BASILDON LOCAL ELECTIONS 2018
It’s that time of the year again and local elections are upon us. We have fifteen seats on Basildon Borough Council up for grabs to determine who will take charge of the Council, which has been in No Overall Control since 2014. The Council is presently led by a coalition of Labour, UKIP and Independents with the Conservatives as the Opposition. The Tories are hoping to take the Council and regain administration. There are 42 seats on Basildon Council, of which there are currently 18 Conservatives, 10 UKIP, 9 Labour, 2 Independence from EU, 2 Wickford Independents and 1 vacancy arising from the resignation, last month, of Amanda Arnold (Con, Pitsea South-East). The magic number here is 22 – this is the number of seats a party needs to command a majority on the Council. So, for the Tories, we will need to retain all our current seats and win four more to be able to form a majority administration. Here are the runners and riders locally:
- McCAFFERY, Susan (UKIP)
- SCANLAN, Thomas (Labour)
- SCHRADER, Andrew (Conservative)*
Yours truly (pictured) is seeking re-election in Billericay East. I am currently the Opposition Spokesman for Regeneration and Environment and have served on the Planning Committee for the past four years. Mr Scanlan is a first-time candidate and replaces Patricia Reid – wife of long-serving Labour election agent Malcolm Reid – who had been the perennial Labour candidate here since time immemorial but who is now a county councillor for Pitsea and, for some reason, standing Wickford Park. This year also sees the return of Miss McCaffery, a former UKIP councillor on Billericay Town Council. She retired from the Town Council a couple of years ago, so I suspect she is being fielded as a paper candidate. I was re-elected to Basildon Council in 2014 with 51% of the vote and a majority of 737, which I shall be hoping to improve.
- GIBBS, Philip (UKIP)
- HEDLEY, Anthony (Conservative)*
- REID, Malcolm (Labour)
My mate Tony Hedley (pictured) is seeking re-election in Billericay West. Tony is a serving county councillor for the Billericay and Burstead Division and has held the borough seat as well since 2001. He is a former Cabinet member on Basildon Council and chaired the Essex Fire Authority for many years. He is currently the Opposition Spokesman on Housing and Community. Dr Gibbs is an extremely eccentric choice to stand for UKIP in Billericay West and, I must admit, it’s had me scratching my head. Dr Gibbs is a well-known Langdon Hills resident and campaigner against Dunton Garden Suburb, who came within a whisker of unseating the sitting Tory councillor in Langdon Hills at the last borough elections in 2016. With the announcement that UKIP Leader Linda Allport-Hodge is not seeking re-election there, one would have thought Dr Gibbs would be the obvious choice to succeed her. Quite what has possessed him to pitch up in Billericay West against a popular, long-serving incumbent, considering his leader was instrumental in passing a deeply unpopular Local Plan, is anyone’s guess. Mr Reid, as mentioned before, is the Labour election agent, who tends to pop up all over the place during elections as a paper candidate for seats Labour do not expect to win. Tony is defending a majority of 1,044 (58% share of the vote in 2014).
- BAGGOTT, Andrew (Conservative)*
- BENNETT, Santa (Labour)
- HOUGHTON, David (UKIP)
Andy Baggott (pictured) is seeking re-election in Burstead, having won the seat in 2014. He currently serves on the Infrastructure, Growth and Development Committee and was a prominent critic of Linda Allport-Hodge and her chairmanship and of the Draft Local Plan. Mrs Bennett is the wife of sitting Labour councillor for Lee Chapel North, Alan Bennett, and is another perennial Labour paper candidate. Mr Houghton is a first-time candidate for UKIP. Andy is defending a majority of 866 (55% of the vote in 2014).
- MUYLDERS, Sally (Labour)
- PIPER, Kevin (UKIP)
- SARGENT, Terri (Conservative)*
Terri Sargent (pictured) is seeking re-election in Crouch. She has been the local councillor since 2002 and is a former Cabinet member. Terri currently serves on the Audit and Risk Committee and the Regeneration and Environment Committee. Mrs Muylders is standing in Crouch again for Labour, having done so in 2016. Mr Piper previously stood for UKIP in Burstead. Terri is defending a majority of 120 (47%). That was in 2014, the year UKIP swept everything outside of Billericay. In 2016, her ward colleague, Stuart Allen, held his seat with a majority of 479 (54%) and my prediction is, if UKIP couldn’t oust Terri in 2014, they certainly aren’t going to do it now; not when UKIP’s vote is collapsing, and they just forced through a massively unpopular Local Plan.
