As the first ballot boxes started heading for Ellesmere Port’s Civic Hall from the 60 plus polling stations in the Ellesmere Port and Neston constituency, the dust started to settle on an election campaign which has seen seven candidates vying to succeed Labour’s Andrew Miller who has held the seat since 1992.
Among the major parties, the fight between Labour and the Conservatives pitched local candidate Justin Madders, an employment lawyer who has risen steadily through the town’s political circles since 1998, against newcomer Katherine Fletcher a Cheshire businesswoman who has only been engaged in grass roots politics for 18 months.
Mr Madders has said that if elected he will represent the seat with energy and passion while local Tory chairman Myles Hogg insisted Katherine will ‘fight every step of the way’ to get the best for the constituency.
Lib Dem candidate Trish Derraugh, a Neston town councillor, picked up on peoples’ disillusionment with politics and argued she had a wealth of experience in the real world while Left Unity’s Felicity Dowling, a teacher in the constituency, has been backing issues including no fracking, the NHS, women’s rights, housing and children’s rights.
For the Green Party, Michelle Palmer, who has lived and worked in the town for over nine years, spelled out her ambition to be a force for change in politics and to repair the lack of trust.
Former Independent Jonathan Starkey, standing for UKIP, an international production music composer, pointed to his previous experience as a councillor and a school governor and his campaigning for free parking and gated alleyways.
From Liverpool’s Riverside constituency, Independent John Dyer has stood to highlight issues around the decommissioning of a nuclear reactor and testing cell at the former Shell research centre at Thornton in the late 1960s.
Five years ago, Mr Miller held off four other Westminster hopefuls to retain the seat with a 4,331 majority over the Conservatives. There was a turnout of 70.1%, with 44,233 electors voting.