30 East Cambs candidates compete for 8 Cambridgshire County council seats
- Credit: Archant
It may be tiredness, weariness or just a desire to do something else but four of the seven Conservative councillors from the class of 2017 are stepping down.
The roll call includes a formidable duo – that of Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt.
The former remains leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, and Cllr Hunt continues his time in office at the same council, but both decided their time at Shire Hall is over.
Matthew Shuter is also stepping back; his big-ticket job chairing the economy and environment committee will find a new occupant after May 6.
Lis Every is also another familiar figure to uproot – she has served the one term in office and, oddly, is listed as chairwoman of the county constitution and ethics committee but as chairman of the corporate parenting sub committee.
Not that she is concluding her political career, far from it, and currently chairs the district council.
Thirty candidates across East Cambridgeshire will compete for eight county council seats.
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The term of office for 60 of the 61 members of Cambridgeshire County Council is effectively over. Fresh elections will take place on May 6.
For one, of course, his time as a councillor, and that of a tenant of the council farms estate, ended abruptly and simultaneously some weeks earlier.
Roger Hickford resigned as deputy council leader and member for Sawston and Shelford on February 26.
It was ahead of a decision to be taken by his former council colleagues over whether to release a report of an investigation into his tenancy and interactions with the county farms team.
Tory Party chiefs, whilst confident of retaining control, have learned from past experience -including that of 2013 when UKIP delivered an extraordinary electoral blow – not to be complacent.
Including the deputy leader’s former seat, they have held 35 of the 61 council seats – with Lib Dems, Labour and independents the remaining 26.
Retention of that comfortable working majority is the goal.
No one knows for sure, however, what affect the Hickford inquiry – that has come to be known as farmgate – will have on the minds of voters when they make their choices.
East Cambridgeshire has been a solid success story for the party. It secured seven Conservative councillors for the eight divisions in 2017. Lib Dems took the other.
There are going to be some fascinating battles.
In Ely North, for example, the popularity of the Liberal Democrats has been gradually increasing over the last few elections.
The Lib Dems previously won the seat in 2009 – so could now be the time for change again?
Richard Hobbs, the former Ely mayor and district councillor is returning to the local political scene and running as the Tory candidate for this division.
Meanwhile, in Burwell, the Liberal Democrat’s Charlotte Cane (also a district councillor) and Labour’s Liz Swift, both chairs of their village parish councils, will be taking on Josh Schumann again for the second time.
He’s hoping to retain his seat for a third term at Cambridgeshire County Council, having been first elected in 2013.
The one seat that wasn’t under Tory control in 2017 was in the Sutton division where Liberal Democrat Lorna Dupre was re-elected.
She is standing again against controversial Conservative Jonathan Farmer and Labour’s Carlos Toranzos.
Across East Cambridgeshire, 30 candidates have put their names forward for the divisions. This is higher than in 2017 where there were 26.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have put forward nominations for all eight seats.
There has also been a wave of Green Party candidates who have nominations for six of the East Cambridgeshire seats.
This year, none of the eight divisions have any independents standing.
Polling day is May 6 and the results should be known by the afternoon/evening of the following day.
There is also a vote on the same day for the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and for the police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire.
(* denotes sitting councillor)
Charlotte Cane (Lib Dem)
Josh Schumann (Con)*
Liz Swift (Lab)
This will be the second county council election where Charlotte Cane and Liz Swift have taken on Josh Schumann for the Burwell division.
The trio first stood against one another in the 2017 elections; Charlotte and Liz also fought for the seat in 2013.
The Tories have been the long-standing party of the Burwell division.
Josh was first elected in 2013 for the former Soham and Fordham Villages division and went on to secure the Burwell seat in 2017 with 53.9 percent of the overall vote.
Charlotte, representing the Liberal Democrats, was next with 642 votes, and Labour’s Liz secured 381.
Burwell division covers the parishes of Burwell itself as well as Chippenham, Fordham, Kennett, Reach, Snailwell and Swaffham Prior.
Former freelance teacher Josh now lists his employment as a member of East Cambridgeshire District Council and is the district council's deputy leader.
