THERE will be a three-cornered fight for the vacant seat on Warrington Borough Council caused by the death of former council leader Terry O’Neill at Burtonwood and Winwick.
Labour – who announced the name of their candidate as local businessman Alex Abbey last week – will be opposed by Paul Campbell, Conservative and Trevor Nicholls, standing as an Independent. who has previously stood in local elections for UKIP.
The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have both issued statements explaining they had decided not to field candidates because of the cost of holding a by-election only three months before the seat will be contested again at the all-out borough elections in May.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Bob Barr said: “As a matter of principle it is our policy to contest all borough council by-elections unless there are special circumstances. In this case we think there are special circumstances.
“There will be only three months to go before the all-out elections in May and we think calling this by-election now is un-necessary. It costs a lot of money to hold and there are so many ways that the money could be better spent for the residents of the town. However we do understand that once the by-election had been requested, the Labour Party had little option but to contest it as they previously held the seat.”
Deputy leader of Warrington and Halton Green Party Lyndsay McAteer said: “This is not an election which our group wishes to get involved in. We are strong advocates of local democracy, but we don’t think this is a sensible course of action due to an identical election taking place for this ward just three months later. I’m sure that Mr O’Neill would have rather this position was left vacant for three months under the circumstances.
“There are some fundamental issues for this part of Warrington at the moment and we are deeply concerned about the planned development at Parkside with its resulting loss of green belt and green space. The preservation and protection of Peel Hall and its possible inclusion in Warrington Borough Council’s local plan needs to be addressed. High levels of deprivation and social inequality are impacting on many of the area’s residents. These issues are ongoing.
“There is much work to be done for the new incumbent at the Town Hall, who it is presumed, will seek re-election for the post in May. Residents of Burtonwood and Winwick need a councillor who will work for the people, and not just the top table at Warrington Borough Council.
Meanwhile Conservative candidate Paul Campbell said:”I’m delighted to have been selected to stand in the by-election. As a former Warrington Borough Councillor, Parish Councillor and former holder of the Finance Portfolio at W.B.C. I will bring my experience to the table and work hard for the residents in Burtonwood and Winwick.
“The Peel Hall development which affects many of our residents has been going on for far too long and we need to bring it to a close in 2020 once and for all. We need Councillors who will scrutinise the Local Plan when it comes back in June and are prepared to protect the green belt searching for alternative sites for development where we can build affordable housing. We also need to ensure empty properties are turned around in the quickest possible time to a high standard for the most in need in our community.
“The Parkside Rail freight Interchange is a huge issue for the residents of Winwick and Hermitage Green and we must continue to fight this. Traffic congestion and the problems that it brings such as air pollution needs addressing throughout the ward”.