Hartlepool local election 2019: How Thursday’s vote could impact the council chamber
People will be able to help dictate the future make up of the town’s council chamber in the local elections this week.
On Thursday residents in Hartlepool will go to the polls to vote for who they want to elect as their local councillor for the next year, with the results expected in the early hours of Friday morning.
One councillor will be elected in each of the town’s 11 wards, meaning one third of the 33 councillors in the town will be elected.
At the end of the last full meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council in March the council was made of up 18 Labour representatives, six Independent Union, six Independents and three Conservatives.
Soon after Coun Tony Richardson, an independent councillor after the Putting Hartlepool First Party disbanded, joined the Independent Union Party, giving them their seventh seat.
However, since then there has been wider changes, as three then Labour councillors resigned from the party and joined The Socialist Labour Party.
These include Allan Barclay and Sandra Belcher, whose seats in Manor House and Jesmond wards respectively, are up for election this time around.
The pair will be keen to be elected to continue serving their wards, although Labour will be hoping to be again be elected in the seats.
However, the Manor House seat will also see challenges from UKIP, which will be keen to gain councillors in the chamber, and Conservative candidates.
Meanwhile Jesmond will see challenges from UKIP, Independents and the Independent Union, who are standing candidates in five wards and will be looking to increase the number of seats it holds to challenge the Labour administration and force a ‘No Overall Control’ for the council.
The Independent Union’s James Brewer was elected as councillor for Hart late last year after a by-election following the resignation of Labour’s Paul Beck.
He will be hoping to retain his seat after just over six months in the role, although it is expected to be a close contest between him and the only other candidate for the seat, Labour’s Aileen Kendon.
Ms Kendon received just 55 fewer votes than the Independent Union candidate in the by-election, and she also stood as a candidate in last year’s local elections in Hart.
A new councillor is guaranteed to be elected in the Victoria and Headland and Harbour wards, with the previous Labour councillors not standing, and the party hoping to defend the seats despite challenges from numerous parties.
There will also be a new councillor in Rural West, after long-standing Conservative Councillor George Morris stood down, and Conservative candidate Cameron Stokell will be hopeful of retaining the seat for the party.
Rural West will be one of two wards, along with Victoria, to see a Liberal Democrat candidate standing for election.
Meanwhile long-standing Labour councillors Rob Cook and Kevin Cranney will again be hoping to maintain their seats for Labour, with the former facing challenges from The For Britain Movement and Conservatives in the De Bruce ward, and the latter facing opposition from six other candidates in Foggy Furze.
The Fens and Rossmere ward will see Labour’s Jim Lindridge hoping to retain his seat amid challenges from the Independent Union’s Peter Joyce and Independent candidate Howard Davies.
Leisa Smith will be standing to retain her seat as an Independent in Seaton, with challenges from Labour, Conservatives and UKIP, while the Burn Valley ward will be a two-way battle between Independent Ged Hall, hoping to hold his seat, and the Labour Party candidate Ann Johnson.
Councillors elected this year will only be guaranteed their role for one year, as in 2020 all seats will be up for election following the boundary review for Hartlepool.
Last year the turnout for the local election was just 24.05% with a total of 16,943 verified votes from an electorate of 70,453.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service