Charlotte is deputy group leader of Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats and the chair of Reach Parish Council.
She has lived in the village for about 20 years and is also the chair of governors for her local primary school and an honorary director of Reach Community Solar Farm Ltd.
Charlotte says her priorities, if elected, would be to improve the quality of social care across the county, offer proper funding and support for schools and deliver reliable and affordable public transport for residents.
Liz Swift agrees better public transport is needed and would be her “top priority” for Cambridgeshire if she is elected.
Her page on the SE Cambs Labour website says: “The bus from Burwell, Reach and the Swaffhams takes ages to get to Cambridge or Newmarket.
“I worry for young people wanting to go to college. And I know that residents feel isolated with no evening, Sunday or Bank Holiday service.”
Liz has lived in Burwell for 10 years and is also chair of the parish council, chair of the management committee at Burwell Early Learners, a trustee of Burwell Action for Youth and a trustee at Burwell and District Day Centre.
Richard Hobbs (Con)
Richard Ingram (Green)
Louise Moschetta (Lab)
Alison Whelan (Lib Dem)
Ely North division has potential to be an exciting contest this election.
Alison Whelan is a City of Ely councillor and a member of East Cambridgeshire District Council.
In 2017, she gained 855 votes with the overall winner Lis Every from the Conservatives achieving 1,192.
She will be standing against Richard Hobbs, who is hoping to make a positive return to the local political scene in place of Lis.
Richard is well known, having been Mayor of the City of Ely four times, most recently between 20107-18, and a district councillor.
However, he lost both his city and district council seat in 2019.
Labour’s Louise Moschetta is also a familiar face. In 2019, she stood against Richard in the Ely East ward in the East Cambridgeshire District Council elections.
The Green Party has put forward Richard Ingram for Ely North this election. Richard is an IT professional who has lived in Prickwillow for 15 years.
He enjoys the Cambridgeshire countryside and hopes more can be done to make walking and cycling around the area safer. Better public transport is also on his priority list.
The division covers the parishes of north and east Ely, Chettisham and Prickwillow.
Gemma Bristow (Green)
Piers Coutts (Lib Dem)
Rebecca Denness (Lab)
John McFall (Con)
Anna Bailey has held the Cambridgeshire County Council seat for Ely South since 2013 – and she fought hard for it.
In 2009, she missed out to the Lib Dem’s Sue Austen and yet came back fighting four years later to win the seat for the Conservatives.
In 2017, Anna won the seat again with 46.1 per cent of the votes.
For this year’s county council election however, the Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, will not be standing for re-election. Instead, newcomer John McFall will be representing the Tories.
Labour’s Rebecca Denness is once again standing for the seat. This time around, she is also a City of Ely councillor, having been elected in 2019.
Rebecca moved to the city from Cambridge with her partner 16 years ago and says she wants the county council “to help deliver a more sustainable Ely”.
She is also passionate about education, and wants to see more investment for students with special educational needs and disabilities.
As the parish’s highways lead, Rebecca says it has helped her see how key decisions are made by the county council and that “we urgently need to tackle the climate crisis”.
Addressing “the climate emergency” is also a key area of focus in the Lib Dems manifesto for Cambridgeshire. Piers Coutts has been nominated as the party’s candidate for Ely South.
The Lib Dems also want to focus on the Covid recovery, improvements to transport and the provision for cycling and walking around Cambridgeshire as well as social care.
The Ely South division also includes Stuntney.
The Green Party has put forward Gemma Bristow, who fought the East Cambridgeshire District Council elections in 2019 for the Ely West Ward.
David Ambrose Smith (Con)*
Adam Cooley (Lab)
Lee Phillips (Green)
Paul Speed (Lib Dem)
David Ambrose Smith will be hoping for re-election, having won the seat four years ago with 57.2 per cent of the vote.
Born and educated in Littleport, David is also a parish councillor and represents Littleport on East Cambridgeshire District Council.
He is involved in a wide range of organisations in the village. For example, he was a trustee of Littleport Leisure before it was dissolved in March and a founding member of the Rotary Club of Littleport.
