greater effort than that undertaken by Mr Hill in this election.

If Mr Hill does not win, then barring any future catastrophic blunders, we think Fylde's present MP will be shown to be pretty much cemented into place for the rest of his life if he wants to stay here.

We would not have given Mike Hill much chance of unseating Mark Menzies at the outset of the campaign. That remains our view, but we hold it less strongly today.

The anti-fracking vote in previous (local) elections has been not significant at all. But the strength of public feeling against fracking is undoubtedly growing and we suspect there will be an impact.

We still don't believe Mike Hill will be able to bring about the change - the roots of 'blind' Conservatism run deep hereabouts - but we do think he will take a significant number of votes from Mark Menzies - who - to us - looks set for a less easy ride back to Parliament this time around.

Parliamentary Hustings St Annes

Those standing to be our next MP are:

A former Fylde Conservative councillor who no doubt contributed to the internal party debates, but who - in common with many other Conservatives in the Coombes Administration - did not appear to take much of an active role in Council meetings. She is a quietly spoken but sharp minded legal professional if our memory serves us right. We don't expect her to do especially well because of the short time between announcing her candidacy and the election itself, but she is known in civic and party circles the area and is likely to take a few votes from Mark Menzies. She represents one of the five Northern Party candidates to which we refer to above.

Standing for the Green Party, he is a committed anti-fracking candidate who has opposed the shale gas proposals almost since their inception. He is a softly spoken but firm minded individual who operates from conviction and belief.

The Green Party stood at the last parliamentary election and polled less than 700 votes, so unlike the fracking issue which he opposes, we don't expect the earth to move electorally for him this time around either.

There has been some debate and disharmony amongst the anti-fracking community about the wisdom of having both Green Party and Independent candidates stand on an anti-fracking ticket - the concern being that it will split the anti-fracking vote. He is a genuine and decent chap, advancing the party cause, but we don't think he will win.

Standing as an Independent candidate for Parliament, he is probably the best known face and name in what some would call Fylde's anti-fracking movement, (though our take on what we have heard him say in public is more about the need for proper regulation than opposition per-se).

He is a technical expert on many of the aspects of shale gas and has advised both Fylde Council's Task and Finish Group, and he has provided advice and information to MPs, Civil Servants and the European Union. He is an intense and tightly focussed person with a sharp mind.

His business background is in control systems for the oil and gas industry and he is clearly used to planning and decision making. He has put his personal credibility and significant financial resources into what is - in our opinion - the most thorough and professional campaigning we have ever seen in Fylde.

He has also been the subject of several 'dirty tricks' and smear campaigns which (as we know from personal experience in other matters) shows he is perceived by some as a threat. We think he will do quite well, but not well enough to unseat the incumbent.

Is representing Labour - who always field a candidate at Fylde, and who have seen their vote vary between 4,000 and 16,000 over the last seven elections, with 11,000 or so being typical.

We don't know Mr Sullivan, but whilst we warmed to his claim to represent real life values and issues in our community, we were not overly impressed by his literature as delivered to us. It seemed remarkably simplistic in both style and tone. We also think his claim of "campaigning to ban all fracking" is disingenuous - in that campaining to ban it is all he can hope to do in a Labour Party that is as committed to fracking as the Conservative party (as the Lib Dems and UKIP are).

Reader reports that reached us of his performance at the St Annes Hustings suggest his humorous manner there didn't impress either.

Fylde's sitting Conservative MP defending a huge majority of 13,185 on a turnout of 66% (he got 22,826 votes last time, meaning more than half of the Fylde electorate voted for him). That's a huge majority for anyone to overturn. Apart from some well publicised difficulties in his personal life, he has kept his electorate mostly happy.

We know first hand of his close support for local groups and individuals opposing Fylde's more ludicrous proposals on housing numbers, especially in Warton, and the residents of Newton and Clifton have cause to be grateful for his support in having the traveller site that Fylde supported called in by St Eric.

He has also been assiduous in working for the benefit of BAe and in his support for the new road across Lytham Moss from Cypress Point. Sadly, given the absence of any flag waving announcements on this matter, it looks as though the 2m he persuaded the Government to make available to kick-start the road scheme might have dried up because, as we understood its initial reporting, the 2m was only available until 31 March this year, and there has been no joyous announcement.

His potential problem however is Fracking. This is because he represents a Party that is Hell Bent on implementing fracking without - it appears to us - an adequate regulatory environment in place. He famously, (and properly) called for a 'Gold Standard' of Regulation for the industry - only to have his legs cut from under him by colleagues in the Lords who complained that some of the proposed amendments to the Infrastructure Bill were trying to 'Gold Plate' the regulations, and there was no need for that. So his Party's stance on fracking means he is at something of a disadvantage locally.

That said, we think he will, once again, be returned as Fylde's MP, but we would not be surprised to see a reduced majority.

By all accounts, the Lib Dems are in for a difficult election nationally and we can't see this candidate - however well intentioned and committed - changing the fortunes of the party. He's not a well know figure (at least not in this part of Fylde) and in an area where the demographic profile might be expected to be largely hostile to the EU, his party's supportive leanings in that direction, and his own close connections with Brussels are not likely to improve matters.

We think he will try hard, but won't do as well as the 6,000 to 12,000 polled by the better known Bill Winlow or the exceptionally well-known Anne Smith in her day. There must be a risk he will lose his deposit. But the more interesting question is where the (former) Lib Dem votes will end up this time around, will they go to Mike Hill, or to Labour or to the Greens or even to Mark Menzies?

