With the creation of the unitary authority, 4 new civil parishes were created: St Austell Town Council, St Austell Bay civil parish, Carlyon civil parish and Pentewan Valley civil parish.
A major concern during this election is the proposed building of an incinerator in St Dennis in the China Clay Area.
The largest town in Cornwall with a population of 30,800 (2010 estimate). 10 miles south of Bodmin and 30 miles west of Devon. St Austell civil parish is entirely urban in character. The China Clay industry, once dominant as the St Austell employer, now employs only 2,000 people, but its annual output is higher than ever before. The St Austell Brewery, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2001, supplies cask ale to pubs in Cornwall and the rest of the UK, and its beers are marvellous, I have undertaken studies of the subject.
St Austell Bethel
This division was won by a tiny majority of 18 votes in 2009 by the Liberal Democrat's Graham Walker over the Conservative candidate, Bob Davidson. Both are back but this time Councillor Walker, also a town councillor, is standing as an Independent. He resigned from the party on 21st May, 2012, citing his immense disappointment in national politics. Town councillor Mr Davidson, a former district councillor for Bethel, will be hoping that this will help him to win this time.
For the Liberal Democrats, local constituency party chairman Malcolm Brown will be trying to return the seat to the party fold. A town councillor, Mr Brown won the Bethel by election on the 6th December, 2012. He took 41.5% of the vote over the Tory share of 27.5% and, whilst the majority was only 90, on a low turnout, that was acceptable, and was a gain from the Tories.
Another person with a lot to be happy about from that by election is Brendan Parkinson, the Labour & Co-op candidate in this division, who managed to achieve a Labour vote share of 21%, their best in this area for a long time. Whilst he shouldn't get too excited, that is a vast improvement on the 4.9% achieved in 2009 and, in actual votes cast, they more than doubled from a shocking 64 on a large turnout to 135 on a small one. St Austell is an area where Labour should hope to do well and if constituency party secretary Mr Parkinson can match his vote share then he will be delighted - the lack of a Mebyon Kernow-PC candidate may help him, or the Liberal Democrats. Mr Parkinson stood in the old St Austell North division in 2005 and, with the help of the General Election turnout, managed 18.6% of the vote. He must hope to do at least that. A sports enthusiast, Mr Parkinson was presented with a cheque for £1,000 by Cllr Walker in February of 2012 for St Austell Cricket Club, where he is chairman. I guess that is all the councillor will want to be making a gift of .The Independent didn't do well in that by election, but I doubt this will concern Cllr Walker too much.
UKIP's Ian Proctor, an Oxford Psychology and Philosophy graduate who is principal of Cornwall Language Services, the other candidate from 2009, who will be hoping that UKIP growth across the country will increase his vote enough to get him through a divided field; his 14.8% from last time should increase.
This is quite a tough one to call.Cllr Walker, Mr Davidson and Mr Brown all have strong chances to win here. Mr Davidson will probably be most effected by the UKIP vote and the battle for the Lib Dem vote between Cllr Walker and Mr Brown, as well as Labour's hope of taking votes from the Lib Dems and the play all will be making for those who voted MK-PC last time, makes this look like a fascinating seat. Cllr Walker won with 35.1% of the vote in 2009, I think somebody could win with less than that this time.
Prediction: No idea.
St Austell, Gover
In 2009, Conservative Jenny Stewart just managed to take this seat from the Liberal Democrat's Sandra Heyward by 53 votes and, this time, former Gover district councillor Heyward is hoping to go one step further. This political rivalry has history as Councillor Stewart originally gained her the Gover ward from Ms Heyward in the 2007 district elections with Ms Stewart being squeezed out of election by 48 votes (59 behind Cllr Stewart in what was a two-seat ward). Originally elected in 2003, Ms Stewart topped the poll but even then there were only 39 votes between first and third, so she is used to tight races, normally losing out. Originally an Independent, she has decided to stand as an Independent again but without there being a Liberal Democrat in the race. A town councillor and former mayor, she is a well-known figure and must hope that the unpopularity of the Conservatives will allow her to take the division.
Labour's candidate is Ann Phillips, who will be hoping to reverse the shocking collapse in the Labour vote in this division in recent years. In 2009, Labour could only to get 72 electors (6.2%) to vote for them, and they will be determined to reverse this decline and avoid another squeeze between the other two. It is hard to imagine that Labour wouldn't improve from the depths of unpopularity of 4 years ago, but the history of party weakness in this area goes back further.
The media-savvy Cllr Stewart (also a town councillor) will be happy if Labour can pick up protest votes, not least because it is unlikely that her vote share will remain as high as in 2009; the worry for her is that Ms Heyward will take the strong Lib Dem vote and, as an Independent, pick up any Tories wishing to make a 'non-party' protest. Getting the vote out will be the aim for all three candidates and Labour will be keen to avoid the "Labour can't win here" campaign doing for them.
