Fylde and Wyre will today, Thursday 4th May, go to the polls. Here’s your handy guide.
As Lancashire prepares to go to the polls, a politics expert says the county could provide a key to the forthcoming general election.
Professor David Denver, Emeritus Professor of Politics at Lancaster University, said: “Lancashire as a key county will be watched carefully.”
All parties are aware the county could give a clear indication of national trends as well as the mood of the north. The local elections today will decide who runs Lancashire County Council.
With 315 candidates competing for 84 seats on a council which has swung both left and right in the past decade, it could be a close run battle.
Politics experts say that where Lancashire leads, the whole country could follow in the general election on June 8.
Professor Denver said: “Lancashire is a big authority and certainly in the past it was a kind of swing county and at the moment with no overall control, the parties are desperate to win it.”
Last week a national analysis by academics from Plymouth suggested the Conservatives needed to gain seven more seats to gain power.
Meanwhile Labour, which has ruled for the past four years with support from the Liberal Democrats, is campaigning hard to get a clear majority. The Liberal Democrats locally say they hope to continue to have influence but acknowledge they are not going to harness a majority vote. Their targets are in Preston West and South West, Burnley and Pendle. UKIP is particularly focusing energies on areas such as Chorley and Preston – it has eight candidates seeking election in the city and seven in Chorley.
The Greens are especially focused in areas such as Lancaster and Wyre.
In Fylde there is a Fylde Ratepayers’ Association candidate and three Independents. OWL (Our West Lancashire) has two candidates.
In Wyre, where the contest could be acute in certain divisions, three independents are standing.
Pockets of the county face challenges too from minority parties such as TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition Against Cuts) which is standing in three Preston divisions.
The National Front has one candidate in Rossendale and two British National Party candidates are standing in Pendle.
While parties are fighting to win a battle of hearts and minds one of their biggest challenges is overcoming voter apathy. At the last county council elections in 2013 voter turn out was 31 per cent.
Some 618,237 people eligible to vote turned their back on the polls.
Just 282,271 citizens cared enough to vote and have a say on the multi-million pound spending organisation.
Those who did vote returned 39 Labour councillors, 35 Tories, six Liberal Democrats, three independents and one Green party councillor. To achieve overall control the majority party needed 43 seats.
Professor Denver believes it is possible the looming general election could focus people’s minds and make them keener to get out and vote, even if ultra local debate is overshadowed by the general election.
“It’s certainly the case that with local elections after a general election there’s a great drop in turnout. People will not show as much interest. My impression is that it could probably stimulate a bit more interest. But the tragedy for local government and local politics is that people are very much interested by the national state of play rather than by what the council has done.”Blackpool is a unitary authority so is not involved in these elections.
See www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk for all the results as they come in from the count on Friday.
Those standing in our wards
There are nine divisions and 40 candidates in Preston, eight in South Ribble with 25 candidates, eight in Wyre with 27 candidates, eight in Chorley with 32 candidates, four in Ribble Valley with 13
candidates and six in Fylde with 28 candidates.
Jayne Clare Boardman - Labour
Noel Matthews - UK Independence Party
Liz Oades - Independent
Steve Rigby - Conservative
Julie Ann Brickles - Independent
Robert Michael George Fielding - Liberal Democrats
Steven Michael McGuinness - Labour
Paul Rigby - Conservative
Guy Charles Cooper - Labour
Beverley Susan Harrison - Liberal Democrats
Paul Joseph Hayhurst - Independent
Sandra Pitman - Conservative
Brook Wimbury - UK Independence Party
Tim Maxwell Ashton - Conservative
Joshua Kelly - Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
Roger Henry Lloyd - Fylde Ratepayers Association
Christine Marshall - Liberal Democrats
Gareth Stuart Nash - Labour
Duncan John Royle - Green Party
Tim Wood - UK Independence Party
St Annes North
Peter Ian Buckley - Conservative
Karen Maureen Henshaw - Liberal Democrats
Peter James Stephenson - Labour
Christine Tootill - Green Party
St Annes South
Andrew Peter Holland - Liberal Democrats
Ruth Hurley - Labour
Edward John Nash - Conservative
Ian Stanley Roberts - Green Party
Rob Fail - Labour
Andrea Dawn Kay - Conservative
Cleveleys South & Carleton
Joanne Cooper - Labour
Barbara Ann Mead-Mason - Green Party
Alan Thomas Vincent - Conservative
Lorraine Beavers - Labour
Michael John Pickton - Green Party
David Charles Shaw - Conservative
Ray Smith - Independent
Fleetwood West & Cleveleys West
Lynn Cawley - Green Party
Stephen Thomas Clarke - Conservative
Ruth Duffy - Labour
Jack Harrison - Independent
Roy Graham Hopwood - UK
Alf Clempson - Conservative
Roddy Hanson - Green Party
Michelle Heaton-Bentley - Labour
Thornton & Hambleton
Andy Meredith - Labour
John Samuel Clarke Shedwick - Conservative
Wyre Rural Central
Ruth Norbury - Green Party
Vivien Margaret Taylor - Conservative
Janet Williams - Labour
Wyre Rural East
Joe Gilmour - Green Party
Simon Noble - UK Independence Party
Sandra Denise Perkins - Independent
Ross George Thomas Sykes - Labour
Shaun Gerard Turner - Conservative