Norwich City Council elections: Spotlight on Crome, Lakenham and Thorpe Hamlet.
Norwich people go to the polls next month to elect 13 councillors to represent them on the city council. Dan Grimmer looks at the state of play in three wards – Crome, Lakenham and Thorpe Hamlet.
Former Norwich Lord Mayor Jeremy Hooke is a massive fan of the Eurovision Song Contest, but he'll be hoping to avoid the sort of result the UK has had in that competition in recent years.
The Green Party are eyeing the Liberal Democrat's Thorpe Hamlet seat in this week's Norwich City Council elections, which would make it a hat-trick for them in that ward if Jo Henderson can topple Mr Hooke.
They came within a whisker when Mr Hooke was last up for election in 2007. On that occasion Mr Hooke triumphed over Green challenger James Conway by a single vote, garnering 953 votes compared to his opponent's 952.
The Greens are currently the second largest party at City Hall, which is in the hands of a minority Labour administration and Thorpe Hamlet is a key target for them.
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Crome is a ward where, for the past three elections, the Conservatives have been runners-up to Labour. Christopher Baxter, who is hoping to turn the ward blue, finished well behind Labour's Jenny Lay in September and is up against Labour's experienced Alan Waters this time around.
With council leader Steve Morphew standing down after these elections, Mr Waters is among the front-runners to succeed him as Labour group leader – and potentially as leader of the city council.
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It's difficult to see him losing in Crome ward, but whether he or Brenda Arthur will be leading Labour in the months ahead is a tougher call to make.
Lakenham has been a difficult ward to predict in recent years and had turned into a bit of a tussle between the Lib Dems and Labour.
Labour's Keith Driver is defending the ward he won in 2007 with a majority of 99. He got 1,159 votes compared to the 1,060 won by Lib Dem Gordon Dean.
The following year it was the turn of the Lib Dems to taste victory, with David Fairbairn seeing off Labour's Bob Sanderson with a 364 majority. But last September the pendulum swung back in the red direction, with Labour's Victoria MacDonald defeating Lib Dem Howard Lee with a 247 majority.
However, the Greens hugely improved their vote in Lakenham in that election and Penny Edwards will be hoping to make it a three horse race between her, Mr Driver and Lib Dem candidate Helen Whitworth.
The UK Independence Party is also fielding one of its five city council candidates in Lakenham, with Steve Emmens looking to improve on the 113 votes he collected last September.
Wendy ATKINSON (UK Independence Party)
Christopher BAXTER (Conservative)
'I am standing again for the local elections as I believe I can make a difference not only to Crome ward but to the whole of our fine city. The Labour-run city council has consistently failed the residents of the Crome ward due to its wasteful policies.
'I am campaigning to improve the basic services offered as, despite the huge tax bill paid by residents in this city, the majority of services are still not at an acceptable level.
'Having campaigned in Crome for several years, I know the area very well, and feel that I would be able to act as a champion for the community within City Hall.'
Alexander FINDLOW (Liberal Democrat)
'I live in Norwich and work in IT/telecommunications. I am married and have two young children. I was a Liberal Democrat councillor in the city between 1992 and 1996 and also a school governor.
'I joined the party in 1981 and I am standing because I feel that we have the right policies for Norwich residents.
'If elected, I will work to implement the Liberal Democrats 'Six to Fix' manifesto for Norwich.
'We are aiming to cut �2m of wasteful spending at City Hall on things like communications and senior management pay; make the council more open and efficient and find out what really happened with the Connaught collapse; tackle Norwich's 9,000 social housing waiting list; give residents a better deal on tax by supporting a council tax freeze; make the city's streets safer by opposing the street light switch-offs; and give more support to local business and enterprise.
Alan WATERS (Labour)
'I am a local resident and serving councillor for Crome. I want to continue the work of Labour at City Hall in investing to create jobs, building homes, improving the environment and challenging damaging cuts by the Tory/Lib Dem government. These cuts affect so many people across the city, including residents of Crome Ward.
'I have led the council's campaign 'Bite Back against the Crunch'. That includes benefit help, extra money for credit unions – including Kett Credit Union covering Crome – free leisure activities and money advice fairs – two were held at Frere Road and Pilling Park community centres. I want this work expanded as the full impact of cuts begins to be felt.
'Many in Crome live in council and housing association properties. I strongly oppose the coalition government's plans for reducing security of tenure. I will campaign against policies that increase the risk of people losing their homes.'
Christine WAY (Green Party)
Christine was instrumental in the development of Transition Norwich, part of the global Transition Network. She is passionate about developing local community resilience in the face of peak oil, climate change and economic downturn.
She facilitates practical carbon conversations courses, which are designed to help people reduce their carbon footprints as well as their energy bills.
She is concerned about high levels of traffic in the city and its effect on the health and safety of the community. She actively campaigns on environmental issues, particularly biofuels and climate change. Christine has lived in Norwich for 25 years and has a small business in the city centre.
Keith DRIVER (Labour)
'Lakenham is where I live and I'm proud to represent Lakenham and Tuckswood ward as a Labour city councillor.