It is a hard one to call but, even given the signs of Labour recovery and the likelihood of Ms Phillips picking up a healthy vote share for Labour from some of those who have voted Lib Dem for a long time, I think Ms Heyward could just take this seat, but it could well be a squeaker - again.
Prediction: Independent gain - just.
St Austell Poltair
Continuing the amazing story of St Austell 'squeakers', the Conservative Steve Double won this seat in 2009 by 68 votes and with 35.9% vote share, only 90 ahead of the third placed candidate.
Part of the reason for this was that the Liberal Democrat and Independent candidates were both sitting councillors in the old two-seat district ward, with the Liberal Democrat also being a sitting County Councillor. Councillor Double, town councillor and deputy mayor of St Austell, was obviously so surprised to win his seat that he decided to aim higher and has been selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the St Austell and Newquay constituency.
He has decided not to stand for re-election to the County Council, which might seem a mistake but, given the possible loss of the seat this time, it is probably canny and means he will be more in the area in the run-up to the 2015 general election than in County Hall in Truro.
Defending the seat for the Conservatives is Adam Harris, volunteer and chairman of St Austell Community Kitchen (STACK), a charity providing hot meals to the homeless. STACK has won awards for their work and it is good to see such work being recognised and rewarded.
Hoping to wrest the seat back for the Liberal Democrats is Cornwall Councillor Jackie Bull, who has left her much safer Bugle division to face a more difficult challenge, albeit one in which she should be the favourite. The last mayor of the old district council, Cllr Bull works 20 hours a week as a case worker for local MP, Stephen Gilbert. She also runs the charity, ECC/Imerys Pensioners' Holiday Group.
Labour and Co-op's Andrea Lanxon returns as the only candidate who stood in 2009, when she saw the Labour vote fall to 8.5% (91 votes), the best in the area. Ms Lanxon stood for the old district ward in 2003, taking a creditable 20.5% of the vote and she will hope to be able to repeat that kind of vote shre this time. Whilst I do not doubt that Labour's vote will improve, it may not be helped by the entrance to the race of Mebyon Kernow-PC candidate, Derek Collins. Bethel town councillor Mr Collins was a long-time member of the Liberal Democrats who resigned in protest at the party's national coalition with the Conservatives. I can find no recent history of MK voting in this area of St Austell and it remains to be seen how he will do, but I would guess that Cllr Bull will be less than delighted to have to face another challenger from the centre-left (and a former Lib Dem) who might attract anti-government protest votes.
It is hard to predict and nobody knows where the large Independent vote will go (if it turns out) this time. I would be surprised if Cllr Bull doesn't gain this seat but, given the challenge to her vote from Labour and MK-PC and the appeal of a popular and socially-concerned Tory candidate defending the seat, it is a really fascinating battle.
Prediction: Liberal Democrat gain (maybe)
St Austell Bay
This division lies southeast of the town of St Austell and stretches along the coast from Charlestown in the north to Black Head in the south. It includes the communities of Charlestown and is a village and port on the south coast of Cornwall, in the parish of St Austell Bay. It is situated approximately 2 miles south east of St Austell town centre - tall ships, lots of filming), Duporth (now a defunct holiday village), Porthpean and Trenarren (a hamlet northeast of Pentewan). This boundary changes here brought parts of the parish formerly in Megavissey division into this division to preserve a sense of unity in this new (2009) civil parish.
The (unaltered) division had a byelection in November, 2009, following the resignation, due to ill-health, of Councillor Richard Stewart. This resulted in a big turnaround with the gain of the seat by John Oxenham for the Liberal Democrats by only 15 votes from the Conservative candidate, Bob Davidson (now the candidate in St Austell, Bethel). This was achieved with a swing of 13.5% and a great result for the Liberal Democrats. The Labour candidate, the returning Maggi Pitches (I preferred the previous Margaret Mary. I am old-fashioned), was squeezed to 4.6% of the vote in a classic Liberal Democrat victory.
On the face of it then, it is surprising to discover that not only is Councillor Oxenham not standing again for this division, but there is no Lib Dem candidate.
Hoping to take advantage of this and retake the division for the Conservatives is their candidate, local financial adviser Tom French, a St Austell town councillor. He is being challenged by Independent candidate, Ann Langley, who has campaigned about the state of the building site on nearby Carlyon Bay and its effect on tourism in the area. She will be hoping to take advantage of the lack of a Liberal Democrat candidate this time and with Conservative unpopularity nationally, but the actions of the Independents in County Hall, in local coalition with the Tories, may hinder her.
For Labour, as I mentioned above, Maggi Pitches is back and will hope to be able to turn unhappiness with the governments, local and national, to her advantage. The lack of a Lib Dem candidate should, one would think, help Labour here, but Ms Pitches will be determined to establish herself as a strong candidate to prevent another "beat the Tory" squeeze. Labour have polled well here in the past and must hope to do so again.
