Published: 08:00, 12 May 2014 |
Updated: 08:54, 12 May 2014
Maidstone Borough Council is normally elected one third at the time, but the total has been boosted by resignations, and this month 20 of the 55 seats will be contested.
The Conservatives, who have run the council for the last six years, need to drop only three seats to lose overall control. They are defending 10 of the 20 seats up for grabs.
But whatever happens at the polls, they are set to lose some of their most experienced councillors with a number of veteran councillors standing down. They include Cllr Jenefer Gibson, 28 years in Headcorn; Cllr Eric Hotson, 23 years in Staplehurst, and Cllr Rodd Nelson-Gracie, 17 years in Marden and Yalding.
Both Labour and the Green Party are fielding more candidates this year, and Labour did pick up its first seat on the council last time around.
Two factors adding to the uncertainty are the intervention of five Independent candidates, including a former Conservative who quit the party over its house-building targets, and the arrival of UKIP.
UKIP is fighting every seat this time and hoping that the Euro-elections, which are held on the same day will help turnout.
Their candidates include Ericka Olivares-Penroz, who briefly achieved national notoriety when she confronted David Cameron on his visit to Yalding following the Christmas flooding. She joined UKIP after the Prime Minister’s visit because she was so incensed by his attitude and said she did not believe any of the main parties would keep their promises.
There is also an English Democrat standing in Shepway North.
One thing is certain, with a total of 97 candidates seeking election, voters have plenty to choose from on Thursday, May 22.
The Conservatives are starting from a position of strength. They are the ruling party on the council, with 30 of the 55 seats.
Cllr John Wilson, chairman of Maidstone and the Weald branch, said: “We are particularly proud of our record in Maidstone since we took control in 2008. Under Conservative stewardship, the borough is now independently rated one of the most successful economies in the UK. The council has been run efficiently and effectively, with significant investment in the town centre, Mote Park and the museum, despite vast Government funding cuts.
“The local elections this year coincide with European elections, where UKIP are expected to do well. Our message is simple: Your local Conservatives have worked very hard for you over the past six years – don’t lose them to a European protest vote.”
There are five independent candidates contesting seats in the local elections, who are all broadly taking the view that party politics should not play a part in local government.
They are Geoff Licence (Bearsted), Janetta Sams (Harrietsham and Lenham), David Savory (High Street), Carol Vizzard (Park Wood) and Paul Butcher (Staplehurst).
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