Is standing for UKIP whose support is growing in Fylde, from 982 votes in 2001 to just shy of 2,000 votes in 2010. They might do even better this time, (and probably will), but their parliamentary literature so far is weak and we got the impression that they were not wasting serious resources in a constituency they probably know they can't win.

It's is known that UKIP are really looking to build their support at this election and hope to come second in many constituencies as a springboard for the next Parliamentary election after this, and we suspect that's their real aim in Fylde. We're not even sure he will manage that in Fylde, but the votes he and others take from the Conservatives may have an impact on who is returned.

We make it there are six councillors stepping down this year (mostly Conservatives).

Without doubt, the greatest loss to the Council overall is that of Independent Cllr Charles Duffy. We had great hopes for him to become a future leader of the Council. He was new at the last intake but quickly mastered the processes and became the undisputed member expert on Fylde's procedures and its constitution. He could grasp complex issues and argued his case well. His loss to Fylde is a great one. We understand it is attributable to an increase in his responsibility at work which requires him to be out of the country more often, and thus unable to continue his work at FBC. We thank him for his contribution and wish him well for the future.

Also going is long serving member Dawn Prestwich who (latterly) represented Park Ward. She is a gentle soul with an appreciation of the finer qualities of life, and a distinct bent toward the arts. She was not vociferous in Council meetings, but no doubt brought a steadying influence to bear in Conservative Group meetings.

Also gone is Cllr Nigel Goodrich whose family has moved north, resulting in him travelling from the Lancaster area to deal with constituency matters and Council meetings for some time. Cynics of our acquaintance suggested this travelling was as a result of pressure from party colleagues not to cause a by-election by standing down, but from our personal knowledge of him, (and whilst we often did not share the same view of things) we believe he would not have wanted to let down the constituents that elected him by throwing in the towel partway through his term. He too had a sharp mind and was willing to put in the effort required. We wish him well.

Cllr Simon Cox has also not stood again this time. He topped the poll in his ward (showing he is well known and popular) but was not a frequent presence at the Council meetings we attended and, whilst his input might well have helped to shape Conservative policy behind closed doors, his contribution (other than voting) at Fylde Council meetings probably won't be missed that much.

The final couple to stand down are Cllrs Suzanne Cunningham and Cllr Susan Ashton - the friends that became more or less inseparable after being thrust (seemingly unprepared) into the maelstrom of Council activity for the first time in 2010. To us, neither seemed wholly comfortable in the role, and we expect they will be relieved to pass the burden on to others.

This time FBC sees an exceptional 99 candidates contesting 51 Council seats. No ward is uncontested, and who gets elected is down to the 61,000 or so Fylde voters.

And so, to the runners and riders. In ward and alphabetical order, they are....

 ANSDELL WARD- FBC 3 seats available 
 AITKEN, Benjamin Ian. 
1033 votes last time and 886 the time before. He has consistently topped the poll in Ansdell. After causing uproar at his first Council meeting where he made an overtly political speech toward the right of the spectrum about unemployed young people who were not in education or training he became more circumspect, but still makes his points with vigour. He became embroiled in the Melton Grove debacle which did not enhance his appeal to some, and became Chairman of Fylde's Development Management (Planning) Committee where we've heard him speak strongly in support of protecting farmland. He is a man of firm convictions and is not afraid to express them, however unpalatable they may be to others.

Standing for the first time and an Independent, he is out to unseat one of the three Conservative councillors who represent Ansdell at present. He is active in the local community having established a Neighbourhood Watch scheme and has interests both in the local business community and with charities locally and nationally. A Fylde resident for more than 16 years, he is now semi-retired having worked for BAe, the Omani Government and IBM. He is an ex Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institute of Management. He's also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, with a particular interest in communities and social interaction. We have found him to be able with a background that would be well suited to being a Councillor. We wish him well.

 EAVES, David Russell 
1022 votes last time with 810 votes the time before. Former Conservative Leader who suffered the ignominy of having to be re-elected as Leader when Fylde forgot to elect him when they should have done. We had hoped his leadership would have ushered in a more consensual style as was promised, but in the end he was - for whatever reason - unable to deliver on that promise. He also took the lead in proposing the disposal of Melton Grove and linking that to the grant that was provided to Lytham Hall (even if he did change is mind about the linkage at a subsequent Council meeting). That was a cardinal matter so far as we are concerned. As both Council and Majority Group Leader he bore responsibility for what was one of the worst and most shameful decisions Fylde ever made.

 REDCLIFFE, Richard Verran 
Polled 981 votes last time, when he was an unknown quantity to us. That's no longer the case. He has become a respected and able orator in Council meetings, often providing a calming and reasoning influence.

 SHERWOOD, Marjorie Janet 
Nice lady from the Labour Party who has returned just over 300 votes in each of the last two Ansdell elections. We think she is unlikely to cause any change in the political landscape but wish her well.

 ASHTON WARD - FBC 3 seats available 
 DAVIES, John Raymond 
Increased his share of the vote to 721 last time (from 698 votes) the time before. He has (just) topped the poll in Ashton ward each time. Originally endorsed by the very popular former Cllrs Barbara Pagett and Ron Wilson, he is also very popular and well known in his own right. Involved with several local organisations ranging from Homestart to the Supporters of Ashton Gardens and a vociferous supporter of the return of the Committee System at Fylde for which he campaigned as hard as any Fylde Councillor. Almost certain to do well, he is the Leader of Fylde Ratepayers group on the Council.

