…This is an ALL OUT Election and the Conservatives could lose control of Rochford District Council.
But this is not news for our local papers who have failed to tell readers that there even IS an Election….
And they certainly have a point. But the local papers aren’t the only ones keeping the elections quiet. The Lib Dems have two websites mentioning the local council elections (including this one), Rochford Residents have one website, the Conservatives don’t seem to have any. For example look at today’s front page of the local Conservative Party website. It’s about the same as the previous 400 days. Maybe they have a technical problem.
Rochford District Council’s own website doesn’t give much publicity to the elections either. This is last night’s front page – the highlighted story was on self-build housing.
You can get to election information here – either by clicking on the pale green link “Elections on May 5th – Notice of Poll”, or by clicking on “Council and Democracy” and following a longer route. But it could be more obvious.
This year the election count is taking place on the Friday morning, which is both good and bad from the candidates point of view. It’s good because it’s such a complicated count this time that it would literally last all night and into breakfast time, so we’d be absolutely exhausted and be too tired to drive home safely. It[s bad because some candidates will be so excited or anxious that they won’t be able to sleep much anyway.
In any case the candidates will go to the count on Friday morning with a range of emotions. But people don’t display those emotions very much , not until the result is declared. It’s considered bad form to gloat, or to whimper. Two candidates who have been fierce opponents during the campaign will often stand next together looking at the ballot papers being counted in the same detached way that a couple of surgeons might discuss a mildly interesting case of appendicitis in front of them. “Looks like you are just ahead ” one will say . “Oh, it’s too soon to tell” will come the reply.
Though usually it does becomes clear who’s ahead.The person with the biggest pile of ballot papers allows him or herself a relieved smile, and thinks about who to thank in the little victory speech.
But it doesn’t always become clear at all. We’ve seen people in Rochford win council seats by one , two or three votes. When the victory margin is small the loser quite rightly ask for a recount. A recount doesn’t normally change things by very much But if you are, say,four votes behind after the original count, you might be only two behind after the recount. Then you ask for a second recount…..
And what happens if two candidates are tied? It happened with a District Council election in Hullbridge back in the 80s, when two candidates got the same number of votes. The answer is, you toss a coin…
Hockley is another ward where we have three Tories facing three opposition candidates – in this case two Rochford Residents candidates and one Labour. Hockley is traditionally a very ‘blue’ area. But they elected three very good Hockley Residents Association councillors in the 1990s, and of course Michael Hoy is the Green Party County Councillor for this area.
There are only two opposition candidates standing here – one Labour and one Rochford Resident. So the Conservatives are guaranteed at least one seat here.
Hawkwell West is the stronghold of Christine and John Mason, and the Rochford Residents could have been expected to sweep the board here. But they don’t have a third candidate here , which means that former councillor Liz Marlow may make a comeback for the Tories. Unless Labour’s Robert Clemenson can grab the third spot. Only he and the Masons have a Hawkwell postal address, which is a point in his favour. Also he is at the top of the ballot paper.
It’s about time we wrote about some more of the District Election contests….
In Lodge Ward there are 3 Tories facing one Labour, 1 Rochford Resident, 1 Lib Dem and 1 UKIP. All the candidates live in Rayleigh. Can the the Tories win all 3 seats that are up for grabs, or will Tory voters prefer a balance, and give one or two of their votes to the other candidates? Whatever happens, at least one of the Lodge councillors will be a new councillor, as only two current councilors are standing here.
Trinity Ward has a real slugfest – four of the candidates are sitting councillors, so at least one of them will be defeated.UKIP already have a councillor here (John Hayter) and it’s surprising that they aren’t fielding 3 candidates.
Wheatley’s is a 3 Tories vs 3 opposition candidates contest. In this case the opposition are an independent, a Labour candidate and a Lib Dem. We were chuffed to see that the independent, Jamie Burton (ex UKIP) had included some quotes about himself from onlineFOCUS in his leaflet.
And one of those on the ballot paper as a Conservative candidate is Anne Holland. And yes, that is the same Cllr Anne Holland who currently represents Southchurch on Southend Borough Council and is the deputy leader of the Conservative Group.
Now, I’ve mentioned Cllr Holland before, in the context of the Conservatives’ tendency to have ‘non-doms‘ amongst their councillors, who sit on the council and vote on measures such as the council tax, but live outside the borough so don’t have to pay the rates they set.
Being an elected representative in two different local authorities is quite another matter, though.
The first election that I fought was a by-election back in 2011, triggered by my own local councillor at that point winning election in the neighbouring borough and resigning. I’ve been looking over electoral law, and should Cllr Holland win in Foulness & the Wakerings, then she would be legally able to remain as a member of both councils, no matter how absurd it seems…”
The elections are pretty complicated this year, this is what’s going on…
There are Rochford District Council Elections on May 5th.
All 39 seats are up for election. You can download the list of candidates here.
The ward boundaries have been changed – there are going to be 13 wards that will elect 3 councillors each.
If you have a vote , you will be able to vote for up to 3 candidates.
The Conservatives currently control the council , with 26 councillors.
There are 12 opposition councillors – 2 Liberal Democrats, 2 Greens, 2 Rochford Residents, 2 UKIP , 2 Labour and 2 independents. Plus there is 1 vacant seat.
