Westfield and Wheldrake wards reviewed
The Westfield Ward is home to 14,171 residents. Average incomes are significantly lower than the City average. 57% of residents own their home. 9% rent privately and 32% are social tenants. There are 1,654 Council homes in the area (the largest concentration in the City). 2.5% are out of work. Crime levels are above average. 73.9% of residents are satisfied with their local area as a place to live (York average 88.6%). 38.1% believe that they can influence decisions in their local area (City average 26.2). Source
Westfield has been held by the Liberal Democrats for most of the last 50 years. Labour briefly gained the three seats in their 2011 landslide but equally quickly lost them again. The end for Labour started in the autumn of 2014 when a by-election saw a record swing back to the LibDems and their candidate Andrew Waller. They followed that up by taking all the seats in the 2015 poll with large majorities.
The only blip came when they decided not to re-select Sheena Jackson as a candidate. It is understood that this was for reasons of style rather than policy differences.
The new LibDem candidate is former local government officer Simon Daubeney who doesn’t live in he ward (but lives nearby in Woodthorpe). Indeed it is the first time in 50 years that the LibDems will not be including a Foxwood resident on their slate of candidates . Foxwood is the largest population centre in the ward having about 1/3 of the total electorate. Two of the other candidates do live in Foxwood (Sheena Jackson and Labour’s Louise Corson, although the latter declined to say where lives on her nomination form!).
Labour are also fielding someone who describes himself as a “Management Consultant” and who has moved into the Chapelfields area. Their third candidate is a former Ethiopian refugee currently living in the Holgate Ward. He apparently admires the Ethiopian socialist people’s revolution, which may put him to the left of even most ardent of Corbyn supporters.
The other two parties are putting up “straw” candidates although the Tories have drafted in current Rawcliffe Councillor Sam Lisle, no doubt to give him a salutary send off.
This is one of the poorest wards in the City. It has a very large percentage of social housing. More housing is scheduled to be built on local playing fields and sports grounds. Life expectancy is the lowest in the City and obesity levels are the highest. The LibDems will feel that they have done enough over the last 4 years to merit a further term of office. ….but more will be expected of them if they are to continue in the future.
3 Liberal Democrat seats
The Wheldrake Ward is home to 4,132 residents. Average incomes are significantly higher than the City average. 86% of residents own their home. 8% rent privately and 5% are social tenants. There are 44 Council homes in the area (the largest concentration in the City). 1.3% are out of work. Crime levels are below average. 83.3% of residents are satisfied with their local area as a place to live (York average 88.6%). 18.2% believe that they can influence decisions in their local area (City average 26.2). Source
Wheldrake was won by the Tories from the LibDems in 2011. It has remained Tory since then. There is an unusual choice of candidates with two of them adopting a peripatetic approach to their party loyalties.
Current Councillor Suzie Mercer was elected as a Conservative. She was one of the 9 Councillors who quit the 14 strong Tory party group, one way or another, in the run up to the election. She is seeking to retain her seat as an Independent.
Equally flexible is the LibDem candidate Christian Vassie who represented the area on the Council between 1999 and 2007. He lost his seat in 2011 and strangely chose to contest the Holgate Ward as an Independent in the 2015 poll. He performed poorly there. He now turns up again in Wheldrake, the ward in which he lives. His application to return to the LibDems must have caused some soul-searching for the candidate selection panel, especially in view of his acerbic comments about party policy in the letters column of the local newspaper.
The Tory candidate, relative unknown Wesley Coultas, lives in the ward in the village of Naburn. This is the smallest of the villages which make up the ward. Wheldrake and Elvington are both much larger communities.
Parochial loyalties can be important in rural areas like this, so Susie Mercer’s links with Wheldrake may be enough to give her victory in what could be a difficult year for the Tories.
1 Independent seat