 FORD, Tony 
Another who increased their share of the vote last time. In his case to 687 from 605 votes the time before. A Liberal Democrat whose personal qualities deserve more credit than his party label will bring him. He is one of the hardest working councillors we know, with a finger in many pies. He is also very active on the St Annes Town Council and puts a great deal of practical effort into making things happen on the ground. Popular and well known, he will undoubtedly do well again this time, despite the decline in the Lib Dems fortune nationally.

Was elected as new Conservative member at the last election with 538 votes, narrowly beating her Conservative colleague Barbara Nash and Independent Peter Savic. Her work has seemed to limit her ability to participate as fully as she would no-doubt like in civic life, and she has not shone in public debate at Fylde. No doubt she makes her arguments behind the scenes in Conservative group meetings.

 MERCER, Carolyn 
Standing for the Labour party and not well known to us. We believe she is a retired headteacher with interests in diversity and equality.

 MERRITT, Karen 
Green Party Candidate and secretary of the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party

 NEALE, Graeme 
Standing as a Conservative by, sadly not know to us.

 WHITTAM, Alexander 
also standing as a Conservative but not known to us.

 CENTRAL WARD FBC 3 seats available 
 BARKER, Jan  
Standing for the Labour Party. Not known to us from previous elections.

 BENNETT, Richard 
Standing for the Lib Dems. Currently at Lancaster University. Well informed on national issues. Youthful and keen.

538 votes last time and 516 votes the time before. She is a Conservative on both Fylde Borough and Lancashire County Council. Formerly willing to stand up for her beliefs and speak against the party line when necessary, but that seems less evident in recent times where have seen her vote without enthusiasm for the decision she was supporting on several occasions.

612 votes last time and 540 votes the time before. A Conservative returned many times so she must be doing something right. Succeeded David Eaves as Leader of the Conservative group when he stepped down, but is widely tipped to stand aside and let Karen Buckley take the local Party Leadership after May. We have known her since she first became a member of Fylde Council a generation ago, and always thought she was a Councillor worth listening to, but in recent years we have been less impressed, as indeed, we know she has been with our take on things.

Is UKIP's regional organiser in the North West. Was initially selected as the UKIP candidate for the Barrow and Furness constituency but withdrew when advised (by the EU) of the need to avoid a conflict on interest between the proposed candidacy and his work as an assistant to three Members of the European Parliament. Said to have good contacts within the party and has been flying the UKIP flag in Barrow for the last 10 years.

 NASH, Edward (Con), 
Came second in this Ward with 566 votes last time. A Conservative (and husband of Barbara Nash who is standing in Heyhouses Ward this time). Dubbed 'The Brigadier' in counterbalance because of his services background and military manner. Forthright and outspoken with strong opinions.

 WIMBURY, Brook 
Chairman of Fylde's UKIP branch, but otherwise not known to us.

 WOOD, Tim (UKIP) 
Stood in the St John's By Election where he gained just 100 of the 1,200 or so votes that were cast at that time. UKIP are on a roll nationally, but as we said previously, we simply don't see the logic of their strategy of fielding three candidates in one ward this time -even if some are experienced and heavy hitters within UKIP.

 CLIFTON WARD FBC 3 seats available 
 CROSS, Steven 
Standing for the Labour Party, but not know to us from previous elections.

828 votes last time. Conservative. Originally elected (on a very small majority) at a by-election following the death of the much revered Bill Thompson. Settling into his role as a Councillor and seems popular even if not one of the most practically active members.

 FRADLEY, Richard 
Standing for the Conservatives but not know to us from previous elections.

804 votes last time and 725 votes at the previous election. Independent councillor. Assumed the mantle of the first class former Councillor Ron Wilson who was hugely respected for the effort he put in on behalf of the people he represented. Cllr Hopwood has an absolute grasp of detail and possesses excellent forensic examination skills. He is also not above rolling his sleeves up and tackling practical issues such as painting park railings which we've seen him do before now. We can't imagine that he will not be re-elected.

Another Conservative candidate who is not know to us from previous elections.

 BUTLER, Stephen 
Standing for the Conservatives and believed to be a relative of former Fylde Councillor Harold Butler, so he is well connected within Fylde Conservatives. Stood in Newton and Treales in 2011 and polled 324 votes to come fourth. Even as well known as he may be, we don't think he has a hope in hell of unseating the vastly experienced, well known and popular Paul Hayhurst who is 'Mr Elswick' and beat the previous (2011) Conservative challenger by a ratio of 5 to 1.

 HAYHURST, Paul Joseph 
Cast Iron case to win. Took 589 votes (against a Conservative who polled only 113 votes) last time. Has represented the area since time immemorial it seems. Welded into the fabric of his community and hugely respected by them he fights like a tiger for their interests - and usually wins on their behalf. Beatified by counterbalance for winning the case set against him by Fylde's Chief Executive after the disastrous pool closure Council meeting of 3 March 2008. Elected a County Councillor in the last County elections. He's probably the best orator on Fylde Council and has a first class brain with the best eye for a headline quote and a terrific grasp of figures. He is also well able to deal with strategic thinking and demonstrates good judgement. as far as we're concerned, it's no contest - though we know he won't take the people of his ward for granted.

 FAIRHAVEN WARD FBC 3 seats available 
Standing here for the first time as a Conservative. Stood for them in the St John's by-election and came second with 205 votes (to Mark Bamforth's 804 votes).

