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Saturday July 20 2019

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In Full . . .

Indie hope for poll boost

Posted on April 29 2019 at 3:41:37

The candidates are up and running to find a new council to take charge at Bromsgrove – and make decisions that will affect villagers’ lives for years to come, particularly when it comes to the “B” word.

And this “B” word is Barntchurch – the threat of 10,000–15,000 homes on the Green Belt between Barnt Green, Alvechurch and Blackwell.

In a vote last year, the ruling Conservative group defeated an independent motion to shelve the report that raised the spectre of Barntchurch.

Now independent candidates are standing across the district, saying they hope to change the balance of power at Bromsgrove and herald an era of decision-making “for the people” rather than in the interests of individual political parties.

Shelving Barntchurch is likely to be a priority if the independents were to prevail and fulfil their pledge to work with both Conservatives and Labour on behalf of the people of Bromsgrove.

The hope of a power shift on May 2 has given this election a different feel to those in recent years – particularly compared to 2015 when there was a relative dearth of candidates, with some wards being a straight fight between Conservative and UKIP candidates.

That resulted in the 31-seat council comprising 18 Tories, seven Labour, three independents and three Wythall Residents Association councillors.

The Tories then lost Alvechurch Village Ward to independent Kate Van der Plank in a by-election two years ago and so now the ruling group has only a slim majority of three seats to defend.

This means the wards in The Village area are likely to be pivotal. If Coun Van der Plank can take Alvechurch Village Ward again and Coun Charlie Hotham continue his winning record in Barnt Green and Hopwood, all eyes will be on Alvechurch South.

In 2015, the Conservative June Griffiths beat her sole opponent for the ward, from UKIP, by 1152 votes to 416, before falling ill in May 2017.

This led to complaints that the people of the Alvechurch South were not being properly represented  and the Conservatives will be hoping this is not reflected in voters’ preferences this May.

Meanwhile, It is yet to be seen how the “B” word – the other one this time – will play out on polling day, particularly for Conservative candidates.

Some feel the prolonged Brexit debate has energised interest in politics while others say people won’t bother to vote again.

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