It's decision day tomorrow for many Fenland voters - while for others the decision is already made - full round-up of candidates in today's Citizen available at lots of outlets across the area
Fenland Conservatives have already seen success in tomorrow’s (Thursday) local elections after they retained control of three of the four town councils and a number of district seats without a vote being cast.
As a result the district has been named top ‘rotten borough’ by the Electoral Reform Society, with a spokesman describing large parts of England as effectively being democracy deserts, with potential voters denied a real choice at the polls.
Figures show 300 council seats in England have been guaranteed for either one party or an individual before a single cross has been placed on a ballot paper – affecting around 850,000 potential voters.
Voters will choose their representatives for Fenland district and parish councils at the polling stations from 7am-10pm tomorrow.
The Tories are already winners in Wisbech, Chatteris and Whittlesey with wards on all three town councils seeing councillors returned unopposed.
At district level the Tories, who have had a stranglehold for two decades, have already won 12 seats, with three more guaranteed as the Conservative candidates are unopposed in their wards.
There are 24 wards on the district council with a total of 39 members representing them and Fenland District Council, which is responsible for running the elections, will be announcing the results throughout Friday.
The first is expected to be announced by 10.30am from the Hudson Centre in Wisbech. The last should be known by 5pm. Verification – checking of ballot papers to make sure they are valid – will be carried out after 10pm tomorrow.
Town and village residents across the district will also be voting for their town and parish representatives. However, there are a few villages and town wards where there will be no voting as, once again, there were not enough candidates to prompt an election.
Those villages are – Benwick; Christchurch; Doddington; Gorefield; Leverington; Newton-in-the-Isle; Parson Drove; Tydd St Giles, Wimblington and Wisbech St Mary.
The town council wards where representatives have been elected unopposed are – Birch and Mills Wards, Chatteris; Clarkson, Medworth, and Staithe Wards, Wisbech; Coldham Ward Elm; Murrow Ward, Wisbech St Mary; March Rural North and South Wards.
Meanwhile multi-lingual information will be available at all Fenland polling stations to help prevent possible electoral fraud. The move comes after retiring Wisbech councillor Virginia Bucknor raised concerns following the last local elections in 2015.
Coun Bucknor raised the matter at the time but raised it again recently. She explained her worries centred on voting in the Waterlees Village Ward where she claims to have witnessed Eastern European voters being ‘escorted’ to a polling station where she was keeping a tally of the turn-out.
In a written response Fenland’s chief executive Paul Medd – who is also the returning officer – said: “Everything possible will be done to ensure that all voters are free to express their own personal choice without the fear of undue influence.” Letters were also being sent to agents on proxy voting.
He added: “We have agreed to provide appropriate multi-lingual information to assist non-English speaking voters at polling stations.”
A council spokesman declined to comment any further on what action, if any, was taken at the time Coun Bucknor’s concerns were raised.
The following candidates are vying for election in the towns and parishes:
Chatteris – Slade Lode: Astrid Charrier (I), Alan Gowler (C), Amanda Hirson (L), Mark Petrou (C). Wenneye: Linda Ashley (C), Peter Murphy (C), Florence Newell (C), Marian Phillips (L).
March – Central: Kit Owen (C), Robert White (G); East: Katharine Bultitude (L); Martin Field (L), Ray Jack (C); Mark Purser (C); Gary Tustin (C). North: Stephen Court (LD), Kim French (C), John Gowing (C), Silke Ibbotson (LD), Ruth Johnson (G), Peter Thompson (C). South: Jan French (C); Matthew Routledge (L), Robert Skoulding (C), Simon Wilks (G). Eastwood: Andrew Crowford (G), Carisha Gowndry (C).
Wisbech – Octavia Hill: Peter Freeman (I), Samantha Hoy (C), Peter Human (C), Clayton Payne (L), Susan Wallwork (C), Philip Wing (C). Peckover: Nick Meekins (I), David Oliver (C), Jess Oliver (C). Waterlees: Aigars Balsevics (C), Amy Broad (L), Jamie Edwards (C), Trevor Ketteringham (C), Andrew Maul (I), Ray Pearson (I), Billy Rackley (C). Kirkgate: Cameron Fraser (C), David Patrick (I), Garry Tibbs (C).
Elm & Friday Bridge – Cilla Adcock (I), Sarah Best (I), Norman Bloor (I), Victoria Bunting (G), Tracey Dalliday (I), Wendy Ferguson, Ivan McLaughlin (I), Robert Pinnock (I), Graham Stokes.
Manea – Ben Bonos, David Cole, Janet Coupland, Barry Cundell (I), Ann Desborough, Steve Emery, Lisa Eves, Charlie Marks, Mark Pratt, Barrie Short.
A full round-up of all candidates wanting your votes in the Fenland District Council election is in this week's Citizen with four full pages of pictures and a write-up for each one. You can pick up a FREE copy of the Citizen at lots of places across the area including: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Aldi, Jack's, Asda, most estate agents, libraries and many smaller outlets.
Or visit our website: www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk where you can access our FREE online e-edition.