One week today sees what may be the deciding round in the current close fight for overall control of Walsall Council, as a third of Councillors across the borough go to the polls to test both the popularity or otherwise of their parties and the appreciation or not of local people for the work they do, both on their own ‘patch’ and in the Council Chamber.
The current composition of Walsall Council is shown on Wikipedia via this link. As you can see, after the 2011 elections the Conservative Party currently holds 28 seats, down from 33 in 2010; last year Labour leapt from 18 seats to 26; and distant runners-up the Liberal Democrats lost 1 seat, knocking them back from 6 to just 5, with 1 ‘other’ making up the numbers in Lichfield Street.
The Poll will take place on Thursday, 3 May between 7am – 10pm, and apart from national politics and traditional allegiances which always have an effect, some of the biggest issues in local voters’ minds are bound to be controversial Council cuts and Councillors’ allowances, not to mention the state of the local economy, jobs, potholes – and parking!
Personalities are also going to be a factor in some quarters, as well as surprise changes of allegiance; for example former long-serving Bloxwich East Conservative Les Beeley is turning out as an Independent this time, while new Tory on the block Peter Hyruk is being parachuted in to compete against him and the resurgent Labour vote in the Grand Duchy, including popular Bloxwich East incumbent Julie Fitzpatrick.
Mr Beeley had previously been defeated in May 2011 by Shaun Fitzpatrick of Walsall Labour, and in a double-whammy later that year Mrs Fitzpatrick stormed ahead to win for Labour in the by-election which followed the death of long-serving Tory Bill Tweddle.
The big question is, can an apparently revitalised Walsall Labour Party take more seats from both the Tories and the few remaining Liberal Democrats, gaining overall control of the Council House, or will the Conservatives bounce back?
The margin is a narrow one, and much will depend on who can motivate their voters best, as turnout in such local elections is notoriously poor. The Bloxwich Telegraph will watch with interest, and report back on the results, fresh from the fray!
For Polling Stations and various other details including Candidates and their addresses borough-wide, see the pdf DOWNLOAD on Walsall Council’s website via this link.
If you do not already know your Polling Station, then do check this list, as some of them have been changed from the last election, notably in Bloxwich East where voting has been moved from Lower Farm Primary School to Holy Ascension Church this time around.
A brief list of candidates in our own area, by Ward:
Bob Ball British National Party
Leandra Gebrakedan Green Party
Matthew Conway Griffin Liberal Democrat
Tina Joan Jukes Labour Party
Chris Newey English Democrats
Chad Louis Pitt Conservative Party
Hilda Derry Conservative Party
Ian Charles Robertson Labour and Co-operative Party
Pete Smith No party indicated
BLOXWICH EAST Ward
Steve Baggott No party indicated
Les Beeley Independent
Julie Fitzpatrick Labour Party
Peter John Hyruk Conservative Party
BLOXWICH WEST Ward
Christine Cockayne Liberal Democrats
Abi Pitt Conservative Party
Mick Ross No party indicated
Fred Westley Labour Party