Norwich City Council Elections 2018: Focus on Thorpe Hamlet and Town Close

PUBLISHED: 15:20 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:06 01 May 2018

Voters go the polls a week today for the Norwich City Council elections. Pic: Nick Butcher.

Voters go the polls a week today for the Norwich City Council elections. Pic: Nick Butcher.

Archant © 2017

Thorpe Hamlet and Town Close are two wards where the Green Party will be determined to see off the challenge of Labour.

Thorpe Hamlet candidates: Alex Jackson-Dennis (C), Cavan Stewart (L), Lesley Grahame (G) and Gordon Dean (LD).Thorpe Hamlet candidates: Alex Jackson-Dennis (C), Cavan Stewart (L), Lesley Grahame (G) and Gordon Dean (LD).

Bruised by the 2016 elections, where Labour took four of their seats, these are both important seats for the opposition group at City Hall.

Two years ago, Thorpe Hamlet was the only Green-held seat which the party managed to keep out of Labour’s hands, when incumbent Ben Price saw off the challenge of Eamonn Burgess by a mere 31 votes.

Lesley Grahame, who has represented Thorpe Hamlet since 2014, will be working hard to retain her seat, with former Thorpe St Andrew School teacher Cavan Stewart fighting for a Labour victory.

Solicitor Gordon Dean, a former Norfolk county councillor, is the Liberal Democrat candidate, while the Conservatives are pinning their hopes on Alex Jackson-Dennis.

Town Close candidates: Ian Stutely (L), Silvia Schmidtova (LD), Mary Chacksfield (C) and Nick Caistor (G).Town Close candidates: Ian Stutely (L), Silvia Schmidtova (LD), Mary Chacksfield (C) and Nick Caistor (G).

The Greens lost the county council Thorpe Hamlet seat to Labour in last year’s Norfolk County Council elections, with Mrs Grahame missing out to Labour’s Chris Jones, with 75 votes between them.

The Greens also failed to hold on to Town Close in the 2016 City Hall elections, when their councillor Paul Neale was beaten by Labour’s Karen Davis. The two candidates were separated by 188 votes.

The Green candidate this time around is Nick Caistor, with former Green group leader Ash Haynes not seeking re-election.

Labour’s candidate is Ian Stutely. The Conservatives, who came third last time with just over 500 votes, have put forward Mary Chacksfield.

She came second behind Labour when she stood for the Town 
Close ward in last year’s Norfolk County Council elections and finished third when she stood in Sewell in the 2016 city council elections.

The Liberal Democrats, who finished fourth in Town Close in 2016 have Silvia Schmidtova as their candidate.

Norwich City Council is currently under the control of Labour. They have 26 seats, the Green Party 10 and the Liberal Democrats three.

Polling day is Thursday, May 3 with 13 of 39 seats – a third of the council – up for election. The count will take place the following day, with results expected in the afternoon.

Tomorrow: Focus on University and Wensum wards.

Who is standing in Thorpe Hamlet?

Gordon Dean (LD): “Having gone from studying Law at the University of East Anglia to training at a Norwich City firm and rising to partner level, before founding Gordon Dean Solicitors, my personal and professional life has been consistently intertwined with Norwich.

“With an office on Princes Street and a home near the city centre I have enormous pride, in my family, my staff and my business.

“I have previously been a county councillor and am on board of Norfolk Community

Law Service, which provides free advice on employment, family, debt, housing and discrimination law. Passionately opposed to Brexit and homelessness.”

Lesley Grahame (G): “I have been a city councillor for eight years, and am standing for re-election in Thorpe Hamlet ward, where I have lived for many years. I have also been an active campaigner for several decades with organisations such as CND and Biofuelwatch as well as numerous local campaign groups.

“I believe decisions should be made at a local level wherever possible. If elected, I will continue to use my role at

City Hall to promote a thriving local economy, through supporting community energy projects and local food production as well as campaigning for more employers to pay a real living wage.

