So it's election time again in Rochford District , where the current make-up is 34 Tories, 4 Lib Dems and 1 independent/local party chap. There are 26 candidates this time standing in the 13 seats up for election.
The Conservatives keep their position controlling the council - to begin with, 4 of their councillors have been elected unopposed. But there are going to be some interesting contests in some of the other wards:
Ashingdon and Canewdon - Sitting Tory councillor Tracy Capon faces Andrew Vaughan (Green Party). Mr Vaughan stood in 2004 and lost by more than 300 here. But this time Labour aren’t standing, so the result could be rather closer…
Barling And Sutton. This is the most interesting election of the lot. Sitting Tory Councillor Richard Amner (Tory) faces Independent Robin Allen, who used to be a councillor here. Very difficult to predict how this one will go unless you live in this rural ward - lair of the Barling Bomber - and know the mood on the doorstep. How much impact will the Southend United Stadium application have?
Downhall and Rawreth . Sitting Lib Dem Councillor Ron Oatham faces Tory Roland Adams. Hopefully Ron will win… we got 73 percent of the vote last year.
Foulness and Great Wakering The shock here is that Labour aren’t standing in what used to be a strong area for them. Colin Seagers, the sitting Tory councillor, is re-elected without a contest.
Grange Ward (Rayleigh) Sitting Lib Dem Councillor June Lumley faces David Withers (Conservative). June deserves to be re-elected after the hard work she’s put in over the last 4 years. We got 66 percent of the vote last year. But can she beat off the the Tory political machine?
Hawkwell North. Lucy Cox is a new Tory candidate who lives in Little Wakering, replacing Maureen Starke who is stepping down. And Lucy is the only candidate here, so she is elected unopposed.
Hawkwell South. Sitting Tory Councillor Phil Capon is re-elected unopposed. So he has time to help his wife Tracy in Ashingdon…
Hawkwell West Sitting Tory Councillor Derek Stainsby faces experienced Labour campaigner Myra Weir.
Hockley Central Sitting Tory Councillor Keith Hudson is re-elected unopposed .
Hullbridge . A four-cornered contest . Sitting Tory Councillor Lesley Butcher faces Angelina Marriott (Labour ) Robin Hume (Green Party) and Robert Green (BNP). The rumours that the BNP were standing here have come true, although the fact that their candidate lives far way in Great Wakering won’t help them.
Lodge Ward, Rayleigh. Another four cornered contest. Sitting Tory Terry Livings faces Pat Putt (Lib Dem), Neil Kirsh (Green ) and Paula Hayter (English Democrats). Impossible to tell who’s going to win here. Mrs Hayter’s disadvantage is that not many people have even heard of the English Democrats. There’s a possible Lib Dem win here.
Rochford - A straight contest between sitting Tory councillor Sue Harper and David Lench for Labour. After the Tory victory last year you would expect them to win again…
Sweyne Park (Rayleigh) - This is a ward wedged between the 2 Lib Dem wards. Sitting Tory Peter Savill faces Liberal Democrat campaigner Jackie Dillnutt. The local Conservatives must be feeling a little anxious, they won by less than 200 last time. And this time Labour aren’t standing to split the anti-Tory vote.
So overall the Tories are looking strong but a little over-stretched, Labour are still in decline, the Hockley Residents and Hawkwell residents don’t have any candidates at all at district level and the Greens are standing in just 3 seats.
And what about us in the Lib Dems? To an outsider, having only 4 candidates seems pretty meagre. I've got to admit I feel pretty Ealing comedy compared with what Lib Dems do in other areas. But we are slowly regaining our strength in Rayleigh, though not having any candidates elsewhere is a great pity. And next year we don't have any seats to defend...