- ALLEN, Christopher (Conservative)
- KIRKMAN, David (Labour)
- SHEPPARD, David (UKIP)*
UKIP’s David Sheppard is defending this traditionally staunch Labour seat in Basildon New Town. He currently serves on the Housing and Community Committee and the Licensing Committee and has been Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee under his Labour ward colleague, Adele Brown, since UKIP joined in a coalition with the Labour Group. I doubt this will save him, however, and Labour are pitting against him Basildon’s very own ‘Red Prince’, David Kirkman, son of former Labour council leader Paul Kirkman. Kirkman Jr is a former councillor for Fryerns and this will be a seat worth watching. My little birds tell me that a promising Blairite was being groomed for this seat by Basildon Labour Leader and self-styled ‘de facto Leader of the Council’, Gavin Callaghan, but Momentum have infiltrated the Basildon Labour Party and installed Mr Kirkman, who was forced out in 2011 (in favour of Mrs Brown). At the time, Labour blamed his “poor” public speaking and casework but Mr Kirkman alleged he was forced because of his mental health problems and even prevailed upon prominent mental health advocate Alistair Campbell for support. In recent years, Mr Kirkman has only been permitted to stand as a paper candidate in Burstead. His appearance now as a candidate in an eminently winnable seat like Fryerns can only signal a weakening of Chairman Gav’s control of his local CLP. Our candidate, Chris Allen (pictured), will be seeking to throw a spanner in the works either way.
Councillor Sheppard won the seat in 2014, ousting Labour stalwart, the late Bill Archibald, in the year UKIP swept everything outside of Billericay. He is defending a majority of 216 (43%) but, in 2016, Councillor Brown retained her seat with a majority of 212 against UKIP’s Rhyan Waine and her Labour ward colleague, Allan Davies, also held the seat in 2015. So it doesn’t look good for Councillor Sheppard.
- CONROY, Mark (UKIP)
- HENRY, Jeff (Conservative)
- ZWENGUNDE, Clarence (Labour)
UKIP’s Mark Ellis took this seat in 2014, when he unseated Tory incumbent John Dornan, and was at one time Deputy Leader of the UKIP Group, but Mr Ellis has chosen not to seek re-election, having moved out of the borough and, apparently, had a major bust-up with his erstwhile party colleagues. First-time candidate Mr Conroy will be seeking to retain the seat for UKIP and defend their 237-vote majority, having previously been the unsuccessful UKIP candidate in Wickford Crouch at the Essex County Council elections last year. Laindon Park is very much a ‘marginal seat’, having returned Tory Andy Barnes in 2015 (General Election year), reverted to UKIP when it elected Hazel Green in 2016 and, in a by-election for the county seat later that year (to replace the late Bill Archibald), rejected Labour’s Gavin Callaghan in favour of UKIP’s Frank Ferguson. But, at last year’s county elections, Councillor Ferguson lost the county seat and the two-member division (which includes Fryerns ward) returned Jeff Henry (pictured) for one seat and Labour’s Allan Davies for the other, with Jeff coming top of the poll (42 votes ahead of Councillor Davies). Jeff will be hoping to repeat that success in the borough seat. Meanwhile, Labour’s candidate, Mr Zwengunde, is something of an enigma. Having stood in 2016 as an ‘Independent’ in Lee Chapel North, I gather on a platform of bringing a grammar school to Basildon, he has now taken the curious decision to stand for Labour; the only party in the borough that opposes grammar schools! Make of that what you will.