We believe the Conservatives have ruled for too long. The cabinet system they use is undemocratic and expensive, and leads to arrogance. They have pushed through allocations of land for development against massive public opposition and without thinking enough about infrastructure – or indeed about alternative sites.
The Conservatives have a very strong party machine , but it is possible – just – that they could lose 8 seats and lose control of the council. If this happens, it means that we will have a balanced council where the various opposition groups will be able to outvote the Conservatives. There is NO chance of Labour, or UKIP, or any other group , winning 20 seats and taking control by themselves.
The Liberal Democrats currently hold one ward – Downhall and Rawreth, and we hope our local team there can win again and carry on working for that area. We also have candidates in Sweyne Park and Grange (where we have had Lib Dems elected in recent times), Lodge, Wheatley, Rochford North & Rural and Foulness & the Wakerings. We have not challenged the Greens in Hullbridge or the Rochford Residents in Hawkwell.
If you don’t have a Lib Dem standing in your area but wish there was somebody, please contact us about possibly standing there yourself next time. 🙂
There are also Town Council election contests in parts of Rayleigh, and parish council elections in some other parts of the district. Plus there is an election for the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner.
The candidates for the Rochford District Council and town and parish council elections have now been announced – you can find them on the District Council website here and here.
Tonight we’ll look at the north-western end of the district – Sweyne Park and Grange, Downhall and Rawreth, and Hullbridge. There are 3 district council seats up for grabs in each of them.
SWEYNE PARK AND GRANGE
3 Tories, 1 Lib Dem (James Newport), 1 Rochford Resident and 1 Labour are standing. Interestingly, there is no UKIP here. Obviously , we hope that James can win one of the three seats for us. It’s possible that James, Toby Mountain and the Labour chap Mr Archer could all win, and the Conservatives win none.
For the Town Council, the Tories have won 4 seats- unopposed by any other candidates.
DOWNHALL AND RAWRETH
3 Lib Dems (Chris Black, Ron Oatham and Chris Stanley) , 3 Tories, 1 Labour and 1 Rochford Resident (who lives in Hullbridge). Once again, no UKIP. Obviously we are hoping to win all three seats here and strengthen our team.
For the Town Council, the seats are contested between Lib Dems and Tories (we will write more about this later)
There’s a big ballot paper for Hullbridge – 3 Greens, 3 Tories, 3 Labour and 1 UKIP. The biggest surprise is to see Angelina Marriot switch from Labour to Tory. Also interesting to see former Labour councillor David Flack standing here again. With the Greens already holding 2 of the 3 seats, we’re going to stick our necks out here and say the Greens are the best option to keep the Tories out.
There are also elections for Hullbridge Parish Council, with a total of 13 candidates.
We are delighted to have James Newport standing as a candidate in West Rayleigh. As often happens, James is standing for both Rochford District Council and Rayleigh Town Council:
District Council: the new Sweyne Park and Grange Ward
Town Council: the new very small Victoria Ward.
James owns a small business and has lived in Rayleigh with his family for 15 years, first in London Road and now in Cheapside West. He has been very actively involved with the campaigning against over-development in West Rayleigh / Rawreth area and would be a very dedicated , determined councillor.
James will be getting involved on onlinefocus and will be writing here during the campaign.
After our dreadful results last year in the General Election, we are rebuilding the party, both nationally and locally. Party membership has increased since the elections, and locally we are making good progress – we have social events again now, and a new fully-fledged committee! We are also actively seeking good local candidates for future elections.
One of the people who’s been helping us is Lorna Dupre, who helps organise things for the Eastern Region of our party. . So we are especially delighted that she won an election last night herself – a landslide gain for the Lib Dems on Cambridgeshire County Council:
There’s an extraordinary meeting of the full District Council on January 12th. Its purpose? To confirm where the polling stations will be for the all-out elections on new ward boundaries in May. You can download the full list here.
If you see anything that seems odd or needs to be queried, please let us know – otherwise it could be a very short meeting!
Labour won the Rochford Ward by-election last night – by just 4 votes!
Matthew Softly Labour 332
Michael Lucas-Gill Cons. 328
Nicholas Cooper UKIP 250
Dan Irlam Lib Dem 114
Labour Majority 4
Labour GAIN from Conservative. The turnout was only 17.95%.
The share of the vote , compared with the last election last May, was as follows:
Labour 32.4%. Up by 3.2% on May
Conservative 32.0%. Down by 8.2%
UKIP 24.4%. Down by 6.2%
Lib Dem 11.1% Up by 11.1%
So congratulations to Mr Softly. This now means there are 2 Labour Councillors on RDC – they can now form their own group. Rochford has always bean the strongest ward for them in the district, represented in the past by such great figures as Maureen Vince and Charlie Stephenson. Also our commiserations to Mr Lucas-Gill, coming second by such a narrow margin in such very difficult circumstances.
As for us – we started this election campaign in Rochford with an eighteen year old inexperienced candidate, with no history of standing in the ward since about 2003 (we got 7% then). We finished it with a much more experienced, enthusiastic candidate who is getting very well known, attracting helpers and with a position just 218 votes behind the winner. There is much to look forward to at future elections around Rochford, as part of our campaigning to try to help in the local area.
To win in local elections you really need a big team of leafletters. If you can help Dan for future leaflet deliveries please let us know!