Local elections: Tories seeking change in the Palace guard
TODAY (Thursday) candidates begin the last week of election campaigning. In the race to gain a seat on North Herts District Council there is nothing more intriguing than the outcome of the Palace ward in Royston. In recent years, the ward has elected a c
TODAY (Thursday) candidates begin the last week of election campaigning.
In the race to gain a seat on North Herts District Council there is nothing more intriguing than the outcome of the Palace ward in Royston.
In recent years, the ward has elected a councillor from each of the major political parties.
Indeed, in the last decade it has constantly seen a changing political landscape.
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And in being so Palace ward remains one, of the most difficult seats to predict.
The contest next Thursday, however, will be between the two sitting Liberal Democrat councillors, Liz Beardwell and Robert Inwood, and the Conservative candidates Bill Davidson and Graham Palmer.
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The ward has gained a reputation for voting out sitting councillors.
It happened when Mr Davidson took the seat with a majority of just over 30 votes several years ago - and then the Tory candidate lost the seat last year by 52 votes when Mrs Beardwell gained the ward for the Liberal Democrats.
Obviously, there is every possibility of yet another change to the Palace guard.
Royston town councillor Robert Smith, who is running the Tories' campaign, said his party was getting "a good positive reaction" from their canvassing.
"There seems to be a strong anti-Government feeling and frustration with the Liberal Democrats," he said.
"The message we are attempting to get across is that we are committed to listening to residents' concerns," he said.
He believed, however, that there would be a low turn-out at the polling stations for next Thursday's elections.
"We are making a lot of effort in encouraging people to vote," he added.
The turn-out in last year's North Herts District Council elections in the Palace ward was 39 per cent.
Cllr Inwood said the Liberal Democrats, too, were receiving a "positive response" in the Palace ward.
In a piece of political party rhetoric he said campaigning showed that residents were annoyed with this year's rise in Council Tax and the threat to services.
He claimed there was a "general inefficiency" in the workings of the district council.
Labour candidate Ken Garland said: "We may not be as active as in the past, but at least we have candidates standing to ensure that people get a proper choice.
"It's all part of the democratic process," he said.
This year will see all 49 seats on the district council contested because of boundary changes.
There have been cosmetic changes to the boundaries in the three Royston wards.
Elsewhere in Royston, Tory councillors Fiona Hill and Peter Burt will be defending their seats in the Heath ward while long-serving Cllr F John Smith and Cllr Tony Hunter are seeking re-election in the Meridian ward.
The Tories have had control of the district council since 1999 when Labour lost a seat in a by-election.
Outside Royston, Cllr Howard Marshall is seeking re-election for the Tories in the Ermine ward: a ward which stretches from Reed to Therfield.
He is standing against Liberal Democrat candidate Joan Inwood.
In the Arbury ward, which covers Ashwell and the surrounding area, Tory Andrew Young is defending his seat against Liberal Democrat and ex-district councillor and Herts county councillor Ian Simpson.