May 28 2015 Latest news:
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Voters in Norwich will go to the polls on Thursday for the city council elections. Dan Grimmer looks at the fight in the wards of Town Close, University and Wensum.
People in University ward get to vote twice on Thursday, with two of the three seats up for grabs in that ward, following the resignation of Labour’s Sarah Grenville.
Labour’s Bert Bremner, the council’s cabinet member for housing, is defending one of the two seats, with journalist Roger Ryan entrusted with keeping the other one red.
Labour leader Brenda Arthur was more than 600 votes ahead of her nearest challenger – from the Green Party – at the last election in 2012.
Mr Bremner, in fighting to retain his county seat in University last year, got more than 700 votes more than his nearest Green challenger.
But the Greens have had the last laugh over Labour in Wensum ward in recent years. Labour’s Martin Peek, their candidate in the ward, lost to Green Elizabeth Morgan by 158 votes in the county council.
And, in 2012. when there were elections to two seats, the Greens retained both and left Labour trailing.
The Greens will also be looking to hold Town Close ward through Ash Haynes. She first won the ward when she was elected on her 20th birthday in 2011 and has just become a mum.
The current political make-up of the city council is Labour (20), Green Party (15) and Liberal Democrats (3), with the one vacancy in University ward. Polls are open on Thursday from 7am until 10pm. The count is the next day.
TOWN CLOSE CANDIDATES
Steffan AQUARONE (Liberal Democrat)
Steff is a filmmaker and technology entrepreneur who grew up in Blickling near Aylsham. He attended Norwich School before reading Politics and International Relations at the University of Warwick and says he is loving being back in Norwich after being away for 10 years working in Birmingham.
Steff’s local is the York Tavern and he’s been a firm Liberal supporter for more than 15 years - exactly half his life.
Interesting Fact: in 2009 Steff helped an entire village in Oxfordshire to make a feature length film. The movie, Tortoise in Love, premiered in London’s Leicester Square and has since been seen all over the World.
Barry COCHRANE (Conservative)
“I live locally in Town Close with my wife Laura. Working as a section manager in one of our city’s large department stores, I recognise the importance of business to our local economy.
“It’s right to support local businesses by cutting business rates and making car parks free after 5pm. This will encourage shoppers to go in the evenings which should increase our city’s business, boost jobs and help our local economy.”
Interesting fact: “My maternal side of my family is from Shetland and mysteriously our oldest known relative was an Olah Smith who was washed up as a child and taken in by the Smith family.”
Ash HAYNES (Green Party)
Ash has been a councillor for Town Close ward since being elected in 2010. During this time she has worked on behalf of local residents to get road safety improvements, such as the new crossing on Hall Road and to save local services including the Post Office on Vauxhall Street.
She has campaigned against evictions due to the bedroom tax.
She believes housing needs to be radically improved, both building more homes to tackle the growing crisis and improving the quality of the houses that are currently being built.
Ash gave birth on Sunday. May 11 to a healthy baby girl called Meredith weighing 6 pounds 15 ounces.
Jamal SEALEY (Labour)
“I haven’t always been ‘political’. I used to be someone who’d say it doesn’t make much difference who you vote for and parties only turn up on your doorstep when they want your vote.
“Then I was made redundant and my friends, family and community started to suffer too. The politics of the coalition allowed that to happen and it became clear that Labour is the only party consistently on the side of ordinary people.
“Since last May I’ve spoken with hundreds of people in Town Close and done 15 community campaigns. My team and I work all year round – not just at election time.
Interesting fact: Jamal helps to run a community football team called Tiger FC which helps disadvantaged young men. It’s the only team he’s heard of where everyone – including the players – gets trained in Mental Health First Aid.
Bert BREMNER (Labour)
“I was brought up in a superb Tuckswood council house, with wonderful schools, and a lovely place to grow up.
“Those homes and thousands like them were built by a series of Labour councils and they changed lives.
“I want to help build more council homes, and even more important to bring all our 15,000 council homes we have left up to Norwich standard, with efficient energy saving boilers, and proper, up to date kitchens and bathrooms.
“We have done the windows now we need the full insulation, and those new doors. I won’t forget my patch and I hope I live up to our motto ‘Always listening, always helping, always caring - All year round, not just at election time’.”
Tom CRISP (Liberal Democrat)
“As a recent graduate with a keen interest in community engagement and local democracy I would be privileged to represent University ward.
“I studied Politics and English Literature at Hull and have volunteered and worked in a range of roles as diverse as the Learning Support Unit of School, to Parliament, to making sherbet lemons in a sweet factory.
“On priority issues such as parking tensions, public safety and transport the way forward seems to getting residents, local authorities and students talking to each other.
“During what spare time I have I enjoy reading, running and having a drink with friends.”
Interesting fact: “When I was seven I came in the top fifty of a national writing competition, winning a Blue Peter badge.”
