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Can the Tories hang on to power at Tendring in Essex?

PUBLISHED: 07:30 14 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:54 14 April 2019

Clacton Pier - a major tourist attraction in the area.

Clacton Pier - a major tourist attraction in the area.

Archant

Tendring council covers the north-east corner of Essex and includes major towns and countryside - and has been an area that has seen fluctuating political fortunes over the years.

There have been improvements in Jaywick, but it remains one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Picture: ECCThere have been improvements in Jaywick, but it remains one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Picture: ECC

This year’s election sees a major change in that the number of councillors is being seriously reduced, from 60 to 48 – and that means some sitting councillors have found themselves out in the cold.

Tendring has had an interesting political history since it was first formed in 1974. For its first 17 years, it was controlled by the Conservatives - but from 1991 it was firstly under no overall control, when Labour ran the district from 1995-99, and then it was under no overall control again until 2011 when the Tories returned to power as a majority administration.

In 2015 there was very strong show from UKIP – the area was the only place in the UK to elect a UKIP MP in that year’s general election.

However since then the decline in the national party has been mirrored in the district, with many of its councillors defecting to the Tories, becoming independents or resigning from the council altogether.

Frinton has a reputation for gentility - and its beach is very popular with tourists. Picture: PETER BASHFrinton has a reputation for gentility - and its beach is very popular with tourists. Picture: PETER BASH

In 2015 there were 22 UKIP councillors elected alongside 23 Tories. By the end of the council term, there were 33 Conservatives and just eight UKIP members left.

Tendring has also several independent and community association councillors – along with four Labour councillors and one Liberal Democrat.

Although Tendring is a largely rural district, the large towns in the district have traditionally provided a substantial Labour vote in council elections.

Harwich has been a good area for Labour with the votes of dock workers – and parts of Clacton were also good for the party. However UKIP made big inroads into its vote in recent elections – and it will be interesting to see what that happens to it this time. The party is only standing in five of the 32 council wards this time around.

Tendring is a district of contrasts – it has some of the poorest areas in the country, especially at Jaywick, but also areas of significant affluence like Frinton and towns and villages on the edge of Constable country.

Whether the Conservatives can take control on their own is not clear – but it is difficult to see any other group winning more seats than them in this year’s district council election.

Wealth and deprivation exist very close to each other on the Essex coast

Clacton-on-Sea is the largest town in Tendring, and tourism remains one of the districts most important industries.

That means much of the work in the in the area is seasonal – although reasonable road and rail links mean it has recently become more attractive to commuters prepared to travel further out of London.

Its coastline stretching from Dovercourt to Brightlingsea has encouraged a significant number of older people to retire to the area – but this has led to its own challenges.

Attractive towns like Frinton, Brightlingsea and Walton on the Naze have developed a very genteel reputation – as have the inland villages like Great Bentley, Alresford and the Oakleys – but there is significant deprivation in parts of Clacton, Jaywick and Harwich.

That all combines to make Tendring one of the most interesting councils in the region when it comes to this year’s local elections on May 2.

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