The daughter of an MP, a former Labour candidate and a woman who is at the “heart of the community” are amongst the Conservative candidates hoping to be elected for the first time this year.
The party has their eye on picking up two more seats on North East Lincolnshire Council in May’s local elections. Candidates are hoping that local issues and the improved recycling system will deliver voters.
The party has recruited some new faces alongside other long-standing members seeking re-election. It will be a test of how voters’ see the Conservatives’ previous three years in power.
Christine Vickers, the daughter of Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, is standing in Sidney Sussex ward. She said: “It is my first time standing, but I have been involved in politics for a long time.
“I am local to the area and have been talking to people in the ward about what matters to them. Cutting down on anti-social behaviour, improving the North Promenade and protecting our green spaces are all top of the agenda. Last year saw the first Conservative candidate elected in the Sidney Sussex ward for a long time, so I’m hopeful we can build on that success.”
Mark Sandford is hoping to follow his son Martyn onto the council. Mark previously stood as a Labour candidate, and will be challenging in Heneage ward.
“I have been on Immingham Town Council for many years, but this is my first time seriously being a council candidate. There’s a lot to do in Heneage – I would like to deal with fly tipping, improve the green spaces and cut down on people speeding,” he said.
South ward candidate Karen Batson couldn’t attend the election launch due to commitments at the Grange Community Centre. Her husband Paul described her as “the heart of the community – she’s well known because of how involved she is with everything. The Nunsthorpe is really changing, and she wants everyone to take pride in that.”
Council leader councillor Philip Jackson, who isn’t on the ballot this year, said he was confident that voters in North East Lincolnshire were still backing administration’s approach. He is even hopeful that the party could add to its sizeable majority.
“We have taken pragmatic, common sense decisions rather than the dogma that Labour previously offered,” he said. “The new recycling bin system has dramatically increased how much is recycled. Labour talked about delivering a new waste and recycling system for eight years – we did it in 18 months.
“In this election, we are defending a lot of the seats we took from Labour four years ago, which we have a good chance of doing. I wouldn’t rule out making gains in marginal seats either – we could potentially get a second South ward seat, and we have an excellent candidate in Sidney Sussex.”
Several candidates said that national talking points like the cost of living crisis weren’t on voters’ minds this election. They said that the problems they heard about on the doorstep were all local issues.
“I’m hearing about three things – anti-social behaviour, anti-social behaviour, anti-social behaviour,” Councillor James Cairns, Yarborough ward candidate, said. “People are worried about motorbikes flying up and down Yarborough road, not so much national issues like Brexit or the war in Ukraine.”
In Scartho, councillor Ron Shepherd is urging for a new relief road. In Humberston & New Waltham, councillor Stephen Harness is talking about how new housing estates are affecting life for residents.
This election will be only the second race for many of the group elected in 2018. Councillor Oliver Freeston was 18 years old when he was first elected to his post, and is seeking re-election at the age of 22.
“I understand why people were sceptical when I was first elected – I had lingering doubts of my own. I was entering an arena with a lot of older, more experienced people. There were barriers at first, even with council officers,” he said.
“I hope I have shown myself as someone who can hold people to account, get results and earn the respect of my colleagues. In my first term, we have started to deal with problem of speeding – one of my main election promises – but there is always more that I want to get done.”
By contrast, Councillor Margaret Cracknell has represented Haverstoe for more than 30 years, but says she takes every election seriously. “I never take an election for granted,” she said.
“Residents know me well, but I always listen to what their issues are. We are having big problems with parking around schools which we’re working to resolve – children’s safety has to be our number one issue.”