'People I meet feel let down by Lib Dems and Tories. They say they want a strong voice for their concerns, especially families with school age children who see their support being cut and so called 'free schools' taking money from our local schools.
'Under Labour the city council is much more efficient. We no longer have the 'black holes' and financial mess left by the Lib Dems. We have a responsibility to help tackle the country's deficit caused by greedy bankers, not those delivering important public services.
'The 'too far, too fast' cuts being imposed by the Lib Dem/Tories are costing jobs we need in Lakenham and Tuckswood. We need to fight to keep the lights on, secure tenancies and maintain front line services. I promise to keep doing that.'
Penny EDWARDS (Green Party)
Penny would like to be a Green councillor and contribute to improving the local community in a sustainable way.
A keen cyclist and cycling instructor, Penny works to increase the number of children cycling safely on roads and enjoys being part of a wider move to encourage people to use greener forms of transport.
She also thinks that an important part of a councillor's job is to listen to local residents and represent their views. Penny currently works as a teacher in the city and has lived in Norwich for nearly 30 years.
Steve EMMENS (UK Independence Party)
'The UK Independence Party is the only party in these elections with a credible policy to cut the country's public deficit without cutting essential services.
'I will fight to make sure the cuts fall on items not of benefit to the people of Britain.
'The people of Lakenham have been given a raw deal by Norwich City Council. Local people should have priority over incomers for social housing.
'Tenants should have their homes properly maintained by the council in return for the rents they pay.'
Mathew MORRIS (Conservative)
'I am standing as I believe that currently we are being let down by the Labour administration; at a time when tough decisions are needed to be made they are not showing any leadership.
'I think I would be able to work proactively to help safeguard services in Norwich, by ensuring we cut the huge levels of waste in City Hall.
'I think a councillor should be approachable and be willing to work with residents over any issue, large or small. I look forward to helping residents resolve their problems.'
Helen WHITWORTH (Liberal Democrats)
'I live in Norwich and work as a health care assistant. I have two grown up children. I am an experienced campaigner and have served as a local district and county councillor. This means that I know how the system works and I know how to get things done.
'I have worked closely with Lakenham's Liberal Democrat councillors and with our local MP, Simon Wright. I joined with residents to campaign against the inappropriate plans for the development of the Lakenham Sports and Leisure ground site and have campaigned on local housing and transport issues in the ward.
'I am also a strong supporter of the 'Yes To AV' campaign. This referendum offers Norwich residents a chance to change the voting system and make MPs work harder to win our votes.'
Thorpe Hamlet candidates
William DE SPRETTER (Conservative)
'I have lived my whole life in Thorpe Hamlet. I attended local schools and have a great understanding of the local community.
'I am standing because I think I have the energy and enthusiasm to help local people make our city even better.
'Sadly, I feel the current Green Party and Liberal councillors have not effectively opposed the Labour administration.
'I am committed to keeping council tax as low as possible. Currently, the city council is very wasteful, with a senor management team which is top heavy. I would work to reduce bureaucracy and waste, allowing for more money to be freed up for local services, whilst keeping council tax in check.'
Jo HENDERSON (Green Party)
Jo is particularly interested in housing, and as a council tenant can relate to the concerns of other city council tenants.
Being one of the older candidates and having worked with people with housing and care needs, she feels able to understand many of the issues faced by more senior citizens and would work to represent them.
She has worked with your green councillors on a range of issues, including road safety, recycling and antisocial behaviour.
She is also actively involved in the Mousehold tenants' and residents' group. Jo lives in Thorpe Hamlet Ward, in St James Close.
Jeremy HOOKE (Liberal Democrats)
'I was elected to Norwich City Council in 2006 and represent the Thorpe Hamlet ward where I live. For the past 20 years I have worked as an independent financial adviser and have clients in Norwich and London.
'I work tirelessly with local businesses in the city, including giving special support to start-up businesses. I am an executive member of the Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council and have been involved with Coast to County Hospital Radio, a charity in north Norfolk, for over 20 years.
'I have varied interests, ranging from being a percussionist with local orchestras and playing the piano, to reporting on the Eurovision Song Contest for local radio. I have travelled all over Europe to attend the contest for the last 17 years.
'I am a member of the council's twinning committee and served as Lord Mayor in 2008/09.'
Michael STONARD (Labour)
'I live in Thorpe Hamlet. I joined the Labour Party because I believe in Labour values – democracy, fairness and equality. Politicians should work for everyone, not just a privileged few. These principles will guide me as a councillor.
'I worked in the NHS for 25 years and know how important it is to ordinary people. Like many passionate NHS supporters, I am very worried about government plans to cut funding and privatise key parts.
'I want Norwich to continue to lead the way on the environment, combating loan sharks and working with the police to further reduce crime and anti-social behaviour that affect parts of Thorpe Hamlet.
'I support the city council fighting for Norwich – new industries, more jobs and better services for local people. I've done voluntary work in community organisations all my life and currently this includes Future Projects and Norwich Pride.'