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Blacon council seat targeted by former UKIP member

Steve Ingram is among four candidates standing in council by-election

Independent candidate Steve Ingram(Image: Rob Stratford)

Three political parties and one independent are standing candidates in the forthcoming by-election for the Blacon ward on Cheshire West and Chester Council .

The vacancy arises following the resignation of long-standing Labour councillor Reggie Jones whose family circumstances have changed.

Blacon is also represented by Labour councillors Marie Nelson and Carol Gahan.

Former Blacon councillor Reggie Jones

The election takes place on Thursday, April 20, with candidates’ nomination papers to be submitted no later than the deadline of 4pm on Wednesday (March 22).

Traditionally regarded as a safe Labour seat, there will nevertheless be more interest than usual in the by-election as Labour runs the authority with a miniscule one-seat majority.

Former UK Independence Party (UKIP) Chester parliamentary candidate Steve Ingram, who is standing as an independent, will be hoping he can overturn the Labour majority. Mr Ingram has been a thorn in the side of outgoing Cllr Jones with many clashes between the two at Blacon Community Forum meetings.

Mr Ingram, from Treborth Road, Blacon, has raised concerns about the transfer of publicly-owned assets in Blacon to the not-for-profit Avenue Services company.

UKIP had said it was standing a candidate but no nomination papers were submitted in time for the deadline.

Labour candidate Ben Powell outside the Parade Enterprise Centre in Blacon.

Former Labour councillor Ben Powell , who represented St Paul’s ward in Ellesmere Port between 2011 and 2015, is hoping to make a come back and succeed his socialist colleague Cllr Jones.

Mr Powell, who took a break from the council to pursue stand-up comedy in London, had not expected to be back in the spotlight quite so soon but feels ready having fulfilled his ambition of being on the same bill as his hero Stewart Lee and then this opportunity arose.

Mr Powell, 29, who lives in Handbridge , said: “I am really excited to be Labour’s candidate for Blacon; it would be an honour to carry on almost three decades of tireless community work by Reggie Jones.

Cheshire West and Chester Council HQ

“There has been a huge amount of progress made in Blacon in recent years thanks to Reggie, Carol and Marie. My top priority is to build upon the work that is being done to secure improved facilities for young people – I want to make Blacon a better place to grow up!

“I will also fight against Tory cuts to our schools, which could mean fewer teachers, bigger class sizes and reduced after-school activities. Blacon High School faces massive cuts, with £370,000 being slashed from its budget. At the same time, our primary schools face losing hundreds of pounds for every single pupil in Blacon.”

When previously a councillor, Mr Powell served in a number of senior positions, including chair of the public accounts committee and shadow cabinet member for finance. More recently he has worked in Parliament with Labour’s shadow health team.

He is keen to use this experience to improve health outcomes in Blacon, saying that he hopes a health hub can be delivered in the community after plans for a more ambitious health care centre recently collapsed.

“I will champion this work and the views of local residents to ensure that their needs are central to determining what is delivered at the new facility,” he said. “I am also keen to work with groups in Blacon to continue to improve services for older people and combat loneliness and isolation.”

Conservative candidate Jack Jackson out campaigning in Blacon.

Conservative candidate Jack Jackson, 25, who lives in Lache , intends to ‘stand up for Blacon after years of Labour neglect’.

He claimed residents would be paying lower council tax had departing councillor Reggie Jones resigned prior to the budget meeting as Labour would have lost its overall majority although on the night the authority’s only independent councillor Martin Barker voted with the controlling group in any event.

Commenting on the by-election, Mr Jackson, who stood in Blacon at the 2015 local elections, said: “Cllr Jones has served the people of Blacon for 27 years and I want to wish him well in his retirement from the council. But local residents will be shocked that one of his last acts as councillor was to raise council tax for Chester residents.

“After Labour hit Chester with a £5.8 million council tax increase last year, they’re demanding an extra £6.1 million, or £52.91 for families in a Band D property, this year.

“Local residents tell me that for all the extra tax they are paying to the council, they aren’t seeing the benefit in their community. The upcoming by-election is a chance for people in Blacon to say enough is enough to Labour’s tax raid on Chester families.

“I’ll be working tirelessly to earn your support and be a councillor who will stand up for Blacon after years of Labour neglect.”

Lib Dem candidate Lizzie Jewkes

Lib Dem candidate Lizzie Jewkes, a grandmother and mother-of-four, from Ellesmere Port, is an experienced party member who first stood for parliament in 1992 and joined the party at the age of 27, in 1984. She lays claim to being the one who came up with the idea, adopted by the Con-Lib coalition under Cameron and Clegg’s leadership, of raising the income tax threshold to £10,000, meaning the low paid wouldn’t pay any income tax.

She recently made the news after spearheading a campaign group pushing for the creation of a new town council for Ellesmere Port.

Ms Jewkes, a former magistrate, previously told The Chronicle about the need to address reasons behind why people sometimes misbehave while taking a hard-line on those who break the law. The Chronicle has unsuccessfully tried to contact Mrs Jewkes for a comment.

But she said on Twitter : “Really pleased to be LD candidate in Blacon by-election. Join me in campaigning to make a real difference to local people.”

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