Local elections on Thursday this week (5th May) see all the seats on South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) up for grabs.
Electors will also be asked to vote yes or no to the introduction of the Alternative Vote system for choosing MPs.
Most residents will by now have had a fair few election leaflets through the door, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats being, as usual, the most prolific.
Here at The Journal, we wanted to find out what issues the candidates are encountering in their conversations with voters “on the doorstep”, so we contacted the hopefuls in the SGC Bradley Stoke North ward, where each of the three main parties has put up a candidate to contest the single seat.
First to get back to us was Jonathan Moore (Labour), a first-time candidate who lives in Wheatfield Drive. We met up with Jonathan in Stanley Mead, off Ormonds Close, where he and his team were delivering the South Gloucestershire Reporter, Labour’s local election newspaper.
The paper has little to say on local topics, focusing instead on national issues such as “unnecessary” health care reform and increases in student tuition fees. South Gloucestershire’s “biggest ever” drop in Government grant settlement and the Council’s £2.3m “raid on reserves” are mentioned as is Bradley Stoke Conservative Councillor Robert Jones’ infamous “we’re not cutting enough” message on Twitter.
Jonathan himself highlighted concerns over SGC’s closure/privatisation of care homes for the elderly and he questioned Conservative promises to put more police on the beat when budgets are being slashed.
A few days later, we met up with Jon Williams (Liberal Democrat), who currently holds the Bradley Stoke North seat, canvassing in Ottrells Mead.
The Lib Dems have been campaigning on a “let’s keep it local” theme, with a recent edition of their Focus on Bradley Stoke newspaper urging voters “not to take the opportunity to register dissatisfaction with national politics” as this might mean “losing candidates who can make a positive difference in the town”.
Jon’s approach was to show voters a list of topics picked from previous Lib Dem street surveys (faster broadband, part-time lights at roundabouts, better ways to recycle, initiatives to tackle anti-social behaviour, more computers in our libraries, more parking at the Leisure Centre) and then ask if any of these struck a nerve.
Jon says Lib Dem pressure has forced Conservative-controlled SGC into a U-turn over cardboard recycling, for which residents will soon be able to obtain a free weighted bag. He says he would rather see the green bin bought back into use, possibly sectionalised so that it can hold different materials, thus cutting down on the number of collection lorries.
Ben Walker, the Conservative candidate, couldn’t find time to meet up with The Journal, saying that his team had “already canvassed Bradley Stoke North twice earlier this year” but he did send us some comments and a photo by email (he’s on the left of the group in the photo).
“The responses on the doorstep have been very varied with lots of comment based on the national picture, concerns about Government spending cuts, lack of electorate trust with the Liberal Democrats and a real resentment of Labour’s mismanagement of the economy.”
The main issues that Ben has picked up are:
- Parking throughout the town with special mention of the Leisure Centre and Pear Tree Pavilions
- Facilities at the Leisure Centre
- The disregard that some businesses off Woodlands Lane show residents living adjacent to it
- The speed of vehicles travelling along Woodlands Lane and speed humps throughout the town
When questioned, residents are generally happy with the local councils and the local area itself, says Ben.
Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday (5th May). The count for the Bradley Stoke district and town wards takes place at the Leisure Centre on Thursday night.
Look out for The Journal’s round up of Town Council election news later this week.
Related link: 2011 District and Town Elections (The Journal)
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