Not a single Liberal Democrat candidate will be standing at next month’s local elections in South Tyneside.
The Lib Dems’ no-show at the ballot box, the first in a generation, comes amid fears by one of its former representatives that its brand is now “toxic on the doorstep”.
Until just a few years ago, the party’s candidates at Parliamentary elections in the borough were the natural opposition to Labour.
In South Shields at the 2005 general election, Lib Dem Stephen Psallidas finished second to then-Labour MP David Miliband with almost 6,000 votes, 19.7 per cent of the total cast.
In local elections around the same time, the party, led by Nick Clegg since 2007, could usually guarantee a handful of seats, particularly in the Hebburn North ward.
At one time, it held all three seats for Hebburn North.
However, since the 2010 general election, the party’s fortunes have declined dramatically in the borough.
At the 2013 Parliamentary by-election in South Shields, its candidate, Hugh Annand, lost his deposit, receiving just 352 votes, just 1.4 per cent of the vote, and only narrowly avoiding the ignominy of being defeated by the Raving Monster Loony Party’s contender.
Now, not a single Lib Dem is to contest the local elections in South Tyneside on Thursday, May 7.
The party’s absence from the political scene in South Tyneside comes as no surprise to Joe Abbott, formerly a Lib Dem councillor for Hebburn North.
He said: “It’s something of a shame, but I’m not surprised no-one is standing from the party.
“The reality is that the Lib Dem brand is toxic on the doorstep.
“It all dates back to the party getting into bed with the Tories.”
Mr Abbott is standing as an independent in Hebburn North next month.
He was the Lib Dems’ last councillor in South Tyneside until he quit the party in disgust over its decision to form a coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives in 2010 and back his austerity measures.
He stood as an independent at 2012’s elections but lost out to Labour’s Mary Butler.
Meanwhile, the far-right British National Party (BNP) is not putting forward any candidates at May’s Local Elections either.
The party has targeted several ward seats in the borough over recent years, but it isn’t throwing its hat into the ring this time round.
At 2012’s local elections, it contested eight of the 18 South Tyneside Council ward seats up for grabs.
Source – Shields Gazette, 15 Apr 2015
A man who blew the whistle on poor care for the elderly at a South Shields nursing home is aiming to fly the flag for socialism at next month’s local elections.
Phil Brown is standing for the Independent Socialist Party in the town’s Horsley Hill ward on Thursday, May 22.
Born and raised on “The Hill”, the 59-year-old married father-of-two is the son of Cathy Brown, a former Labour mayor of South Tyneside.
In 2005, the NHS nurse of 37 years raised concerns at failings in care given to residents at the privately-owned Bamburgh Court Care Home in South Shields.
And last year he stood for MP in a Parliamentary by-election after the resignation of Labour’s David Miliband, finishing in fifth place with 776 votes.
Although he retains a warmth towards Labour, he has grown disillusioned with the party and is unconvinced its leader Ed Miliband can lead it to victory at next year’s General Election.
On a local level he will be campaigning on the need for extra traffic calming meaures, parking spaces and police and warden patrols in Horsley Hill.
In South Shields generally his concerns lie with the “collapse of commerce” in the retail centre of King Street and the town centre, but he remains supportive of the ‘South Shields 365’ masterplan to regenerate the area.
Mr Brown, of Leafield Crescent, South Shields, said he was hopeful he could make an impact next month.
“This is me going back to my roots. Ironically, it was my mother who helped make Horsley Hill a Labour stronghold by helping see-off the Progressives.
“Part of me will always be Labour but I honestly don’t think Ed Miliband has what it takes.
“I’m not afraid to use the word ‘socialism’. That’s what the Labour Party was built on.”
The other candidates standing in Horsley Hill are: Eileen Leask (Labour); Marilyn Huartt (Conservative) and Kelly Anne Loftus (UKIP).
Source – Shields Gazette 29 April 2014
A social landlord has made a cash-back guarantee to South Tyneside voters as he throws his hat into the ring at next month’s local elections.
Colin Campbell is to stand as an independent for Cleadon Park on Thursday, May 22.
And he is committed not to accept any of the monies he would receive from his role as a ward councillor.
Instead, he will donate the cash – about £1,000 a month – to Ridgeway Primary School, to be spent on equipment and school trips.
Mr Campbell, 61, who has a portfolio of 20 properties for rent across the borough, called on other prospective councillors to make the same commitment.
He said: “I want to get back to what being a councillor should be about – the desire to serve your community.
“I’d challenge other prospective councillors to make the same pledge. Any of the allowances I receive can be used by the school as it sees fit.”
Mr Campbell stood for UKIP at last year’s local elections, finishing a creditable third with 25 per cent of the vote in Cleadon and East Boldon, where he lives.
He said: “I have let my membership of UKIP lapse. If the party had 1,000 Nigel Farages I would have stayed onboard. Sadly, that’s not the case – although I do wish the party well in the forthcoming elections.
“I plan to knock on as many doors as I can. Labour has 49 of the 54 wards on the council, and it’s so important that there is a dissenting opposition in the council chamber. I hope to be that voice.”
Other candidates in the ward are June Elsom (Independent), Jim Foreman (Labour) and Barbara Surteees (Conservative).
Source – Shields Gazette 29 April 2014