Five things in the East to look out for ahead of the May elections
Braintree’s trial of voter ID
This year Braintree Council will be taking part in a trial scheme which requires voters to prove who they are at polling stations. If residents fail to present photo ID or two pieces of non-photo, they will not able to vote. Officers are hoping that the new pilot scheme will encourage a higher turnout figures, however, sceptics say that it will deter people from voting.
Who is the new leader in East Cambs? Will the Lib Dems cause another stir in Cambridgeshire?
Assuming the Conservatives can retain control of East Cambs, their attention will quickly turn to putting forward a successor for the outgoing Council Leader, Cllr Charles Roberts. Cllr Roberts remains tight-lipped as to who his replacement might be, however current Deputy Leader and ward member for Downham ward Anna Bailey is expected to be a front runner for the leading role. Another lingering question is will the Liberal Democrats shock us with another South Cambs-like result?
Thurrock will the Conservatives be able to hold on to the power
When the elections take place on May 2, a total of 17 councillors will be elected, potentially tipping the balance of who controls the council. For the past three years it has been under the control of the Conservative Party, which has a minority administration made up of 23 elected councillors. The largest opposition party is Labour which has 17 elected councillors, followed by the Thurrock Independents with nine. For the Conservatives to gain a majority in next month’s elections they will need to grab another two seats, giving them more than half of the 49 seats available. However, Labour could also take control with a majority administration if they are able to gain another eight seats.
Colchester will the Conservatives seize power
The Colchester Conservatives, who gained two seats in May 2016 elections, now hold 25 seats which is one short of an overall majority. This opens the result to range of possible outcomes leaving spectators in suspense. There could be virtually no change, which would no doubt see the existing coalition continue. However, there is another credible scenario that would see Labour winning a seat from the Liberal Democrats and becoming the second largest party on the council, and subsequently head of a newly structured coalition. Alternatively, the Conservatives could win control of the Council for the first time in over a decade. Nonetheless, the shape of the new administration at the borough will only be instantly clear if the Conservatives succeed in gaining seats from other parties.
Basildon will Labour make the gains they need to form administration
Another area to be on the lookout for is Basildon where the Conservatives are holding onto power by a thread. The party secured 23 of 42 seats available on the Council in 2018. Some 14 of the borough’s 16 wards up for grabs on May 2. Any potential Labour gains could threaten the Conservatives short reign of control with opposition parties looking to form a coalition to take control of the Council.
Xyrah Wheatley - Account Executive