The MPs expenses row could well help independent candidates standing today including Stuart Drummond, the directly elected Mayor of Hartlepool who first stood in 2002 wearing a monkey suit to publicise his football team. He is one of eight independent candidates standing for Mayor of Hartlepool in today's election which complicates predictions. Critics believe that Drummond is a socialist in monkey clothing – the Band D Council Tax is a whopping £1,629. Despite this his promise of free bananas for school children proved, er, fruitless.
The Conservative candidate Cllr David Young (pictured) tells me he is in with a chance although Drummond is the favourite. Young, who owns a fish and chip shop and is campaiging to "chip away at costs more optimistic about beating Labour to second place.
"I have had a very good reception wherever I have gone from standing outside Tesco to a meeting at Hartlepool Cricket Club," he says. "The Council Tax is too high because of all the non jobs. An Obesity Manager, a Ramps Manager, all these jobs that shouldn't have a special post. We used to have four managers for our parks now we have 20 – although the number of park keepers they have to manage has gone down. There are also all these empty properties."
Good luck to Cllr Young.