Sunday, 26 June 2011

Getting the Morpeth South blues...

Well - the Tories took the South ward from the LibDems in their first attempt at a Town Council seat after both parties put a huge amount of effort in, with three-four leaflets, a full canvas, County Councillors being wheeled out - and knocking up on polling day. More the sort of thing you'd expect in a marginal seat at a General Election than a byelection for a Town (parish) council. The Tories had nine people turn up at the (45 min) count. Since officially only one counting agent, candidates and candidates' partners were allowed to attend, you might infer that new Town Councillor Dave Herne is a bisexual bigamist [joke Dave! Don't set your legal advisors onto me!].
I didn't see much about what the Town Council actually is about in any of the other campaigns - but with the Tories' campaign mostly about car parking, the LibDems weren't helped when the LibDem County Council published their long-awaited car parking strategy a few days before polling day.
Ron did well - with a massive personal vote of 120 - but in the end, it was another case of people voting tactically against the blues or the yellows - and of the two - more people voted against the yellows.
I only hope now that we won't see County Council politicking being replayed in the Town Council, but with a two year campaign for the County elections [May 2013] now underway, I think we're in for a rough time on the Town Council.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A geography of voting

To save money, there'll just be one polling station - at Storey Park Community Centre - for the Town Council byelection on 23rd June. So - will people travel the mile or so from Allery Banks or Southgate Wood to vote? I know in South Africa and elsewhere, people walk 20 miles and more to vote, and queue for hours or days - but, despite heavy canvassing by the yellows and blues, I suspect Morpeth South voters won't be readily inclined to pop down to the polling station before or after work or squeeze it into their daily routine.
So - if voting intentions are linked to house type or neighbourhood character, as most parties assume - then the parties favoured by the neighbourhoods nearest Story Park - High Church, Deuchar Park (?) - might do better.
On the other hand - a lot of people will have, and use postal votes - but then, are certain parties favoured by people with postal votes? Perhaps it would have been better to make to by-election entirely postal?
But - in an election, with a likely turn-out of 20-30%, a couple of score of loyal party voters could swing it.
I hope Ron Forster has a big personal following! Vote for Ron on Thursday!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Vote for Ron!

Town Council by-election in South ward on 23rd June - and there's a lot of interest with red, yellow, blue and green candidates, with particularly intensive campaigning from the blues who have never shown the slightest interest in the Town Council before. And of course, we are all saying that party politics has no real place in parish councils. The Independents (Chamber of Trade) did select a candidate - but he had to withdraw due to health reasons.
The huge interest is that this is the first local election in Morpeth since 2008 with the next scheduled elections not due until 2013 - unless there are more byelections as existing Town Councillors - who are just starting the fifth year of a six year term - drop by the wayside.

And these are interesting times: Northumberland CC is keen to devolve services - and Morpeth Town Council, as the biggest spending parish council in the county, is expected to take a lead in forming a local 'parish cluster, but without overwhelming neighbouring parishes. NCC are also routinely consulting parish councils as the voice of their local communities, Morpeth is under huge pressure from housing developers, and within the next two years - we're going to have both the Northumberland LDF Core Strategy (with designation of the Morpeth Green Belt) and neighbourhood planning under the new Localism Bill.

So - we've put up Ron Forster, who is probably the best known of the candidates through his (Sun)day job, and has a good track record in understanding and expressing community views. And - I'd suggest that the Greens also have a good track record in challenging and contributing to Town Council work without descending into party political bickering.

So - lets see what the voters in South ward think...