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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Carlisle council election will be closest for years - claim

The starting gun has been fired on what promises to be the closest-fought election in Carlisle for more than a decade.

All three main political parties are gearing up for what has the makings of a tight – and momentous – campaign when voters go to the polls for local authority elections on May 3.

Carlisle City Council is currently a hung authority with no single party in sole control.

That could change however when 17 of the 52 seats are contested. Nominations for candidates closed on Wednesday. Labour has already set out its pledges and aims to the electorate and has identified six key battlegrounds from the 17 seats available.

Labour, which has been in opposition for the past 13 years, is already the single biggest party on the council with 24 seats. But it needs 27 for a majority.

The council has been run by the Conservatives since 1999, latterly with support from the Liberal Democrats.

Group leader Dr Joe Hendry said: “This is going to be the hardest fought and closest election in this area in the last 10 to 15 years.

“It is not a done deal and we can’t assume that Labour will win because of people’s disaffection with the coalition government. We will win this through hard work and campaigning.

“The national picture does influence people’s views when they come to vote but we’ve found that through our campaigning so far it really is local issues that people are talking about. ”

He added: “There are six key seats for us. Four in the west of the city – Morton, Yewdale, Belle Vue and Castle wards. There are also the two in the north of the city – Belah and Stanwix. “We’ve been canvassing very hard in these key wards .

“We need to hold what we’ve got and win three of the six seats.

“I want us to win all six seats so we’ve got a good majority to build upon in the future. It is close enough to touch and I think this is going to be a crucial year in Carlisle’s future.”

Mike Mitchelson, the sitting Conservative leader of the council, agrees the election results could be tight, but the Tories will be battling to retain power. “It is going to be close, but it’s always close in Carlisle. There are certain wards where for years there have been some close battles. Belle Vue, Yewdale, Morton and Castle are all marginals,” he said.

A key battleground for all of the parties is likely to be the economy, with all highlighting the importance of future regeneration and projects to boost places including Botchergate.

Mr Mitchelson said: “We’re going to be focusing on the economy and the work we’re doing to stimulate the economy and provide jobs.

“We’re putting in bids to stimulate retail and get more people involved in retail. We have been reviewing our assets to stimulate economic growth. We’re pledging a two-year council tax freeze and have reduced car parking charges.

“It has been a difficult time. The public sector has had to manage with less resources. We have done that and not stopped any frontline services.

“We want people to take on board the fact that we have a track record of prudent financial management, which has been shown in the council tax, which we have kept down. Labour had a track record of high spending when they were last in control.”

The Liberal Democrats publish their manifesto next week. They have put candidates up in eight wards – Dalston, Morton, Yewdale, Belle Vue, Harraby, Denton Holme, Upperby and Castle.

Party stalwart Trevor Allison said the group wanted to retain its seats in Dalston, Morton and Castle. They have a sitting councillor, Olwyn Luckley, in Castle ward who is not up for re-election. But the Lib Dems will be battling for additional seat in the ward following the death of sitting Liberal Democrat Jim Tootle.

Mr Allison said: “We’re looking to defend the ones that we’ve got close links with. We realise that Labour seem to be on a high but we might just surprise them.

“I hope we can talk about issues like the financial position of the council. I’ve got a particular view about the city centre and its regeneration.”

Mr Allison says the Liberal Dems also want to “restore balance” to the west and south of the city following the opening of the long-awaited Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR).

“That is why I’m pushing the southern link to the CNDR to restore some balance,” he said.

“We’re seeing a migration of businesses to the north. It’s not just about traffic movement, so we want to see some balance.”

Belah
Ian Brewis (Green)
Andrew Hill (UKIP)
David Morton (Con)
Kevin Parker (Lab)

Belle Vue
Mike Clarke (Con)
Richard Hunt (Green)
Terrence Jones (Lib Dem)
Les Tickner (Lab)

Botcherby
Lynn Juliet Bates (Green)
Michael Boaden (Lab)
Shaidat Danmole-Ellis (Con)
Mike Middlemore (Ind)
Ivan Strong (UKIP)

Brampton
Graham Barlett (Lab)
Christian Matthew Forster (UKIP)
Steve Layden (Con)

Castle
Neil Boothman (Green)
Elsie Martlew (Lab)
Kevin Reynolds (Con)
Ian Walker (Lib Dem)

Currock
Stephen Bingham (BNP)
Colin Glover (Lab)
Stephen Higgs (Con)
Brent Kennedy (Trade Unionists and Socialists against cuts)

Dalston
Trevor Allison (Lib Dem)
Robert Dickinson ( UKIP)
Michael Randall (Con)
Sandra Gill Warwick (Lab)

Denton Holme
Barbara Eden (Con)
Joan Southward (Lab)
James Liam Tucker (Green)
John Duncan Warmingham (UKIP)
David John Wood (Lib Dem)

Great Corby and Geltsdale
Beth Furneaux (Lab)
Doreen Parsons (Con)

Harraby
Dallas Brewis (Green)
Hannah Dolan (Con)
Michael Gee (Lib Dem)
Edward Haughan (UKIP)
Lee Barbara Sherriff (Lab)

Hayton
Harry Newton Cain (Con)
William James Graham (Ind)
Michael John Owen (UKIP)

Morton
Arnold Bell Blythe (UKIP)
Gillian Curwen (Green)
Lawrence Fisher (Con)
Peter Noble (Lib Dem)
Elaine Mary Stephenson (Lab)

St Aidans
Robert Andrew Cakans (UKIP)
Christine Finlayson (Con)
Lucy Patrick (Lab)
John Reardon (Green)

Stanwix urban
Helen Davison (Green)
Paul Nedved (Con)
Grant Christopher Warwick (Lab)
Carol Weaver (UKIP)

Upperby
Donald Stewart Cape (Lab)
James Osler (Lib Dem)
Judith Pattinson (Con)

Wetheral
Michael Brader (Green)
Barry Earp (Con)
Roger Horne (Lab)
Geoff Round (UKIP)

Yewdale
Deborah Clode (Lib Dem)
Karen Gallagher (Lab)
Hazel Jane Graham (Green)
Fiona Robson (Con)

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