“Social and economic justice and peace are only possible when they include environmental justice. Our society needs to change direction to reduce inequality, tackle climate change, putting our shared long-term needs above short-term expedience.”

Alex Jackson-Dennis (C): “I have spent the last few years campaigning tirelessly on the doorstep and speaking to real people about the real issues they face.

“When I’m not talking to residents I am an organiser of Norwich Pride and I seek to tackle discrimination and promote equality wherever possible, as a member of the LGBT+ community I cannot help but reflect on how far things have come in the last ten years and I hope to be able to take them even further.

“I am also very concerned about the environment, the damage we’re doing to our rivers and oceans is something that comes up often on the doorstep and it would be a priority of mine to tackle this problem and protect the river and the beautiful green spaces we are so lucky to enjoy in Thorpe Hamlet.”

Cavan Stewart (L): “I have lived in Thorpe Hamlet for the past 25 years and used to be a teacher at Thorpe St Andrew School.

“My priorities are standing up for local people and fighting to protect services including our police, libraries, doctor’s surgery, buses and schools.

“With other local residents, I successfully campaigned against Generation Park, which would have seen a straw burning plant with the potential to spread toxic fumes across this area. I continue to call for measures to reduce airborne pollution from cars, buses and lorries.

“I have been personally involved in activities at a number of open spaces, including Old Library Woods and Kett’s Heights where I am chair of the Friends Group. We are helping to keep these areas clean, more welcoming and a focal point to build a stronger and more vibrant community which is in a better position to combat elements of anti-social behaviour.”

Who is standing in Town Close?

Nick Caistor (G): “It is clear that we need to build a fairer and more equal society and that is what attracted me to the Green Party.

“I am standing to become the councillor for Town Close ward to do my small bit to achieve this.

“Belonging to the Green Party means I work for the benefit of all the local residents in that part of Norwich, especially those less confident or capable of speaking up for themselves.

“I will continue to build on the hard work and campaigns that previous Green Party councillors for this area have undertaken, especially improving public transport, ensuring better accessibility for the disabled to local shops and maintaining social services in the community.

“Norwich needs more Green Party councillors to hold the administration to account and ensure that the right decisions are made. I hope you will elect me as one of these Green councillors.”

Mary Chacksfield (C): “I have spent many years campaigning in Norwich and I am concerned about crime in Town Close.

“Antisocial behaviour not only makes people feel unsafe in their own homes, but it can also damage the environment in terms of litter and graffiti.

“I would take a tough stance on these issues because safety and the conservation of our environment are cornerstones of the Conservative mindset.

“I want to ensure the council will act faster to remove graffiti and clean up the community quickly to prevent this kind of antisocial behaviour.”

Silvia Schmidtova (LD): “I was born in Slovakia, but have lived in Norfolk for the past 10 years. After studying economics, I spent my early career caring for children with physical and mental health needs.

“Since settling in the UK, I have spent several years in the care sector, but now work in the city at Norwich Cathedral.

“I have always had a passion for politics and was active in community life back in Slovakia. I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2014, and have been involved in several of the party’s key campaigns.

“With Brexit now a reality, I believe that the UK and the EU must remain strong, constructive partners in the future.

“As a parent, I have a particular interest in seeing that the children in Norwich are well looked after and that schools in Town Close and across the city are well funded.

“Outside of politics, my main interests are history, painting, dancing and animal welfare.”

Ian Stutely (L): “Norwich has been my home for over 40 years. I love the city, I care about our community, and the future of Norwich, and that’s why I’m standing as the Labour candidate in Town Close.

“I enjoy getting involved with community work. In the past year I have campaigned against cuts to our police team, Children’s Centres, and endless Tory austerity that affects so many of our local people.

“I have met with hundreds of residents and listened carefully to their views and ideas; I’ve volunteered on community projects and supported local businesses. Our community is a lovely place to live, but I know it can be better.

“Town Close needs a champion for local people, the environment, and our communities. If elected I will continue campaigning to protect local services that we all rely on and will always seek to promote our communities, local businesses, and equality for all.”

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