The Conservatives’ national manifesto made a pledge to halt incomplete local government re-organisation. Nowhere was this more cheered than here in Norfolk, where Labour were determined to push through a unitary authority despite warnings from two former Secretaries of State, the independent Boundary Commission and the House of Lords Merit Committee. Conservatives across Norfolk, and here in Norwich, opposed the unitary move and were thrilled to see it in the manifesto as a pledge to overturn a decision that ‘made a mockery of the consultation process’ and did a great disservice to the people of Norwich and Norfolk.
What we were not expecting, however, was the decision of the High Court to overturn the unitary plans before parliament could and in the process force by-elections in both Norwich and Exeter.
It is vital the Conservatives do well in these by-elections because they will be the biggest electoral test of the coalition so far. The support of Conservative mutual aid could prove vital to our success here in Norwich.
Norwich City Council makes the news quite frequently – but rarely for the right reasons. At one time it was for "funny" things like banning conkers and bouncy castles, but more recently the "homes-for-staff" scandal, lack of financial control and having a zero-star housing service are much more serious concerns for local people.
Despite this, no other party seems willing to stand up for residents in Norwich. The Greens and Liberal Democrats abstained on Labour's tax-raising budget with only the Conservatives opposing it and proposing a council tax freeze with no effect on front-line services. At the recent AGM the Liberal Democrats and Greens sat on their hands when it came to vote on who should run the council for the next year, leaving only the Conservatives to oppose Labour (again). We need more Conservatives at City Hall to provide real opposition to the Labour administration that has forgotten the needs of local people.
What's up for grabs?
There are 13 seats in all - four of them fall in the Norwich North parliamentary seat, where Chloe Smith won an amazing victory in the by-election last year. All four of these seats are currently Labour held at a city level but the Conservatives have hopes to take all of them. In Catton Grove we already hold the other two city seats and our candidate, Charlotte Casimir, is also the County Councillor for the division. In Crome we were just 99 votes behind in 2009 and have high hopes this year.
The other nine seats make up the lions’ share of the Norwich South parliamentary seat, until recently held by the former Home Secretary Charles Clarke. In Bowthorpe, we hope to return our former Group Leader and PPC Antony Little to the Council and are defending a majority of 139 votes against Labour. In Eaton the race against the Liberal Democrats is more interesting, where the long serving Liberal Democrat Councillor has decided to stand down. The Conservatives have a well known and popular local businessman, Tak-Man Li, as our candidate. Tak-Man lives in the ward with his young family and would be an outstanding Councillor. We are also pushing hard in Town Close Ward for Eileen Wyatt and also Thorpe Hamlet Ward for Hannah Feiner – both against Green Party opposition.
Norwich is an NOC council and looks likely to stay that way, albeit with a potential change in administration. Before the by-elections, Labour have 9 seats; the Greens 9 seats; Conservatives 4 and Liberal Democrats 4. The help of Conservatives like you could help us to tip the balance in our favour.
If you can help, please contact Antony Little on 07870621151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – every phone call made, door knocked-on, leaflet delivered or pound donated will go a long way to providing strong voices to stand up for our communities.
Bowthorpe – Con seat – candidate Antony Little re-standing
Catton Grove – Lab seat – former Lab Councillor standing down – candidate Charlotte Casimir
Crome – Lab seat – candidate Chris Baxter
Eaton – LD seat – former LD Councillor standing down – candidate Tak-Man Li
Lakenham – Lab seat – former Lab Councillor standing down – candidate Chris Benjamin
Mancroft – Green seat – former Green Councillor standing down – candidate Suzie Pulford
Mile Cross – Lab seat- former Labour Councillor standing down – candidate Oscar Pinnington
Nelson – Green seat – candidate Stefan Rose
Sewell – Lab seat – candidate Dave Mackie
Thorpe Hamlet – LD seat – former LD Councillor standing down – candidate Hannah Feiner
Town Close – Green seat – former Green Councillor standing down – candidate Eileen Wyatt
University – Lab seat – candidate Nicholas Hindley
Wensum – Green seat – former Green Councillor standing down – candidate Stephen Karanicholas