Phillip DI PALMA (Green Party first choice candidate)
Phil believes that the Greens are now the only party with true anti-austerity policies, fighting to protect the most vulnerable in society.
Phil very much supports public ownership of our most important industries, and the Green Party is the only party which wants to bring the energy companies and railways back into public ownership as demonstrated in a recent report by lead European candidate Rupert Read.
Interesting fact: Phil is a musician, who plays Indian harmonium and drums in local band Eastern Seaboard.
Joe FERRIS (Conservative)
“I am currently in my final year studying for a law degree at the University of East Anglia.
“Living in West Earlham, I care passionately about my community. I value the importance of local links with the University, and want to maintain and promote integration between local residents and students as much as possible. In recognising local concerns,
“I would prioritise tackling issues surrounding public transport routes. I would also deliver strong representation for the University ward in City Hall, and make sure your voice is heard when it comes to inefficiencies.”
Philip JIMENEZ (Liberal Democrat)
Philip has lived in the city for 30 years, during which time he has taken an active interest in local issues as well as those affecting the wider community.
As a Norfolk County Councillor (2001-05) he represented the residents of Nelson ward at County Hall.
He helped to pave the way for local school reorganisation, served as a local school governor for seven years, and played a leading role in successfully opposing plans to close the county’s museums.
Pastorally trained he has, over many years, exercised a ministry to the bereaved. He is married to Jan, a nursing sister, and has a daughter, Joanna.
Spinoza PITMAN (Green Party)
Spinoza has been involved with the work of the Green Party for a number of years. Spin can empathise with students having been one not long ago and is eager to utilise this strength when representing University ward.
Spin has previously worked in retail and is therefore keen for the city council to promote a Green ‘No Zero hour contract’ policy to allow people a fair wage.
Spin wants to see local investment in low-carbon industries to create sustainable, long-term jobs and training opportunities for local people.
Interesting fact: Spin’s favourite film is a low-budget 90s sitcom called Clerks.
Roger RYAN (Labour)
“Jobs and homes are the two key issues facing the people of Norwich. It’s never been harder to find work. It’s never been tougher for people to find a decent home to live in.
“Labour-led Norwich City Council helped create hundreds of jobs last year. It is building council homes for the first time in more than 20 years. Labour will also crackdown on rogue landlords.
“I work as a journalist writing on energy saving and carbon reduction. The council’s recycling rates for household waste are among the best in the country. I want to help carry on that good work.”
Hannah WILTSHIRE (Conservative)
“I work at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital as a nurse. I live locally with my husband and our two children.
“I’m standing for the election as a Conservative because I believe in lower taxes and quality services.
“I want to see the council tax bill cut at Norwich City Council by cutting out waste and doing things more efficiently.”
Sandra BOGELEIN (Green Party)
Green Party candidate Sandra Bogelein, who works at the University of East Anglia said: “I love this city and want to help make it a fair and fine city for everyone to enjoy.
“I am a researcher and a qualified psychologist. I enjoy working with and meeting people of different interests and backgrounds in Norwich including youth clubs, prison groups and charities.”
Sandra is keen to protect community pubs like the Marlpit on Hellesdon Road and is working with Green councillors to improve green spaces locally.
Interesting Fact: She was once chased through a Latin American Jungle by a helicopter (for her own safety).
Martin PEEK (Labour)
“I am standing for Labour as I want to see real change across North Earlham, Marlpit and the Dereham Road area community in Wensum Ward.
“Throughout the year I’ve campaigned hard with residents on issues such saving our local mental health services, building new council housing and steps to improve community safety.
“I live in Marlpit with my wife Jayne, and currently work as a head cook in an older people’s care home. If elected, I would strive to be a strong local voice upon the council, standing up for working people.”
Interesting fact: While serving in the Merchant Navy, Martin sunned himself on a hot beach under the palm trees on Christmas Day one year.
Helen WHITWORTH (Liberal Democrats)
“I’m a former graphic designer and school governor standing to be a strong local voice for the residents of Wensum ward.
“As a former councillor, I’ve got extensive experience of how to get results in local government, and am particularly interested in protecting the local environment and improving our schools and education services.
“As a keen cyclist I’m also particularly interested in improving cycle infrastructure in and around Norwich, to reduce our dependence on cars and cut congestion.
“With your support on Thursday I would be proud to represent Wensum ward on Norwich City Council.”
Interesting fact: “I once kept a Jersey cow as a pet and we made butter from her rich milk, just at the time the experts said that the fat in butter was too high. We couldn’t even give it away to our friends!”
James WIGHT (Conservative)
“Norwich is a fantastic place, and a fine city! As a student attending the University of East Anglia, I am aware of the need for local jobs and an increase in employment and employability.
“As a candidate for the Wensum ward I seek to improve the facilities for young people, and encourage job creation and provide opportunities for entrepreneurship. I am also keen to see improvements to pavements and cycle paths.”
Interesting fact: “I speak fluent Japanese.”