Paul Speed, Lib Dem, claims the village “has been getting the poor end of the deal under the current Conservative County Council".
“Not least with public transport,” he said.
While there may be a rail station, he feels this needs to be supported with a more reliable bus service connecting the village especially for those who are less mobile.
He feels improvements are also needed for road surfaces.
Labour’s Adam Cooley argues that safer streets are needed for walkers and cyclists, and has highlighted the environment, housing and improvements to residents’ safety as key issues that need to be addressed.
Lee Phillips, Green, has lived in Littleport for five years and has been involved in campaigns around the climate and ecological emergency.
His view is that changes can be made at the local level to make “communities happier and more sustainable”.
Soham North and Isleham
Mark Goldsack (Con)*
Mark Hucker (Lab)
Katy Prentice (Green)
Charles Warner (Lib Dem)
The Soham North and Isleham is a long-term Conservative division - and rival parties are bidding to topple the Tories’ dominance in this next election.
Conservative Mark Goldsack won the seat in a by-election held in 2018. He is also chairman of Soham Town Rangers.
In 2018 he secured 48.8 per cent of the vote - but it was still a drop in comparison to fellow Tory Paul Raynes who stood the previous year.
The 2017 Cambridgeshire County Council election was the first year of boundary changes and Soham and Fordham Villages was spilt into two separate divisions.
Paul secured 66.2 per cent of the vote but resigned his seat a year into his county council term to take on a £130,000 role at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
Labour’s Mark Hucker has worked in local government for over 10 years and says he is “passionate about good public service”.
He wants to reconnect villages “with a decent bus service” to reduce the need for cars and “bring transparency to the county council’s activities”.
Mark also says he plans to “get a grip” on This Land if elected. That’s the 100 per cent controversial housing company owned by the council.
He says This Land has “built just nine houses, none of them affordable” and he promises Labour will focus on building more reasonably priced homes.
Meanwhile, Charles Warner, the chairman of Soham Town Council, is the Lib Dem challenger.
In Cambridgeshire, the Lib Dems are also focusing on better public transport as well as action to address climate change, a Covid recovery plan and more support for health and social care.
The Green Party’s Katy Prentice has lived in the area for three years and her priorities include the environment and sustainability, education and rehabilitation as well as equality and inclusion.
She also volunteers for community initiatives including Ely Trash to Treasure, Ely Swishing and support for survivors of domestic abuse.
Soham South and Haddenham
Helen Barker (Lib Dem)
Lydia Hill (Lab)
Dan Schumann (Con)
Floramay Waterhouse (Green)
After 16 years as a councillor for Cambridgeshire County Council, Bill Hunt will not be standing for election in his division this year.
Instead, the long-time Conservative councillor will have fellow East Cambridgeshire District Council member Dan Schumann running for his seat.
Dan, whose employment is listed as a theatre producer for the Cambridge Arts Theatre Trust, was first elected as a district councillor in 2015 and represents the Soham South ward.
The county council’s division of Soham South and Haddenham covers Haddenham, Wilburton, Stretham, Thetford, Wicken and part of the Soham parish.
Historically, it’s another strong area for the Tories.
But Labour’s Lydia Hill is back, and has been nominated for the division again despite defeat in the 2017 election.
A resident of Haddenham for 31 years, she is keen for more people to become engaged with local issues and shift the power away from central government and “give local communities a real say”.
Climate change is an important issue to her, and she cites Labour-run Cambridge City Council’s progress is tackling environmental issues and its Climate Change Strategy as positive steps.
“I want a similar proper climate plan for Cambridgeshire county so we can test all projects against our green aims,” she says.
Helen Barker for the Lib Dems also says her party is also keen to address “the climate emergency”.
Improvements to transport links and reducing carbon emissions are among the suggestions outlined in its manifesto. The party also focuses on the Covid recovery.
For the Green Party, Floramay Waterhouse has been nominated again for the Cambridgeshire County Council elections.
In 2017, she was defeated in the Burwell division but this time around she is running for Soham South and Haddenham.