 DONALDSON, David Grieve 
New Councillor at the last election where he polled 702 votes to come third and narrowly beat another Conservative who polled 692. Very low profile in Council meetings (Don't think we've heard him speak at all in the last four years), but probably works behind the scenes.

 EASTHAM, Richard Kevin 
741 votes last time - just up on his 732 votes at the election before. Fylde Ratepayers councillor. Thoughtful and small c conservative in approach. Civil and polite in style. Seems to work better in the background and behind the scenes rather than in the public eye. Strong on planning and architecture issues. Experienced councillor.

Liberal Democrat who was once elected to represent Fairhaven on St Annes Town Council in a mid-term by-election. He is a slow and steady pair of hands. Thoughtful and considered in his dealings he is the sort of chap that forms the backbone of any organisation.

 LITTLE, Cheryl Doreen 
941 votes last time which increased her vote significantly from the 745 votes she polled at the previous election. A free-thinking Boudicea type with a huge heart and great interest in people. Exceptionally well known and very popular, it's difficult to imagine her not being elected again. We found her less impressive in the technical and presentational aspects of her former Cabinet role, but she ought to do well in the election on the strength of her personality.

Standing for the Labour Party. Decent chap. Stood in St Annes South Ward for the Lancashire County Council in 2013 and polled 491 votes (where he was fourth and only three votes behind third place). We doubt he will shake the established order in Fairhaven because of the demographics there.

 FRECKLETON EAST WARD FBC 2 seats available 

Standing for Labour. Stood in Kirkham last time and Newton the time before. He's a decent, sensible and thoughtful chap but Fylde's demographics simply don't favour Labour.

Freckleton Parish Councillor standing as an Independent for a seat on Fylde Borough. Stood for Fylde Borough as a Conservative in 2007 and came third just behind the two sitting councillors who were re-elected.

 HOLT, Pam 
New to Council work this local businesswoman now in semi retirement is standing as an Independent candidate. She has taken a seat on the Parish Council already and now looks to work for Freckleton on the Borough Council.

 MULHOLLAND, James Kiran 
473 votes last time (which was down from the 509 votes he polled the time before). Independent (although Capital C Conservative in many of his views), he is a well established councillor with firm convictions but quiet and moderately spoken in style. His manner is one that would be at home in any traditional English pub. He has an excellent brain and is a strategic thinker, well able to handle concepts and policy. He is also a first class advocate for the causes he represents. We haven't always agreed with him but we have huge respect for his ability, and we imagine the people of Freckleton will share this. We'd be surprised if he was not re-elected.

 OWEN, Ryan 
Standing as an Independent. We believe he is a relative of Fylde's former Councillor Janine Owen for whom we had great respect. One of our readers who knows him better than we do says he would bring youthful enthusiasm and a breath of fresh air if elected.

707 votes last time, which was an increase on the 628 votes he polled the time before. Standing in party colours for the Conservatives this time, he was elected an Independent last time but 'crossed the floor' to join the Conservatives after the election - after which he rose through to a Cabinet Portfolio Holder position in a David Eaves reshuffle. He is widely known in Freckleton.

 FRECKLETON WEST WARD FBC 2 seats available 
 FIDDLER, Dr Trevor 
758 votes last time (up from the 726 votes at the previous election). As with Cllr Threlfall, Trevor Fiddler also crossed the floor and became a Conservative after winning as an independent at the last election. This time he is standing as a Conservative. A great strategist and an experienced Councillor. Formidable - but not always popular or consensual - on planning matters, and a good orator who uses mental ju-jitsu to unsettle opponents. Our experience of him suggests he is absolutely Conservative (with a large C) to the core irrespective of his electoral description. His position on Melton Grove was classic. He was driven by Conservative policy which was that Councils should not provide social housing, therefore he had no hesitation in deciding it should be sold. On Policy matters he is - sometimes brutally - honest, but he has badly managed the process to produce Fylde's Local Plan to the extent that it is (literally) years behind schedule and the present version is not supported by 46% of Councillors who have voted against it and issued their own Minority Reports to explain why. Like "the little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead". When he is good, he is very very good, but when he is bad, he is horrid

Standing as an Independent councillor she has tenacity and thoroughness the like of which is rarely seen today. A committed anti-fracking campaigner, and lady with a strong sense of right and wrong. We think she will be looking to make changes if elected.

 RENDLE, Helen 
Standing for Labour but is not known to us from previous elections. She is a Campaign Organiser for the labour Party working mostly in Blackpool North and Cleveleys we understand.

 RIGBY, Louis 
714 votes last time (Up slightly from the 701 votes he polled the previous time). Independent. Former small scale builder. Widely known and well respected Councillor with a heart of gold and solid common sense. Extremely practical approach and traditional family values. It was Cllr Rigby, alone amongst the Directors of Melton Grove, who stood out and refused to sign papers to transfer his directorship to a property developer. Like a rock he withstood the pressures applied to him to do so. In that he has earned our great respect and the epither 'Saint Louis the Magnificent', and we hope the people of Freckleton will value the honest, practical integrity that he brings to the Council on their behalf.

 HEYHOUSES WARD FBC 3 seats available 
 FIELDING, Patricia Anne 
Liberal Democrat. Wife of Bob Fielding who is standing in standing in Fairhaven Ward. She is a local activist and pretty much clued up in the local political scene. Has stood several times before in Fylde, but never quite made it. Solid reliable party worker.

Standing for Labour and not known to us. Not sure if Labour has contested the Heyhouses Ward before or not.