- CLANCY, Imelda (Independent)
- HARRISON, Alexander (Labour)
- SAGGERS, Norma (UKIP)
- WINGFIELD, Kevin (Conservative)
UKIP Group Leader and architect of the Local Plan, Linda Allport-Hodge, is not seeking re-election in Langdon Hills, in what must be the political equivalent of a ‘mic-drop’. She won the seat from Tory Sandra Hillier in 2014, with a majority of just 75 votes. I must say, as satisfying as it would have been to see her lose the seat, it is good to know that, whatever happens, she is gone. She has been a nightmare on the Council, is frankly a foul-mouthed odious woman, and I for one will never forgive her for the pig’s breakfast she has made of the Local Plan, which even she concedes will “ruin the town”. Good riddance. What remains to be seen is what will now happen in Langdon Hills. I think the first thing to acknowledge is that this ward, which was a previously safe Tory seat, has now become extremely marginal and the Conservative Party need to recognise that and listen to the concerns of Langdon Hills residents. Stephen Hillier held the seat for the Conservatives in 2016 by just two votes! As the Conservative candidate, Kevin Wingfield (pictured) is a young, independent-minded guy, who feels passionately about his local community. He has lived in Langdon Hills almost his entire life and is committed to reconnecting with Langdon Hills residents and rebuilding that bond of trust between them and the Conservatives.
I have already mentioned earlier that UKIP have, curiously, decided not to stand previous candidate Philip Gibbs here, instead putting him up in Billericay West. The UKIP candidate in Langdon Hills will be Laindon resident Miss Saggers. Local ‘Kippers are calling her a ‘long-standing local campaigner’ but, in eight years of being active in local politics (and for much of that time I lived in Langdon Hills), I have never heard of her. I think if you listen carefully, you can hear the bottom of a barrel being scraped. Not sure what Dr Gibbs did to deserve being exiled to the outer-darkness of Billericay West but it must have been bad! Anyway, Mr Harrison is standing here again for Labour but it looks like the main contest is going to be between Kevin and Councillor Clancy.
Pitsea resident Councillor Clancy is none other than the mother of Nethermayne councillor Kerry Smith and currently a sitting councillor herself in Pitsea North-West, which she won as a ‘Kipper in 2014. Cllrs Clancy and Smith are now both ‘Independents’ following Kerry’s ignominious departure as Leader of the UKIP Group. Unfortunately, during the course of her four-year term in Pitsea, Councillor Clancy has – how can I say this politely? – not been a particularly ‘active’ councillor and she clearly doesn’t rate her chances of being re-elected there, so she is doing the chicken run to Langdon Hills, where she is obviously hoping to ride her son’s coat-tails back into office. As the county member for Westley Heights, which includes Langdon Hills, Councillor Smith has an impressive following in the area and won re-election to the county seat last year with an incredible 61% share of the vote. In fairness to him, Kerry does put on a pretty good show of looking busy and seeming to get things done (looks, of course, can be deceiving). His mother, alas, does not and her outburst at the Local Plan meeting, advising her son to “just ignore” residents hardly bodes well. But clearly Kerry is hoping to go into the ‘franchising’ business and reckons he can get his mum back in on his endorsement alone. Fair play to him, it’ll be most impressive if he does! But the residents of Langdon Hills will be short-changed with a councillor who is already the county member and a borough member for another ward effectively covering for his mother. I think Langdon Hills deserves a councillor dedicated to them and them alone and I hope they will support Kevin Wingfield.
LEE CHAPEL NORTH
- FERGUSON, Frank (UKIP)*
- McDONALD, Elaine (Labour)
- WARNER, Spencer (Conservative)
UKIP’s Frank Ferguson is, like his colleague David Sheppard, defending a traditionally safe Labour Basildon New Town seat. He has been a leading member of the Labour/UKIP coalition, serving as a Vice-Chairman of two committees; Licensing and Regeneration & Environment. He won the seat in 2014 with a majority of 61 over his Labour predecessor, Alan Bennett, but in 2015 Councillor Bennett regained the seat and in 2016 Labour won it again with a majority of 189, so I think we are likely to have seen the last of Councillor Ferguson’s garish jackets, lurid shirts and vivid ties. Curiously, for such an eminently winnable Labour seat, I have never heard of the Labour candidate, Miss McDonald, but a cursory perusal of her Facebook page reveals her to be a particularly virulent Corbynite (with a strange obsession with Maureen Lipman!), suggesting another victory for Momentum against the Blairite Gavin Callaghan. The Conservatives have, in Spencer Warner (pictured), a fantastic, young, and enthusiastic candidate. Spencer is a first-time candidate and, at 23, is bursting with positivity and energy. He deserves to win, even though history suggests he probably won’t. But you never know.
