A solicitor who today claimed Blackpool’s council leader has “lost touch” with the electorate is set to take him on at the ballot box.
Joanna Trafford, who successfully fought off a controversial bid by Blackpool Council to evict her from town hall-owned offices, is standing for UKIP against Simon Blackburn, who has been leader since the 2011 elections.
Ms Trafford said she had deliberately chosen to stand in Mr Blackburn’s Brunswick ward as a direct challenge against the Labour group leader.
She said: “Simon Blackburn has lost touch with his ward because he has been building his political career.
“The council spent £75,000 trying to evict me from my offices when that money could have been spent on grass roots work.
“I have looked at the issues in Brunswick and the area is a cocktail of poverty.
I have looked at the issues in Brunswick and the area is a cocktail of poverty
“Mr Blackburn sits in his plush new (council) offices overlooking his own constituency where people are really struggling and it just seems wrong to me.
“For example crime is increasing. According to the Lancashire crime statistics, recorded crime has gone up by 16.8 per cent in Brunswick between March 2014 and February 2015, and violence against the person has increased by 35.8 per cent over the same time.
“I want people to feel they can have better and that they deserve better.”
But Mr Blackburn defended his record and said Ms Trafford “should think twice before trying to use the people of Brunswick to capitalise on her petty personal grievances.”
He said: “I have never had, nor would I ever want, a political career.
“I have said on dozens of occasions that I have no interest whatsoever in being an MP.
“The most important thing to me is the wellbeing of the residents of Brunswick ward, I serve as leader of the council at the request of the Labour group.
“The redevelopment of the Queens Park estate, the proposed implementation of the selective licensing scheme, the introduction of school breakfasts and the
remodelling of residents parking zones are but a few of the achievements which I would point to, all of which have had huge positive effects on Brunswick.
“I have handled 694 pieces of casework since I started counting in 2010, and many hundreds more in the seven years before that.
“Joanna Trafford doesn’t live in Blackpool, has no connection with Brunswick, and should think twice before trying to use the people of Brunswick to capitalise on her petty personal grievances.
“I know from my eight years of serving them (Brunswick residents) that they are very astute people.”
In 2013 the council started proceedings to evict Ms Trafford’s firm North Solicitors from its offices at the council-owned Enterprise Centre on Lytham Road, South Shore.
The no win, no fee solicitor, who said she has decided to stand for UKIP because she felt she could make more of an impact representing an established party than as an independent, represented clients who had launched
legal action against the council for slips, trips and falls on the resort’s roads and pavements.
Council chiefs said the nature of Ms Trafford’s personal injury firm was “contrary to the stated aims and objectives of the council.”
Backing that viewpoint, Mr Blackburn had sent a letter to Ms Trafford in which he said: “The nature of your business is wholly contrary to the stated aims and objectives of Blackpool Council.”
But in January 2014 a judicial review quashed the council’s decision to end her tenancy.
Judge Stephen Davies said he felt it had been an act of “retaliation” on the council’s part and added at the time: “It seems to me the (council’s) decision can be categorised as either vindictive or irrational.”
In April last year Ms Trafford voluntarily relocated her business to offices in Chiswick Grove, Marton.
Ms Trafford added UKIP had policies specifically to help seaside towns, including plans for targeted funding for coastal areas.
The other candidates standing in Brunswick are Joey Blower (Conservative), Shirley Cantrell (Conservative), Gary Coleman (Labour), Colin Porter (UKIP) and Marek Radomski.