NASH,  Barbara
Conservative who was elected to Heyhouses in a by-election in 2012 with 401 votes (beating her nearest rival by about 100 votes). But at that election she was the only Conservative Candidate. This time there are three standing. That said, although we don't know her well, we have heard others speak well of her work, so she may do well.

 SETTLE, Vince
Also Conservative. Earned his spurs in St Annes Town Council where he is popular and respected. Willing to get stuck in and make things happen. Now standing for the Borough Council.

Conservative. Topped the poll in Heyhouses at her first attempt at standing with 839 votes. She's well connected locally and associated with community and housing organisations which will bolster her popularity. We believe she can be independently minded and sometimes outspoken - but has mostly not shown evidence of this in public. Perhaps she is more vociferous behind the scenes.

 KILNHOUSE WARD FBC 3 seats available 
 AKEROYD, Christine Elizabeth 
Polled 614 votes last time, down slightly from the 621 votes she polled the previous time. Well established Conservative. We know little of her ward activity. Although she has moved up within the responsibility stakes in committee, she has little to say at Full Council meetings and does not appear to do much more than be there and vote.

 ARMIT, Timothy William 
Conservative. Polled 531 votes last time. Has one of the more youthful outlooks on FBC. Quick thinking and energetic he gives us the impression of working more from policy than deep personal conviction. Sometimes comes at issues from an unusual angle that stimulates consideration of matters from a different perspective. Business and commerce (more than civic) driven, his younger perspective does not always sit well with the tradition and the resistance to change for which Fylde is famous. As a result, he may not be as popular as his views become better known.

 COWAN, Jerome 
Green Party candidate and former campaigner to save St Annes Pool from closure. We don't think he has stood in Fylde before, and the Greens did not contest it last time, so there's no form to go on really. Its a case of 'wait and see'

 HENSHAW, Karen Maureen 
Liberal Democrat. Topped the poll in Kilnhouse last time with 623 votes. Widely known and well connected popular former Magistrate and JP who is a pillar of the community and had been elected by Kilnhouse residents in a by-election, so she must be toward the front of the pack. Has the sort of personality that is less likely to be dented by the downtrend from the Lib Dems nationally and should do well.

Also standing for the Lib Dems she is a former teacher and is involved in local community groups. Stood for Kilnhouse in 2007 where she polled 373 as one of two Lib Dems at that time. (The other polled a similar number to hers), so her effect on Karen Henshaw's prospect is unknown.

 SMALL, Roger 
Former Deputy Leader to the dreaded Commissar he seems to be venturing out of 'retirement' from civic life and back into local politics. We understand there was some consternation from other Conservatives in this ward about splitting the Conservative vote three ways, and Cllr Armit's seat might look more vulnerable than it would have been because of that. Cllr Small gave the impression of being the personification of easy-going reasonableness in his dealings when in office, but in our view he relied too much on advice he received from officers without having tested what he was told, and he did not always master the detail of issues.

Standing for Labour. Stood in Ansdell in 2011 where he polled 219 votes to come seventh of eight candidates because the Labour vote was split between three candidates (each polling 200-300 in Ansdell) at that time. They're not making that mistake here, but as we've said before, Fylde's demographic is not well suited to the generality of Labour support, it needs exceptionally well known, well connected and respected local individuals (like the late Wilf Callon and Alf Goldberg) to advance the Labour cause in Fylde. (And even then it is as much because of their personal qualities as their beliefs). Mr Stephenson is a decent chap and a hardworking, solid, party stalwart, but we don't think he is well enough known in this ward to alter the political map this time.

 KIRKHAM NORTH FBC 3 seats available 
 BECKETT, Keith 
880 votes last time which was a substantial increase on the 569 votes he polled in the previous election. He is an Independent, plain speaking, practical Councillor who works from common sense and not strategy or policy. He has extensive local connections and is popular. We think he will be elected again.

 HODGSON, Paul Anthony 
Another Independent. A member of Kirkham Town Council, he was elected to Fylde Borough in 2011 polling 668 votes which was double the average achieved by each of the three Conservatives that were fielded. again we think he will be re-elected.

Standing for labour but not known to us.

 SILVERWOOD, Elaine Margaret 
An amazing poll topping 1,007 votes last time (which was a substantial increase in her previous 852 votes the time before) . Independent. Owner of the famous Silverdell bookshop and ice cream parlour in Kirkham that attracts big name celebrity book signings and lots of publicity to Kirkham. She also topped the poll in 2007 as her first time election, and has grown greatly in stature and ability as a Councillor since then. There is no contest that she will repeat the performance this time.

Standing as a Conservative but not known to us

 KIRKHAM SOUTH FBC 2 seats available 
 HARDY, Peter 
An Independent councillor who polled 400 votes last time, (which was up from the 357 votes he polled the time before). Absolutely walking living breathing solid common sense on legs. Plain speaking and not afraid to speak up, he is as good a local councillor as you could wish for. If, as we expect, he is re-elected, he will become the Mayor of Fylde for 2015/16.

 OADES, Liz 
Secured 698 votes last time (up from 595 votes the previous time).  As Nicola Sturgeon is to the Scots, so 'Queen Elizabeth' is to Kirkham. She is it's undisputed first lady. She is also a Kirkham Town Councillor and Lancashire County Councillor. A solid, really hard working, absolutely committed Councillor with a strong social conscience and a clear sense of right and wrong. We don't always agree with her views, but we greatly respect her honesty and openness. She is absolutely committed to the people of Kirkham and Fylde. They couldn't wish for a better councillor and we would be amazed if she was not re-elected.