- BREEDON, Simon (UKIP)
- SANDHU, Sandeep (Conservative)
- SMITH, Kerry (Independent)*
- WALLACE, Naomi (Labour)
Kerry Smith is the incumbent Independent councillor who now effectively rules over this previously staunch Lib Dem fortress like an unassailable potentate. I call him ‘St Kerry of the Blessed Rock Salt’ because he performed a miracle – he took two tonnes of rock salt and turned every grain into a vote for him and his constituents seem to think he can walk on water. Kerry has replaced his predecessor, Geoff Williams, Lib Dem Councillor for Nethermayne for over thirty years, in more way than one. He hasn’t just succeeded him to the seat; like dear old ‘Uncle Geoff’, he has also turned it into his personal fiefdom. If I sound bitchy, I don’t mean to be. I am genuinely in awe of him. Kerry was elected in 2014 with a stonking 640-vote majority (43%) of the vote, beating Geoff’s son, Ben Williams, who had previously been a Nethermayne councillor himself. Kerry had worked the ward like a Trojan and, following his election, became the UKIP Group Leader on Basildon Council, until his fall from grace later in the year. Since then, he has sat as an Independent and has made the seat his own. Although written off by many (including yours truly), who couldn’t believe he could win re-election as an Independent, he was re-elected to the county seat last year with a massive majority of 2,012 (61%) over the poor drongo we stood against him. But he sold his soul (and his vote) to Labour and UKIP to help them form the coalition now running Basildon Council. Councillor Smith fifty pieces of silver came in the form of the Chairmanship of the Housing and Community Committee. He sits with his mother, Cllr Imelda Clancy (Ind, Pitsea North-West), as the ‘Independence from the EU Group’, which also entitles him to a stipend as a ‘group leader’.
In 2015 and 2016, Nethermayne went to UKIP but I have little doubt that Kerry will see off Mr Breedon (who was an unsuccessful UKIP candidate for the Pitsea county seat last year). Labour are fielding Miss Wallace, whom I’ve never heard of and she’s clearly such a dynamic character that in the latest Labour leaflet, they cut her out. Our candidate, Sandeep Sandhu (pictured), is another first-time candidate seeking to replenish the Tory ranks. I wish him the best of luck and know from bitter recent personal experience that he will need it.
- ADESHILE, Yetunde (Conservative)
- FERGUSON, Jack (Labour)
- HANNON, Loren (UKIP)
- HARVEY, Steve (DVP)
As mentioned earlier, the incumbent Independent councillor, Imelda Clancy, is doing the chicken run to Langdon Hills. She was elected as a ‘Kipper in 2014, with a majority of 250, but has sat for most of her term as part of the ‘Independence from the EU Group’, led by her son, Cllr Kerry Smith (Ind, Nethermayne). I’m afraid I don’t know anything about the UKIP candidate, Miss Hannon, but Jack Ferguson was the Labour candidate for Westley Heights in the county elections last year and previously stood as a paper candidate in Billericay West. Mr Harvey is representing our newest political party, the rather eccentric ‘Democrats and Veterans Party’, which is led by an ex-‘Kipper who once accused a “homosexual donkey” of trying to rape his horse. Our candidate is Yetunde Adeshile (pictured), a local community activist, who would lend a strong voice to Pitsea in the council chamber. UKIP won the seat again in 2015 but, in 2016, Labour’s Gavin Callaghan won re-election with a majority of 235. The ward has previously been held by the Tories, so I guess we shall have to see if the UKIP vote continues to collapse and, if so, where that vote goes.