Lorna Dupré (Lib Dem)*
Jonathan Farmer (Con)
Carlos Toranzos (Lab)
Before it was all change for the political scene in Sutton, the same Conservative county councillor had held the seat there for 40 years.
In 2013, Lorna Dupré stood against the late Phil Read for the Liberal Democrats.
She may have been defeated first time around, but went on to win the seat with a massive majority when a by-election was called in 2016 following his death.
It seems voters were ready for a shake-up. Since then, the Liberal Democrats have dominated the Sutton area.
The division itself covers Coveney, Downham, Mepal, Sutton, Wentworth, Witcham and Witchford.
Lorna, who is also a councillor for East Cambridgeshire District Council and Deputy Leader of the Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat group, initially focused on reducing the number of heavy vehicles using small villages as cut throughs.
Five years on, she still feels strongly about this issue, and has highlighted transport, road maintenance and speeding as key areas for this election.
She says: “A Liberal Democrat-run County council will rebalance our transport system, making public transport, walking and cycling more realistic options for many more people.”
Flood prevention is another issue she wants to address.
The Tories have put forward Jonathan Farmer, the controversial former Wisbech Mayor and Fenland District Councillor for the division.
While he may live in a different part of Cambridgeshire, he argues the “telephones that take pictures”, the internet and Zoom exist.
If safe to do so, Jonathan says he will drive to Sutton and meet with residents to discuss issues in person.
His campaign leaflet says: “However, just as you would not vote for the village idiot just because they are local there is no reason to vote for a Lib Dem just because she is local.”
Jonathan has also accused Lorna of misrepresenting her involvement of getting a Tree Preservation Order secured in her most recent newsletter.
She apologised for the oversight, saying it was noticed when re-reading the update while the publication was being issued to the distributors.
Jonathan also acknowledges in his own leaflet that: “Much will also be made of the fact I have a past conviction for a firearms offence.”
In 2014, he managed to avoid a prison sentence after being found guilty of possessing a firearm which he claims a family friend handed to him 30 years ago.
The gun had been taken from a captured Nazi officer and Jonathan says it has now been placed in a museum.
Labour has chosen Carlos Toranzos to represent the party for the Sutton division.
Elaine Marshall (Green)
Steven O’Dell (Lab)
Charles Powell (Lib Dem)
Alan Sharp (Con)
Conservative Matthew Shuter has solidly held on to the Woodditton seat since 2005 – and Labour’s Steven O’Dell stood against him at every election.
In 2017, Matthew secured 67.4 per cent of the division’s vote with 1,676 votes.
He isn’t running for re-election this year, so East Cambridgeshire District Councillor Alan Sharp has been nominated for the Tories.
Hopefully Alan's Zoom etiquette has improved over the pandemic.
The accountant and school governor was under a spot of bother last year when he left his microphone on during a Zoom meeting – and was heard calling another councillor “thick”.
Alan also sits on committees for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
In response to a survey by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, he agreed safer routes and infrastructure is needed to encourage more cycling.
Alan also highlighted the need for better enforcement of offenders on the division’s roads.
In the same survey, Lib Dem Charles Powell also acknowledged the need for dedicated cycling facilities and described the public transport as “dire” in the division.
“Road surfaces are downright dangerous,” he added.
For Labour’s Steven O’Dell, this will be his fifth election battle for the Woodditton division.
He has lived in Bottisham for 24 years and has been a member of the parish council for 20. At the moment, he is the specialist councillor for public transport.
Both Alan and his wife have disabilities, and he works as a cleaner contracted to Cambridge City Council.
“We’re working every day to safeguard the public from Covid,” he said.
Alan added: “For years I have heard more of the same here. I believe we deserve a council that is genuinely committed to delivering what the community needs.”
The Green Party has put forward a candidate for Woodditton. Elaine Marshall lives in Kirtling and says she is passionate about nature and sustainability.
She studied agriculture and natural resource management before working internationally addressing a range of green issues.
The Wooditton division covers the parishes of: Ashley, Bottisham, Brinkley, Burrough Green, Cheveley, Dullingham, Kirtling, Lode, Stetchworth, Swaffham Bulbeck, Westley Waterless and Woodditton itself.