Standing as the Labour Party's candidate for the Borough Council as well as the Fylde Parliamentary candidate, Mr Sullivan looks to be a glutton for punishment. He will probably take some votes, but as last time, we expect them to be in the low hundreds rather than the sort of numbers needed to win in this seat.

 MEDLAR-WITH-WESHAM WARD FBC 2 seats available 
 CLAYTON, Alan David 
591 votes last time (up from 403 votes the previous time). Independent. A charming, easy going, mild mannered, thoughtful, willing, hard working community-minded member of Wesham Town Council who is well known in the area and will do well because of that.

 NULTY, Linda Jane 
651 votes last time (up from 519 votes the previous time). Independent. A very human, caring, Councillor with a strong sense of justice and fair play. Works hard on behalf of Wesham and is well thought of by her community. We'd be very surprised if she was not re-elected. She is also a member of Wesham Town Council.

Standing for the Labour Party but not known to us.

Standing for the Conservative Party, but again he is not known to us.

 NEWTON AND TREALES WARD FBC 2 seats available 
 COLLINS, Peter 
Independent who polled 675 votes last time. (Which was very slightly down on his 686 votes in the previous election). He is a local shopkeeper and self-evidently very popular with residents. Until the last couple of years he had an unremarkable performance in Council meetings. However that has all changed. He has become one of those speakers who you look forward to hearing in Council because the clarity of his take on issues demands your attention. When he is moved to comment you can be sure he will put his point strongly and clearly, and often - like Cllr Armit - he comes from an unexpected angle. He is bold and fearless in what he says. Perhaps it is just that he has taken longer to find his feet in Council business, or perhaps that he resists comment except on the most important issues, but whatever it is, like Cllr Silverwood, he has definitely grown in ability and stature within the Council.

 SPEAK, Heather Ann 
Independent who polled 837 votes last time (up from the 724 votes she polled in the previous election). Very well known and popular in her area she has become a rallying-point for the anti-fracking movement because of her opposition to it. It is literally proposed to be yards away from her home and she is clearly worried about the impact it will have on the health, safety and wellbeing of her community. We think she is very likely to be one of the two Councillors returned by this ward.

 TAYLOR, Bill 
Labour stalwart who would undoubtedly be a safe pair of hands because of his experience of standing over the years, but we don't believe he will be elected in Newton and Treales this time.

 PARK WARD FBC 3 seats available 
 CHEDD, David Mark 
1,052 votes last time (Significantly up from 872 votes the time before). Independent. A rising star amongst the independent councillors. He is a solid hard-working councillor and a clear thinker. Like Cllr Collins from Newton, we have watched him grow even stronger in stature and ability as he has gained more experience in Council. As an incumbent he is likely to benefit, and based on his polling, he is well thought of by his electorate. We expect him to be re-elected.

 CHRISTIAN, Timothy 
Standing for the labour party but not known to us.

 GREEN, Shirley 
Conservative, standing for the first time. She is a very able and hardworking administrator for the Fylde Conservative Association and runs the local parliamentary office for Mark Menzies. She is incredibly well connected amongst Fylde's Conservatives but perhaps not as well known in her own right as she deserves to be. She's a tough, no-nonsense, plain speaking lady who knows how to make things happen. We expect her to put in the effort and do well.

 HARVEY, Neil 
Conservative. Stood in Kilnhouse Ward last time where he came fifth with 574 votes.

 PITMAN, Sandra 
Conservative. Member of Warton Parish Council where her occasionally forthright manner is said by some to have introduced disharmony. Stood for Fylde West in the County Elections where she polled 938 against Paul Hayhurst's 1,383. Once again, we wonder about the wisdom of fielding three candidates in a three seat ward. Whilst it's nice to plan for success for all three, the danger is that the Conservative vote is split between them, making it easier for others to be elected.

 RIBBY-WITH-WREA WARD FBC 1 seat available 
 ANDREWS, Frank Roland 
Conservative who polled 374 at the last election, up from 292 votes the time before. Rarely speaks at Council meetings, but undoubtedly influences things behind the scenes. The softening of planning constraints by the Government has put Wrea Green under threat from developers and may have an influence in the voting this time.

 MCLAUGHLIN, Annemarie 
Standing for Labour but not known to us.

 WARDELL, Janet Lynn 
Polled 342 last time (up from 290 votes the time before). Chairs the Parish Council and is well connected. Formerly stood as a Conservative but was not selected when Frank Andrews was chosen by the party as the by-election candidate a couple of years ago; she crossed the floor and stood as an independent. This time she has entered no group or party descriptor. She came very close to winning in both the by-election and the last full election, so we expect this to be a close fought contest.

 CHEW, Maxine 
Independent and fiercely so. Polled 369 votes last time (out of 563 turnout) easily beating her nearest rival Elizabeth Clarkson who polled just 106 votes standing under the Conservative Banner at that time. (Footnote: That's the same Elizabeth Clarkson who is now standing for the new 'Northern Party' and aiming to be Fylde's MP this time). Cllr Chew is the undisputed Queen of Singleton and Greenhalgh. A hardworking, well-known, councillor following in the dynastic footsteps of her mother who was a Singleton Councillor (now Alderman) for many years. Cllr Chew is welded into the fabric of life in her ward. She is very popular, and we doubt she will be dislodged.