PITSEA SOUTH-EAST (x2)
- ADENIRAN, Olukayode (Labour)
- ANSELL, Andrew (Labour)
- EACERSALL, John (DVP)
- MACKENZIE, Luke (Conservative)
- MORRIS, Richard (UKIP)
- RICHES, Lorna (UKIP)
- RIMMER, Craig (Conservative)
There are two vacancies this year in Pitsea South-East. UKIP former Deputy Mayor, Stephen Ward, has decided not to seek re-election (indeed, he attended the launch of the Democrats and Veterans Party, so it is unclear if he is even still a supporter of UKIP). But, having suffered a stroke during his term, his retirement is not unexpected. He won the seat in 2014, beating Tory incumbent David Abrahall, with a majority of 95. The second vacancy arises in consequence of the sad resignation of Amanda Arnold, who held the seat for the Conservatives in 2015 with a majority of 204, following the retirement of former Mayor Mo Larkin. Since Amanda’s election, the seat was won by UKIP again in 2016 and on that occasion the Tories came third. At the county elections last year, the Pitsea Division (which includes both Pitsea North-West and South-East) elected two councillors. One seat was won by Tory Stephen Hillier and the other by Labour’s Pat Reid. So, there is everything to play for in this seat. Mr Adeniran is contesting the seat for Labour a second time, while Mr Ansell previously stood as a paper candidate in Billericay West. Richard Morris and Lorna Riches (about whom I know nothing) are standing for UKIP and Mr Eacersall is the DVP offering. DVP are only fielding one candidate, presumably because they did not have time to recruit a second one to stand in the by-election. Our candidates are former councillor Luke Mackenzie (pictured above), who represented Vange from 2008 to 2012, and Craig Rimmer (pictured right), both highly experienced political operatives, who would make excellent and hard-working councillors for Pitsea South-East.
- BALL, Alan (Wickford Independent)*
- BUCKLEY, Malcolm (Conservative)
- CATLING, Louise (Labour)
Alan Ball is the incumbent Wickford Independent councillor, who was originally elected as UKIP, having previously failed several times to get elected as an independent on an anti-development ‘Wickford Action Group’ ticket. In 2014, he won a majority of 209 (49%) over Tory Malcolm Buckley (pictured) but, along with the other three Wickford ‘Kippers elected in 2014, broke away from the rest of the UKIP Group in 2015 to form ‘Wickford UKIP’, only to then be expelled by UKIP nationally and form the so-called ‘Wickford Independents’. Since the formation of the coalition governing Basildon Council last year, Councillor Ball has served as Chairman of the Regeneration and Environment Committee. Unfortunately for Councillor Ball, Buckley is back! Throughout the past four years since Malcolm lost his seat, he has continued to serve the residents of Wickford in his capacity as County Councillor for the Wickford Crouch Division, to which he was re-elected last year. Malcolm, a former Leader of Basildon Council, is now ready to come back onto the borough council and is seeking to oust Councillor Ball. Miss Catling, who was Labour’s candidate in Wickford Crouch last year, is standing for Labour again here in Wickford Castledon.
- BROCKMAN, Eunice (Wickford Independent)
- HOLLIMAN, Peter (Conservative)*
Peter Holliman (pictured) is seeking re-election in Wickford North. Peter has been on something of a political odyssey, having been one of the three Wickford ‘Kippers elected in 2014 with a majority of 130 (45%) and unseating the then Conservative Leader and Leader of the Council, Tony Ball, in what was one of the most dramatic upsets of the night. Peter, however, unlike Alan Ball and David Harrison, the other two Wickford ‘Kippers, had never sought election before and was not connected to the Wickford Action Group. When the Wickford ‘Kippers broke away from the main UKIP Group, he briefly served as Leader, and then as Leader of the Wickford Independents, before being side-lined by David Harrison. Mayor Harrison calls the Wickford Independents ‘Free from Party Politics’, which of course means they are deeply and frenetically political. Eventually, tired of the antics of the ‘Windies’ (as they have become known), Peter crossed the floor to the Conservative Group and was warmly welcomed as someone genuinely free of partisan sentiment and not interested in the political scheming of Mayor Harrison.
