This month’s elections to Bromsgrove District Council have been given a boost by the large number of independent candidates entering the fray.
There are 12 “independents’ alliance” candidates standing across Bromsgrove, with a large concentration on this side of the district.
They are hoping villagers will vote for them to break the one-party dominance at Bromsgrove which they say does not work in the interests of residents.
It is a two-horse race in Barnt Green and Hopwood, where Charlie Hotham – the current independent district councillor, vice-chairman of the parish council and county councillor for the Alvechurch Division – is being opposed by Mary Marsh, a Conservative.
In Alvechurch Village Ward independent Kate Van der Plank is campaigning to hold the seat against a challenge from Neil Harris for the Tories, and Louise Humphries, of Stoke Prior, for Labour.
In the pivotal Alvechurch South Ward, there is a wide open race as an independent candidate, Alvechurch villager Annette English, has joined the tussle against Trevor Bland, of Beoley, for the Tories, Dean Petters, of Alvechurch, for the LibDems, and Alan Cooper, of Rubery, for Labour.
There is a crowded polling card in Cofton where independent Rob Van der Plank, of Alvechurch, is standing against long-serving councillor Richard Deeming for the Tories, Antony Maslen, of Rubery, for Labour, LibDem Sarah Woodhouse, of Barnt Green, and Green Jill Harvey, of Lickey.
In the sprawling ward of Tardebigge, Alvechurch resident Sarah Courbet is standing as an independent against the incumbent Tory Peter Whittaker, along with LibDem Nicholas Hind, of Cofton Hackett, and Labour’s Sean Shannon, of Aston Fields.
Another interesting two-horse race is in Lickey Hills where long-time parish councillor Janet King is again taking the LibDem fight to the Conservative Kit Taylor.
An independent, Steve Capewell, has thrown his hat into the ring in neighbouring Rubery South, while over in Wythall West, Hollywood and Drakes Cross wards, three candidates are standing under the banner of Wythall Residents’ Association, which allies itself with the independents at Bromsgrove.
On the other side of the district in Hagley East and West, where the independent spirit blossomed, Rachel Jenkins and Steve Colella are hoping to continue their success, while Dean Smith is standing as an independent in Rock Hill, Bromsgrove.
In other wards covered by this magazine, there is a Tory-Labour head-to-head in increasingly trendy Aston Fields, where Rory Shannon is taking on the sitting Tory Phil Thomas.
There will be a new face in Marlbrook where Brian Cooper is not standing this time, and the ward is being contested by Ros Cooke, Labour, Peter Harvey, for the Greens, and Conservative Helen Jones.
Finally, Slideslow Ward, which includes the Oakalls and Parklands, sees the Conservative Caroline Spencer being challenged by David Skidmore, for Labour, and LibDem Samuel Evans.