Election present for Bury Tories
TWELVE Conservatives have been returned unopposed to St Edmundsbury borough council – hailed by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring as "truly remarkable.
By GRAHAM DINES
TWELVE Conservatives have been returned unopposed to St Edmundsbury borough council – hailed by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring as "truly remarkable."
When nominations closed this week for the total postal ballot, Tories were left smiling broadly as their attempt to recapture control of the council was given a massive boost.
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Tories face no contests in Barningham, Barrow, Cavendish, Chedburgh, Clare, Fornham, Great Barton, Hundon, Ixworth, Risby, Stanton, and Withersfield.
"The fact that so many of our candidates in rural wards have been unopposed shows that the Liberal Democrat claim of presenting us with a real challenge has been proved unfounded," said Mr Spring.
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The lack of election in so many wards now frees up scores of Conservative activists to spend their time campaigning in other areas of the borough as the party tries to take back the council it won in 1999, but lost to a rainbow alliance last year when some of its councillors defected.
Labour's Ray Nowak, leader of the borough council, said his party had always found difficulty in finding the right candidates. "It is one of the faults of the system that all wards are up for election every four years rather than a proportion of seats each year, as happens in other councils."
One of the most interesting contests will be in Northgate ward, where Mayor-elect David Lockwood faces a challenge from Eric Flack, the chairman of Bury St Edmunds constituency Conservative association.
Nineteen of St Edmundsbury Borough Council's 31 wards will be contested along with six parish councils in the borough – Clare, Great Bradley, Hawstead, Horringer, Hundon and Thelnetham.
For the first time, St Edmundsbury voters will be able to choose at home which candidates they want to support because this will be an all-postal ballot.
The initiative – designed to persuade more people to vote – means there will be no polling stations on May 1. Ballot papers are due to be delivered to those registered on the electoral roll on April 22.
A borough council spokeswoman said: "People need to vote by marking their choice with a cross, as they would in a polling station, seal the paper, so their vote remains secret, and then get a witness to confirm their identity by signing the paper. The ballot papers then need to be folded, put in the supplied envelope and posted.
"The last recommended posting date is April 29, although ballot papers can be delivered by hand to the borough offices on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, or council offices in Lower Downs Slade, Haverhill up to 7pm on May 1, when the polls close."
A leaflet explaining the postal ballot process is being sent to every voter. There is a postal ballot helpline on 01284 757131, or e-mail email@example.com, and information is also available on St Edmundsbury Borough Council's website – www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk
The counts, which are being held in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill, will start at 9pm on May 1.
Nominations in full
Abbeygate (2 vacancies): Michael Ames (Ind), Paul Farmer (C), Brian Lockwood (Ind)
Bardwell (1): John Hale (C), James Lumley (UKIP)
Barningham (1): James Simmons (C) unopposed
Barrow (1): Ian Houlder (C) unopposed
Cavendish (1): Peter Stevens (C) unopposed
Chedburgh (1): Nigel Aitkens (C) unopposed
Clare (1): Jeffrey Stevens (C) unopposed
Eastgate (1): Leslie Button (Lab), Patricia Warby (C)
Fornham (1): Michael Jones (C) unopposed
Great Barton (1): Margaret Horbury (C)
Haverhill East (3): Gordon Cox (C), Ernest Goody (Lab), Patrick Hanlon (Lab), Susan Howard (Lab), Janet Johnson (C), David Rosen (C)
Haverhill North (3): Phillip French (Lab), John Harris (C), Laurence (known as Gerry) Kiernan (Lab), Timothy Marks (C), Edgar Morton (C), Ann Thomas (Lab)
Haverhill South (2): Pippa Farthing (C), Maggie Lee (Lab), Mary Martin (Lab), Dorothy Whittaker (C)
Haverhill West (2): Lynne Brixius (Lab), Jeremy Farthing (C), Julie Jupp (Lab), Adam Whittaker (C)
Horringer & Whelnetham (1): Albert (known as Bert) Biglin (Ind), Terence Clements (C)
Hundon (1): Margaret Warwick (C) unopposed
Ixworth (1): John Griffiths (C) unopposed
Kedington (1): Alan Pearson (Lab), Geoffrey Rushbrooke (C)
Minden (2): Margaret Charlesworth (C), Colin Muge (Lab), Ray Nowak (Lab), Derek Speakman (C)
Moreton Hall (3): Trevor Beckwith (Lab), Terence Buckle (C), Anthony Jones (Lab), Francis Warby (C), Elspeth (known as Elle) Zwandahl (Lab)
Northgate (1): Eric Flack (C), David Lockwood (Lab), Richard Mortlock (Ind)
Pakenham (1): David Chappell (LD), Christopher Spicer (C)
Risby (1): Helen Levack (C)
Risbygate (2): Mark Ereira-Guyer (Lab), Robert Everitt (C), Jennifer Hart (Lab), David Nettleton (Ind)
Rougham (1): Adrian Grenville (Lab), Sara Mildmay-White (C)
Stanton (1): John (known as Jim) Thorndyke (C) unopposed
St Olaves (2) – Robert Cockle (Lab), George Cockram (C), Hugh Tracey Forster (C), Sheila Wormleighton (Lab)
Southgate (2): David Bradbury (LD), Paul Hopfensperger (C), Allan Jones (LD), Martin Milnes (C)
Westgate (2): Desmond Astley-Cooper (LD), Robert Corfe (Lab), Stefan Oliver (C), Clifford (known as Gerry) Taylor (LD), Andrew Varley (C), Roger Walters (Ind)
Wickhambrook (1) – Alexander Bridges (C), Derek Redhead (Ind)
Withersfield (1) – Robert Clifton-Brown (C) unopposed.
Key: Conservative (C), Labour (Lab), Liberal Democrat (LD), Independent (Ind), UK Independence Party (UKIP).