Peter is defending a challenge from his erstwhile party colleagues, in the form of perennial ‘Windy’ (former ‘Kipper) candidate, Eunice Brockman. There has been much speculation as to why there is no Labour candidate in Wickford North – the only seat in which they are not fielding a candidate – with conspiracy theories abounding about possible deals to give the Windies a free run (but such a deal, if agreed, would surely have applied to Mayor Harrison’s seat in Wickford Park). I suspect the more likely reason is that they fluffed their nomination papers for one reason or another but submitted them too late to do anything about it. [I happen to have it on good authority that the other parties were all exceptionally late in submitting their paperwork.]
- HARRISON, David (Wickford Independents)*
- JEFFERY, George (Conservative)
- REID, Patricia (Labour)
His Worship the Mayor, David Harrison, is seeking re-election in Wickford Park. In addition to currently serving as Mayor under the Labour/UKIP coalition, he is also the Leader of the Wickford Independents. Mayor Harrison was originally a Labour councillor and a former Chairman of the old Basildon District Council – way back in the mists of time – and seems to have been a ideological nomad all his political life. Having fallen out with Labour, he has, by turns, been a Tory, a Liberal, a ‘Pensioner Concern Party’ candidate, an Independent, a ‘Wickford Action Group’ candidate, but he finally won a seat back in 2014 when he was elected as UKIP with a majority of 53 (45%) over Tory Don Morris. Throughout his four years on Basildon Council, however, Mayor Harrison has been a bit of a ‘renegade’, routinely defying the UKIP leadership under both Kerry Smith and Linda Allport-Hodge and, later in 2014, he and the other two Wickford ‘Kippers broke away to form ‘Wickford UKIP’ and, as previously stated, got thrown out of UKIP altogether and formed the Wickford Independents (or ‘Windies’).
Since then, Mayor Harrison has played a pretty formidable game of manipulation and horse-trading with the various parties. With the Council being in No Overall Control, ‘independents’ like him and that other ex-‘Kipper, Kerry Smith, have lost no opportunity to exploit the desire of other parties to leverage his vote. Finally, in exchange for a gold chain, he got into bed with Labour and UKIP. He is facing a challenge from our candidate, George Jeffery (pictured), who at just 21 is almost certainly the youngest candidate in the election and is full of new ideas and youthful vigour. Meanwhile, Labour have plucked Pat Reid – formerly a perennial paper candidate in Billericay East but elected to Essex County Council last year in the Pitsea Division – and plonked her in Wickford Park, for reasons best known to themselves. This one is a straight two-horse race between George and the Mayor.
The Conservative Party are the ONLY party fielding candidates in EVERY ward, all over the Borough.
For the first time to my knowledge, there are no Liberal Democrat candidates anywhere in the Borough. Their infrastructure in the Borough just seems to have completely disintegrated. Even Ben Williams is not standing in Nethermayne. The short-lived Green Party slate from 2016 has also failed to re-emerge, indicating that Phil Rackley too has given up his ambitions to return to the Council. (Just as well, as he would not have approved of the new £400K chamber at all!)
This may be the first year I can remember that we do not have a single councillor’s spouse standing. We have one son of a former councillor: David Kirkman, Labour candidate in Fryerns, is the son of Paul Kirkman, a former Labour Leader of the Council. Husband and wife team Malcolm and Pat Reid are both candidates.
We have three former councillors seeking to re-join the Council: Mr Kirkman (Lab, Fryerns) and Luke Mackenzie (Con, Pitsea South-East) and Malcolm Buckley (Con, Wickford Castledon).
We have approximately fourteen first-time candidates.
There are also four retiring councillors this year – Cllrs Linda Allport-Hodge (UKIP, Langdon Hills), Mark Ellis (UKIP, Laindon Park) and Stephen Ward (UKIP, Pitsea South-East) and of course Amanda Arnold (Con, Pitsea South-East), who has already resigned from the Council. All were from the 2014 intake, with the exception of Mrs Arnold, who was elected in 2015 and who would have been up for re-election next year in the normal course of events. It will now be the case that whichever of the two winners of the Pitsea South-East seats up this year has the least votes, they will have to fight re-election again next year when Mrs Arnold’s term would have been up.