Parties launch local campaign

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WITH just three weeks to go before next months local council elections the race has hotted up with the various parties launching their respective campaigns.

Registered voters will get the chance to decide the future of Scarborough Council with all 50 seats across the borough being contested.

There are currently 24 Conservatives, 13 Independents, five Lib Dems, three Greens, two Labour councillors, two from the Cluster of Independent Members and one with no political affiliation.

Cllr Tom Fox, the current leader of the council and leader of the Conservative group, said: “We have worked hard to get to grips with the costs of delivering services whilst maintaining front line services.

“We have done this through a common sense approach to decision making, if money is not available then it cannot be spent. We will continue with that approach whilst continuing to work with the public to ensure the council is totally open and transparent in all it does.

“New jobs and investment are a priority for us and a zero tolerance to crime and disorder will see us working even more closely with the police.“

A total of 37 people have decided to stand as independent candidates in next month’s poll and their campaign was this week launched by the Independent Group of Scarborough.

Cllr Peter Popple, the group leader, said: “The Independent group leadership are delighted, but not surprised, by the very high number of people standing as Independents in the May 5 local council elections.

“We feel the unprecedented number of residents, 37, willing to stand as Independent councillors, as opposed to standing for one of the political parties, reflects the general dissatisfaction many people currently have with our local political groups.

“Change is perhaps a word which has been over used by politicians in recent times but in Scarborough’s case if people genuinely want a complete change in the way politics are conducted in the borough then at this election they will certainly have the opportunity to use their vote to bring about significant change in the Town Hall.”

Cllr Brian Simpson, the leader of the Lib Dem group, said that voters should remember that locally the party did not reflect the political situation nationally. He added: “As Councillors we are committed to devolving more responsibility to individual communities, we have a strong belief that residents are very capable of shaping their own neighbourhoods and that a councillor’s role is to support this process.

“Liberal Democrat Councillors are not under the direction of a head office and we have proved that the votes we cast in the council chamber are based on what our communities tell us.”

The Labour Party will field 27 candidates in the election, in all but three of the wards, and group leader, Cllr Eric Broadbent, said that he believed the party could take power.

He added: “I think it is achievable. We believe that at the moment Scarborough Council is not looking after people’s interests. We believe we can deliver what the people in Scarborough want.”

And this year’s council elections will see a record number of Green Party candidates with 16 candidates standing across the borough – compared with 13 in 2007.

Cllr Dilys Cluer said: “We think it’s important to field as many candidates as possible in order to give voters the green choice. They’ll have this in fifteen of the 25 wards this year, and we’d like to build up to standing in all wards in the future.

“The Green Party has gone from strength to strength since Caroline Lucas was elected as the first Green MP in last year’s General Election. In Scarborough the victory of Jonathan Dixon and Dilys Cluer in 2007 and of Nick Harvey in a later by-election has also shown that Green Party candidates can win.”

This year Trisha Scott, who has previously stood for the British National Party, is standing for the National Front. She said: “This is the first election to be contested by the National Front in Scarborough, although it is the oldest Nationalist party in the UK, it is a very recent addition to the local political scene. I would like to think that residents would consider voting National Front as an alternative to the main parties.”

The Evening News will be introducing the various candidates across the Scarborough area, on a ward by ward basis, in the next couple of weeks.