Alex is 19 and Bernard is 84 but both are among the candidates for the 39 seats on Fenland District Council on May 7
- Credit: Archant
At 19, Alex Oates for the Greens is the youngest and at 84 Bernard Keane, an independent, is the oldest of the 87 candidates lined up to fight the 34 seats on Fenland District Council.
The council has 39 seats up for election (down from 40 because of boundary changes) but five Conservative candidates found themselves unopposed when nominations closed.
The Tories have been in control for all of the 21st century and at the moment have 32 councillors but are under fire in Wisbech, from UKIP, and in March from a larger than usual number of independent candidates.
UKIP did well in the county elections in 2013, exceptionally well in the European elections a year later but have fared less well in recent by elections.
This time round they are fielding 14 candidates – the same number as Labour- that includes Parliamentary candidate Andrew Charalambous. The London multi millionaire property tycoon is fighting not only to oust sitting MP Steve Barclay but is also hoping to win a Wisbech Town Council as well.
The UKIP national housing spokesman is not the only district council candidate with Parliamentary ambitions. Helen Scott-Daniels is combining the Parliamentary hustings with aspirations to win the Medworth district council ward in Wisbech.
Cabinet member Michelle Tanfield is fighting to retain her Elm and Christchurch seat whilst simultaneously fighting a Manchester Parliamentary seat 160 miles away in Manchester.
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“I don’t stand a chance of getting in as we only get around 10pc of the votes, but it is good experience,” she said.
“At some point in the future I would like to be an MP, but right now this is just to gain experience. I have been on the candidates list for two years and when this opportunity came up I thought ‘why not?’
“It is better to have a paper candidate than leave a seat empty. I will not be campaigning in Manchester or putting any energy into it. My heart is in supporting the Conservatives in Fenland and always will be.”
Mrs Tanfield is facing Labour stalwart Graham Stringer in the fight for Blackley and Broughton, where the Tories bagged 18.3pc of the vote in 2010; a long way behind Mr Stringer’s 54.3pc.
Mr Stringer told the Manchester News: “It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s an insult to the people of Blackley and Broughton and is typical of how the Tories think of the north of England.
“It’s also an insult to Conservative voters. They shouldn’t have to vote for someone who can’t be bothered to go to the constituency and give them the respect they deserve.”
Elsewhere in Fenland – and after three decades in politics- former council leader Alan Melton is taking a break. He says he may be back but for now he’s handed his ward over to former European boxing champion Dave ‘Boy’ Green to fly the Tory flag. The Chatteris born former boxer, who later went on to run a successful business in the town, might find it as tough as his earlier career. His opponent will be Sandra Rylance, who entered politics for the first time two years ago as part of the UKIP intake of 2013 to the county council.
There are many intriguing encounters across the district – not least in March where 10 candidates will fight for three seats in one ward.
And in Wisbech it looks set to be a stormy encounter where former mayor Nick Meekin has switched from the Conservatives to UKIP and has been left alone by other parties to take on Tory cabinet member David Oliver.
Former Tory cabinet member Phil Webb is also hoping its ‘pay back’ time as he again attempts to get re-elected. Ousted by a contentious internal party selection five years ago he has since tried, unsuccessfully, as an independent but is now wearing UKIP colours in Elm and Christchurch.
In March other Tories who quit the party have chosen to stand as independents and their number includes former Fenland Council chairman Mr Keane and Peter Tunley.
* Voters in Whittlesey get an extra vote on May 7 following the resignation of former county council leader Martin Curtis. In Wisbech South county councillor Peter Lagoda, elected as a UKIP member in 2013 but later suspended following his conviction for benefit fraud, also resigned. The one time Kings Lynn Tory borough councillor’s resignation came too late for a by election on May 7- ironically though nominations for that election close at 4pm on polling day. The resulting by election is scheduled for June 4.