THE list of candidates standing in the forthcoming local Dudley borough and European elections has been released.
Both The Green Party and UKIP are fielding candidates in every ward, as are the traditional Labour and Conservative parties.
But the Lib Dems – who in the late 90s/early noughties boasted a high of 11 councillors on Dudley Council – are only putting up candidates in four of the 11 Stourbridge area wards.
Among those is party stalwart Chris Bramall, a former Norton councillor for nine years and a four-time parliamentary candidate for Stourbridge.
The 71-year-old defended his choice to stick with the party, which has nosedived at the polls since Nick Clegg formed the Coalition Government with David Cameron, said: “We’re not at our strongest but we’ve never been able to put candidates in every ward in Dudley.”
He said he remains dedicated to the party, despite its demise locally in recent years, because of its policies on climate change and Europe.
He added: “We are the only party that consistently stands for doing something about climate change and that’s what we do in government now; and we’ve always been the party that’s said yes it’s important to get together with other countries in Europe, that increases our influence in the world.
“At one time we got a lot of votes from people who wanted to make a protest, when you go into government you’re taking responsibility and that’s what Nick Clegg did. He and David Cameron saved the country from a far worse recession.”
The other Lib Dem candidates are: Margaret Hanson (Wollaston and Stourbridge Town), Simon Hanson (Pedmore and Stourbridge East) and Harold Hanson (Amblecote).
Meanwhile the Greens hope to follow up their success in 2012 by getting Stourbridge’s Bill McComish a seat on Dudley Council.
Will Duckworth, who won the Netherton ward seat two years ago and is now deputy leader of the party, said: “We’re fielding candidates in every ward for the second year and we’re getting so many people helping us.
“We had three councillors in the West Midlands at the last European election in 2009 and now we’ve got 20.
“Throughout the West Midlands we expect to gain another four or five and in Dudley another one – in Netherton.”
Cllr Duckworth is also the party’s number one chance to win a West Midlands Euro seat, while wife Vicky and party colleague Mussi Aldo from Oldbury are also standing in the West Midlands Euro election.
Other Green candidates in the location election in the Stourbridge area are: Catherine Maguire (Amblecote), Gordon Elcock (Brierley Hill), Karlie Owen (Cradley and Wollescote), Liz Jednorog (Kingswinford North and Wall Heath), Vicky Duckworth (Kingswinford South), Dennis Neville (Lye and Stourbridge North), Pam Archer (Norton), Liz Tilly (Pedmore and Stourbridge East), Martin Cotterell (Quarry Bank and Dudley Wood), Lawrence Rowlett (Wollaston and Stourbridge Town) and Maurice Archer (Wordsley).
The Greens, however, will have competition from UKIP – particularly in Netherton where disability rights campaigner Steve Daniels will be battling to win.
Buoyed by a visit from Nigel Farage on Friday(April 25), the party hopes to cause a political earthquake in the local and European elections.
Dudley UKIP regional organiser Bill Etheridge will be fighting it out in both; he’s standing in Sedgley and in the West Midlands Euro election. Fellow Sedgley UKIP member Lyndon Jones is also on the list of hopefuls trying to become a West Midlands Euro MP.
While former Lye Conservative councillor Adrian Turner, a recent convert to UKIP, will be battling to gain the Hayley Green and Cradley South seat.
Other UKIP candidates in the Stourbridge area are: Paul Bradley (Amblecote), Raymond Franklin (Brierley Hill), Lee Sargent (Cradley and Wollescote), Mike Rumble (Kingswinford North and Wall Heath), Alan Etheridge (Kingswinford South, Sarah Wilson (Lye and Stourbridge North), David Powell (Norton), Glen Wilson (Pedmore and Stourbridge East), Helen Wimlett (Quarry Bank and Dudley Wood), Barbara Deeley (Wollaston and Stourbridge Town), Paul Brothwood (Wordsley).
Despite the defection of Adrian, together with former Conservative stalwarts Ken and Hazel Turner to UKIP, the borough’s Tories remain upbeat about their chances locally and in the European election.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Conservatives, said at April 24's manifesto launch: “We are the only party with a positive message and I believe we have the best group of candidates for a long time. The candidates all know their way round the council and we’ve got people with real-life experience.”
Cllr Harley (Kingswinford South) and fellow party stalwarts John Jones (Wordsley) and Colin Elcock (Norton) are among those fighting to keep their seats – while long-time party members and former councillors Colin Banks (Amblecote) and Nic Barlow (Wollaston and Stourbridge Town), who were ousted in the bloodbath 2012 election which saw the Tories lose control of Dudley Council, are returning to try and retake the wards they previously served.
Meanwhile Natalie Neale (Kingswinford North and Wall Heath), a dress shop owner and long-time NHS worker; Dan Jones (Brierley Hill), a pharmacist; Steve Clark (Cradley and Wollescote), a small business owner; and Asan Mishaq (Lye and Stourbridge North),a manufacturing firm manager; and Tim Wood (Quarry Bank and Dudley Wood), a self-employed carpenter, are among the party’s new hopefuls.
While Mike Wood, assistant to Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris, is standing in his seventh local election and is tipped to win the Pedmore and Stourbridge East seat which is being vacated by long-serving councillor Colin Wilson, who is retiring.
Councillor David Sparks, leader of Dudley Council and the borough’s Labour group who took control of Dudley at the last location election in 2012, said it would be difficult to predict how the party will fare this time round but added: "We’re confident but not complacent.”
Cllr Sparks (Quary Bank and Dudley Wood) is among a host of party stalwarts up for election this year.
Also hoping to hang onto their seats will be Tim Crumpton – Dudley’s children’s services boss – (Cradley and Wollescote), Dudley’s deputy leader Pete Lowe (Lye and Stourbridge North), Zafar Islam (Brierley Hill), Barbara Sykes (Wollaston and Stourbridge Town) and Lynn Boleyn (Kingswinford North and Wall Heath) – a former Lib Dem who won her seat in 2012 after switching to Labour.
Also standing for Labour is: Glenn Horton (Amblecote), Shaz Saleem (Kingswinford South), Ron Clarke (Norton, Julie Baines (Pedmore and Stourbridge East), Su Lowe (Wordsley.
Meanwhile former Stourbridge Labour MP Lynda Waltho is fighting for a seat in the European election.
For full list of candidates click on the links below: