For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Archive - Thursday, 29 April 2010
Find by date
Other ways to search
Also look for
Candidates prepare for battle
WITH a Labour majority of 10,404 to overturn, it is tempting to think the election result in Darlington is a foregone conclusion.
However, until Alan Milburn won for Labour in 1992, the town was considered to be almost a marginal seat.
For most of the Eighties, Darlington was held by Conservative MP Michael Fallon.
And despite not holding a majority in the council chamber, the Tories had the popular vote in the last local authority elections, in 2007.
Unfortunately for their party hopeful Edward Legard, unlike the council boundaries, the constituency does not include outlying villages such as Sadberge, Middleton St George and Hurworth, which may be more likely to vote in his favour.
Nevertheless, the party is hopeful it can make significant inroads into the Labour majority.
With Alan Milburn standing down as the town’s MP, coupled with national disenchantment at the Labour party, the Tories feel there is the potential for a shock.
Despite this, they still have a considerable fight on their hands, both from the Labour candidate and also from the Liberal Democrats, who feel they are in a position to overtake the Tories as the town’s second party.
In Jenny Chapman and Mike Barker, as the respective Labour and Lib Dem candidates, the two parties have opted to choose local councillors, unlike the Tories, who have chosen to bring in Mr Legard from outside the town. The barrister and former Army officer is from Appleton-le-Street, between Thirsk and Malton, but has lived and worked in the Tees Valley areas all his life.
Both Mrs Chapman and Mr Barker have been keen to play up their local credentials.
Outside of the three main political parties, there is unlikely to be any upset from minor parties. The BNP does not hold much sway in Darlington and in a recent byelection for Whessoe Parish Council only polled 18 votes.
The candidate in that byelection, John Hoodless, who was due to stand at the General Election, may conceivably have garnered a few votes from people who knew him as a local man who previously had ties with the Labour party and UKIP.
However, an acrimonious falling out with the party over his replacement with Amanda Foster, from Spennymoor, means any protest votes are more likely to be made in favour of UKIP candidate Charlotte Bull.
A number of issues face the town when the new parliament is elected and any prospective candidate will have to answer questions about how they propose to deal with them.
While Darlington has a number of major employers, such as Orange, Cummins and Cleveland Bridge, a large proportion of Darlington’s workforce is employed in the public sector and any Government cuts on spending could have a significant impact on the town.
A number of promised building projects, such as Central Park, Lingfield Point and The Oval, could also be in danger of stalling if there are large-scale spending cuts and the future MP will need to see that these developments are fulfilled.
● Contesting the Sedgefield seat are: Paul Steven Gittins (Ind); Brian James Gregory (Ukip); Neil Mahapatra (Cons); Alan Thompson (Lib Dem); Mark Walker (BNP); Phil Wilson (Lab).