 LOMAX, Paul 
Conservative. Co-Owner of Antons Cafe Bar in St Annes and an actor with Fylde Coast Players. Nominated as Best Male Supporting Actor in 2013. We're told he also has a connection with Blackpool South Conservative Association where 'Antons' co-owner Peter Anthony is standing as the Conservative parliamentary candidate.

 ST. JOHN'S WARD FBC 3 seats available 
 ACKERS, Brenda Margaret 
771 votes last time (up from 547 votes the time before). Conservative. Seems to us to have a very high opinion of herself. To be honest, we're probably as impressed with her as she is with us, which is likely to be not very much at all. We can't help seeing her as the 'Marie Antoinette' of Fylde Council although we can't actually recall hearing her say 'Let them eat cake'. We struggle to find a single thing good to report about her term of office except that she has been absolutely solidly loyal to the party she serves. She carried aloft the standard for selling Melton Grove to a property developer, and giving 300,000 of the sale proceeds to Lytham Hall, and, by doing so, she has, in our view, destroyed the trust that, as a Trustee, she was supposed to be safeguarding. That said, she topped the poll in her ward last time, and increased her vote, so her electorate clearly think better of her than we do, so she must be likely to do well this time too.

717 votes last time, (up from 612 votes the time before) Conservative. Topped the poll in St Johns in 2007 but beaten by Cllr Ackers in 2011.Was elected to Lancashire County Council where he became Highways supremo and promptly supported and ushered in the ridiculously expensive, wasteful, and wrong-headed 20mph scheme. We have previously said that if he was the last candidate on earth, we wouldn't vote for him. That remains the case, but again, the folk in St Johns Ward clearly think well of him as they vote him in time and time again.

Standing for Fylde Ratepayers, and elected in a by-election following the sad loss of Kath Harper, he polled an amazing 804 votes in a by-election on a turnout of 33% (The main Borough election saw a turnout of 43% so we can reasonably expect his polling to increase this time). This is an incredibly popular and well known individual who runs a post office and store on Warton Street. He's the sort of chap who sets out his stall and gets organised with the minimum of fuss. An unceremonial, practical man who makes things happen. We think he might top the poll this time.

 DUNCAN, Paul 
Standing as an independent, but not known to us.

 LLOYD, Roger 
Is also standing for Fylde Ratepayers alongside Mark Bamforth and sharing literature. He is a former Fylde Councillor from several years ago and joined the Council alongside Mark Bamforth and Tim Ashton. He did not seek re-election at that time, and his civic profile has been lower since then, but we believe he is well known in Lytham - possibly from his connections with a building related business. It's curious to see two Ratepayers standing in the same ward when we might have expected them to have more chance of election by not splitting the vote and standing in separate wards, but we imagine that such is the popularity of Mark Bamforth, the association will be beneficial. This will be an interesting contest.

 SENIOR, Christopher 
Standing as a Conservative but not known to us.

 SHACKLETON, Jose (Lab) 
Standing for Labour but not known to us.

 WINLOW, Pam (Lib Dem) 
Liberal democrat, Diminutive parcel of dynamite. Sometimes acerbic, always incisive, clear thinking and - some might say - dangerous, politician. Wife of Prof. and County Councillor Bill Winlow whose apparently easygoing exterior makes a complete foil for the sharp wit and wisdom she can bring.

 ST. LEONARD'S WARD FBC 3 seats available 
Labour stalwart. Chair of Fylde Labour Party. Stood in St Leonard's last time and polled 293 votes coming seventh out of nine. We think something similar is on the cards for this time as well.

 BUCKLEY, Karen Elizabeth 
547 votes last time (down from 624 votes the time before - where she (just) topped the poll on that occasion). She suffered for her support of the proposed Heeley Road Hostel scheme but we expect her to do much better this time now that threat has (seemingly) evaporated. She is (currently) counterbalance's own 'Princess Karen' and sets her stall out well. She understands what it takes to win and goes for it. To us she seems incredibly ambitious, and she has earned the epithet of "the Smiling Rottweiler" from some councillors of our acquaintance, probably because of her dogged determination to succeed and win at whatever she does, using the charm and 'butter wouldn't melt' approach that makes her a very difficult opponent to beat in debate. She is also a very skilled advocate, easily able to use selected facts to present what appears to be an utterly convincing argument, and sowing just enough doubt into the minds of those she seeks to convince that to do other than what she suggests would be pointless. She took on Fylde's finance portfolio and has mastered the brief very effectively. We rate her ability on finance to be as good as the best we have had in Fylde.

Assuming she is re-elected (and we can't imagine she will not be), we expect her to assume Leadership of the Conservative Group on Fylde and to put her mark on the conduct of the Council. To be honest, she's not our preferred sort of Councillor, and in our view she would make a better MP than a councillor, but as a Councillor, unless you have complete mastery of the details of your argument, you shouldn't even take her on in debate. We look forward to her being given a winnable parliamentary seat at some point in the future.

 COLLINS, Delma 
Standing as a Conservative but not known to us.

 HENSHAW, Howard 
815 votes last time (up from 624 votes the time before). Liberal democrat. He is very well known and well connected locally. Ex international banker with the World Bank or the IMF he has a good head for broad brush figures and has a good support team behind him. His opposition to the Heeley Road Hostel scheme was probably responsible for the surge in his vote last time, but we don't expect him to do as well this time.

 JACQUES, Angela Rosemary 
477 votes last time (down from 567 votes the time before). Conservative. Seems to prefer working behind the scenes, and says little in public at Council meetings. Unremarkable performance to date but perhaps focuses more on her ward concerns. Well connected in various local community organisations.

