In the last of our series looking at the local political campaigns in South West Holderness, we look at the Conservatives.
IF politics was a sport then locally the Conservatives deserve to win in South West Holderness! Why? Because of the simple fact that they have been ‘in the game’ longer. Graham Stuart (Conservative candidate for Beverley & Holderness) made a valid point at the Hedon Hustings on Thursday when he declared that “We’ve been working hard over the last five years and you’ve seen us out and about – you just don’t see us once every five years at election time!” And he’s got a point!
While both Labour and UKIP started their campaigns early (late summer/early autumn last year) that still just doesn’t compare with the five years of street surgeries and campaigns that the Conservatives have waged over that period.
As sitting councillors John Dennis and Mike Bryan have both regularly attended meetings of the parish councils in Paull, Preston and Thorngumbald and so regularly picked up and responded to local issues across the ward. Regardless of politics, they’ve done the legwork, they’ve put the time in – which probably makes them the favourites to win this election and new Conservative face Dr Sue Steel a retired NHS clinical scientist looks set to benefit from this too.
But politics is not sport and despite being batting for a long time, the Conservatives do now have to defend their wickets against all manner of Labour, UKIP and Independent bowling. One slip of the defence and it could be ‘Howzzaaaat!’.
And ‘defence’ is the major feature of the Conservative campaign. Defence of open green spaces, defence of boundaries, defence against urban and industrial sprawl – and crucially for them, defence against what they see as the predatory aims of Labour controlled Hull City Council.
The referendum on the prospect of Hull’s boundaries being expanded and on whether Hull should be allowed to develop land it owns in the East Riding, put our local sitting councillors in the regional spotlight, particularly John Dennis who was seen as the driving force behind that campaign (with one pundit even tipping that he was possibly a future Tory leader on the East Riding Council).
John Dennis said at the time: “Not only did we attract a massive 96% ‘No-No’ Vote, but to me, an even more impressive 75% turnout of registered electors. That was an unprecedented response, way beyond even my expectations. Over 50,000 East Riding people can’t all be wrong!”
The referendum was supposed to be non-political but with nearly £60,000 spent by the Conservative-controlled East Riding on the referendum and the active and visible “It’s A No No!” campaign led by Conservatives – then credit for the campaign is being taken by the South West Holderness Conservative team. The Boundary Referendum was largely ignored by both Labour and UKIP who didn’t see the point, just the expenditure.
Credit is also duly taken by the Conservatives for the victorious HOTI campaign against the proposed incinerator at Saltend – incidentally the local Conservatives were willing to oppose even their own colleagues in the Conservative leadership on this issue. This ‘independent’ streak does shine through occasionally; John Dennis was the lone voice on the Hedon Town Council to back the building of the Magdalen Park Nursing Home. Councillor Ann Suggit and John Dennis’ colleague Mike Bryan didn’t support the development because of the fears of potential flood risk and the extra strain it would put on the town’s infrastructure. The Nursing Home was built and has been recognised for the quality of its healthcare design, and it has also created dozens of new jobs. What this episode reveals is that the local Conservatives are not immune to local opinion or indeed slaves to a party line.
John Dennis, Mike Bryan and Sue Steel have each lived in the town for decades and have a significant personal vote. They will need to ensure that both personal and party support is mobilised on Thursday in the face of a very real threat of one or more of the three seats being lost to other candidates.
Whilst perhaps the favourites, nothing can be taken for granted in this election and for all the candidates the job is not only to inspire people to vote on Thursday 7th May – but to make sure that people physically get out and vote!
The Hedon Blog thanks each candidate for participating in this contest and keeping our democracy alive. And also thanks for lending some of your valuable campaigning time towards keeping our readers (and your voters) informed.
I feel privileged to know or have spoken to all the candidates personally. May you have the best of campaigns on Thursday – Ray Duffill
There are eight candidates standing in the election for the three seats from South West Holderness Ward on East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
|Candidates (√ = have sent statement)|
|BLACK, Neil √
|BRYAN, Mike √
|DENNIS, John √
|GALLANT, Steve √
|ROMMELL, Sarah √
|STEEL, Sue √
|STOCKDALE, Brian √
|WEST, Terry √
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