By-election set to be held this week following death of serving councillor

The candidates in the Wingate by-election are, clockwise from top left, Edwin Herbert Simpson (Liberal Democrat), John Robert Higgins (Labour), Gareth David Anthony Fry (The For Britain Movement), and Stephen Joseph Miles (North East Party).
The candidates in the Wingate by-election are, clockwise from top left, Edwin Herbert Simpson (Liberal Democrat), John Robert Higgins (Labour), Gareth David Anthony Fry (The For Britain Movement), and Stephen Joseph Miles (North East Party).

A new county councillor is set to be elected in East Durham this week.

The four-way fight for the  Wingate division will take place in a by-election on Thursday, March 14.

This follows the death of long-serving councillor Robert ‘Leo’ Taylor who died last December, aged 77, after a short illness.

Four candidates are currently in the running for the seat and are making a bid to secure your vote.

Polling stations will open on Thursday between 7am-10pm at Wingate Community Centre and Gully House, in Gully Road.

JOHN ROBERT HIGGINS (Labour Party)

“John has spent his whole life living in and working for Wingate.

“He stands for traditional Labour Party values and believes that when a community works together they can achieve great things.

“Within Wingate, John has volunteered as a school governor, trade union representative, parish councillor and is currently treasurer of Wingate Community Centre.

“He helped to establish a credit union for residents of the village and has been hugely influential in retaining the Citizen’s Advice Service.

“As part of the parish council, in spite of the challenges of austerity, John has been instrumental in delivering the beautiful new Pit Wheel monument, the restoration of the historic crossing gates and the introduction of the Christmas lights.

“He takes his responsibility as a parish councillor very seriously, representing the concerns of residents, not just his own view.

“As the only candidate from Wingate, John is in touch with the village and its issues.”

STEPHEN JOSEPH MILES (The North East Party)

“Stephen Joseph Miles is 61 and was born and bred in Wingate.

“He’s proud to have the opportunity to stand as The North East Party candidate in the County Council by-election for a village he loves and in which many of his friends and family live.

“Steve is passionate about Wingate and says the people of Wingate deserve a councillor who will be open and transparent and who will represent their best interests first and foremost.

“He won’t make decisions or act against the will of what the majority of the people of Wingate want – it’s called being democratic.

“He will work with local community groups and the police to tackle anti-social behaviour and will be looking to replicate a lot of the good work that’s been happening in Peterlee with youngsters; as well as working with residents to help combat litter, fly-tipping and dog fouling.”

EDWIN HERBERT SIMPSON (Liberal Democrats)

“I have decades of experience both as a councillor and working in industry.

“I have spoken to hundreds of Wingate residents. They’re concerned the village hasn’t had its fair share of investment.

“Roads and footpaths are in a shocking state. I will get them fixed.

“Speeding through the village is horrendous. I will put 20mph zones outside Wingate’s schools, and aim to reintroduce the traffic calming removed on Wellfield Rd.

“I aim to tackle the village’s 75 empty properties and run down areas which contribute to local crime problems.

“Littering is dreadful and I will make sure the council keeps on top of it.

“The parish council gets £145,000 a year off residents. I’m concerned about how this money is being spent. This needs challenging.

“I will report back regularly online and with leaflets and start to fix years of Labour neglect in the village.”

GARETH DAVID ANTHONY FRY (The For Britain Movement)

“Gareth Fry, ex-Royal Naval CPO and Falkland Islands veteran lives and works in Durham.

“Decided to get into local politics when it became clear the current politicians are ignoring their electorate.

“People are always saying what should be done but then do nothing themselves

“I decided to do something about it.

“My priorities became focused after my grandson, Noah, spent the last 17 months in hospital after being born at 24-weeks gestation in Sept 2017, talking to NHS staff and seeing the shortages, combined with the amount of money visitors and staff were spending on parking, I decided to make NHS my main concern

“Being a veteran it dismays me that veterans are treated badly and more and more are ending up homeless and without hope.

“There are plenty of empty buildings which can be turned in to temporary shelters for the homeless before we develop green sites for new homes.”

Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service