 LANYON, Carol Lynn 
Liberal Democrat. Was elected to St Annes On the Sea Town Council and only missed winning a Fylde Borough seat by 9 votes when she polled 468 to Angela Jacques' 477). Rose to prominence in the Heeley Road Hostel issue which galvanised her interest in local politics. Was quickly snapped up by the Liberal Democrats for whom she has now become a solid, mainstay, party worker doing far more than her fair share of the work for the cause. She is now experienced in local Government and Vice Chair of the Town Council's Planning Committee. She also had a key role in the Ashton and St Leonard's Ward 'Police and Community Together' meetings.

Having cut her teeth on the Town Council, she is even more ready for office at the Borough Council. Her hard work on the Town Council, and via community voluntary activity like working on the allotments, helping in a practical way in the St Annes in Bloom scheme, and in the collection of Christmas Trees for the sand dunes, means she has made contact with many of her electorate which should stand her in good stead this time.

If elected, we think she will slip into the role as thought she had been there for years. Like Princess Karen, she is setting out her stall very well, and we would not be surprised to see her elected, if not this time, then very soon.

 SNEDDON, Andrew 
Standing for the Green Party which is fielding several candidates in Fylde this time around. Fylde did once elect a Green Party Councillor, (back in the 1980's we think), but they have not been a force to be reckoned with sine then. We suspect they hope to capitalise on the anti-fracking vote.

 STAINING & WEETON WARD FBC 2 seats available 

 POUNDER, Albert George 
Conservative. Polled 475 last time (elected uncontested the time before). He was a Cabinet Portfolio Holder and 'bruiser figure' for the Conservatives. A hard man with a strong will and a stentorian voice when he chooses to use it. We wonder if his could be one of the Conservative seats at risk this time.

 SINGLETON, John Rossall 
Conservative. Polled 582 votes last time, having won in an uncontested seat the time before. We have high regard for Cllr Singleton, not least because of his ably demonstrated integrity in the matter of declaring interests, where his conduct has been above and beyond what was called for. As Chair of Fylde's Audit Committee we couldn't think of a better role for him, and we have been impressed with his ability to grasp the (often arcane and complex) issues there. We would be surprised if he is not re-elected.

Labour. We believe this is the wife of Jed Sullivan (who is standing to be Fylde's Labour MP). Generally, (as we have said above) we wouldn't expect Labour to do well in Fylde because of the demographics. But they could just have spotted an opening (or dropped lucky) here. Staining has had a Labour Councillor before (The well respected and hard working Alf Goldberg), and at the last election, on a turnout of 43% (1,750 votes) the combined 'non-Conservative' votes of Independent (355), Labour (242) and Green (96) candidates totalled 693. The Conservatives each polled 582 and 475.

This time, the only alternative to the Conservative candidates is this one Labour candidate. It's evident there is a tapable pool of non-conservative votes to be had if she can work the magic and persuade people to vote for her.

 WARTON & WESTBY WARD FBC 3 seats available 
 CORNAH, Michael 
Conservative. Was elected in Lytham's Park Ward coming a very close second to Pat Fieldhouse with 1,014 votes. Stood in Lytham (St John's Ward) last time, and just failed to make it with 672 votes to the late Independent Kath Harper's 704 votes when he came fourth, so he is more well known and popular than some candidates under the Conservative flag. Whether he is known as well outside Lytham is unclear, but he must have a good chance.

 BRICKLES, Julie Ann 
Independent. Stood for the first time in 2011; came second with 725 votes and was elected. Member of Warton Parish Council who was strongly endorsed by the outgoing and popular Independent former Councillor Janine Owen, Since then she has cemented herself absolutely into Warton's civic life and is becoming the undisputed Queen of Warton. She is able, determined, tenacious and absolutely will not give up on an issue about which she feels strongly. She was the Councillor who spotted that David Eaves had not been elected Leader when he should have been and, despite strong contradiction from Fylde's officers, she persisted until she forced an extra-ordinary meeting to re-elect Fylde's Leader. She is also a prominent opponent of fracking. Dogged and determined, she is a no-nonsense practical sort of person which - as readers will know - is what we think FBC is short of.

 BRICKLES, Michael 
Also standing as an Independent candidate and looking to match the dynastic operation of other Warton families he is the husband of Julie Brickles. Quieter and perhaps more thoughtful in his manner, he is no less determined and tenacious.

GILBERT, Michael
572 votes last time (up from the 398 votes he polled the time before). Also standing as an Independent, he is one of the most experienced councillors in Fylde Borough. He has been a Borough Councillor before, and is a solid fixture of Warton Parish Council. A stickler for accuracy and detail, he has forgotten more about the rules of running councils than most people know. His accuracy is not always well received though, as it makes others seem less able or competent (which generally they are).

 OGDEN, Jack 

Standing for the Labour Party but not known to us.

 TAYLOR, Richard 
Conservative. Very able and competent recent Chairman of the Parish Council who is also related to Warton's 'Rigby' dynasty which will stand him in good stead. We have been impressed seeing him in action and think he would make a good Borough councillor. We suspect that, if elected, he will not take kindly to the constraints that a party will impose on him, (much as we believe the former and very able Conservative Cllr Peter Wood found before he resigned partway through his term). But only time - and Warton's electorate, of course - will tell.

It's all for you to decide on Thursday

Dated:  3 May 2015


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