Prediction: Conservative (re-)gain
Penwithick and Boscoppa
Penwithick or Penwithick Stents is a village 2.5 miles north of St Austell, in the civil parish of Treverbyn in the 'clay country' area of china clay quarrying. There are plans to build a new settlement Baal & West Carclaze south of the village as part of the St Austell and Clay Country Eco-town. This would include 1,800 to 2,500 homes. The plan was given outline approval in July 2009.
Boscoppa is a settlement northeast of St Austell. Originally Boscoppa was a separate village but is now a suburb of St Austell and is west of the recently-built A391 bypass road. The village lies in a former mining area.
Won by Liberal Democrat, Christopher Rowe in 2009 with a 78 majority over the Conservatives, and 110 over Mebyon Kernow's Matthew Luke, this is a highly marginal division. Councillor Rowe is back to defend and his main challenger is probably the returning Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall candidate.
The Conservatives have nominated Jamie Hanlon but, with no Labour candidate this time and the unpopularity of the national coalition parties, I could see Mr Luke coming through the middle to take this.
Prediction: Mebyon-Kernow-Party of Cornwall gain
Fowey and Tywardreath
This division includes Fowey, a small town, civil parish and cargo port at the mouth of the Fowey in south Cornwall At the time of the 2001 census, it had a population of 2,273. Still busy with trawlers and yachts, tourism is also an important source of income. Also in this division is Tywardreath is a small hilltop village in southern Cornwall, 3 miles north west of Fowey, it has 7 masonic lodges, it is in the civil parish of Tywardreath and Par.
Some obvious boundary changes here with Fowey now being joined (as in district wards in the past) with Tywardreath. The Liberal Democrat Councillor David Hughes, elected for the old Tywardreath division, is 'defending' this seat but I am not sure exactly how it would have turned out in 2009. As a ward, it either elected councillors unopposed or split the vote almost equally between Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents. The former Fowey division elected Conservative Sally Bain with a 36 majority over an Independent candidate. On balance, it looks like a better bet that the Liberal Democrats who would have won this seat last time, but given that people vote for different candidates in different ways in these parts, it can't be certain.
In 2007, Cllr Hughes was elected to the old district 3-member ward, 31 votes behind Cllr Bain, who is not standing here this time. He sits on the Tywardreath and Par parish council.
Born in Tywardreath and schooled in Fowey, local man Adrian Wildish is standing for the Conservatives. Formerly serving in the Royal Navy (from age 16), he now works in Plymouth in Military Communications. Very involved locally, he serves on several committees in the area. His wife chairs Tywardreath and Par parish council.
Standing for Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall, is Fiona Carlyon. She has recently demonstrated against the "Bedroom Tax" and actively challenges Councillor Hughes from the left of the political spectrum. There is no recent history I can find of MK-PC electoral activity in this area but, in the absence of a Labour candidate and the unpopularity of the national coalition government, Ms Carlyon may well take votes from Cllr Hughes. History points to a close fight here and it may well be the same this time.
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold/gain.
Mevagissey is a village, fishing port and civil parish, The village is situated approximately five miles south of St Austell. The village nestles in a small valley and faces east to Mevagissey Bay. The inner and outer harbours are busy with a mixture of pleasure vessels and working fishing boats, the remains of a once major industry. However, tourism has supplanted fishing as the dominant industry in recent years.)
Another of the remarkably close run results in the St Austell area was here in the old Mevagissey division, where Conservative Denise Mutton took the seat with a majority of 51 over the Liberal Democrats. Councillor Mutton is not defending this seat so it is an open competition. Always close, Cllr Mutton's majority last time is the highest she has ever achieved when she was the district councillor for the ward of Mevagissey.
Councillor Mutton's replacement for the Conservatives is James Mustoe, who will be hoping he does better than when he lost the St Austell town council by election in Bethel ward (see above). A former civil servant, he works as Office Manager for Sarah Newton, Conservative MP for Falmouth and Truro.
Hoping to take the seat for the Liberal Democrats is Dr Ella Westland, a parish councillor on St Goran parish council. She heads the Community Energy Group of Transition St. Goran working on a wind energy scheme that will be the first community-owned project.
For the Greens, Katherine Moseley, will be hoping to improve on their 10% share in 2009.
Labour had an awful result (as across Cornwall) in 2009, taking only 4% of the vote, so their candidate, Michael Bunney, will hope to return to a decent vote share, well into double figures I would have thought. From Gorran, he is a history teacher and Head of House at the historical (and now Specialist Sports College) King's School, Ottery, St Mary in Devon. He was also runner up for the National Teacher Award south west finals.
The big unknown is the share of the vote that UKIP's Michael Williams will achieve. Described by UKIP as "young and thrusting", Mr Williams was selected for the division in December of 2011, so it'll be interesting to see how hard he has worked since then and what it will achieve. If UKIP do well, it may well tip the balance in Dr Westland's favour, but she will not be too happy to see Labour and the Greens again battling for the centre-left vote, and probably with more success this year.
Prediction: Liberal Democrat gain
Part of St Austell, this division was another close run thing with only 66 votes between first and third. The Liberal Democrat Shirley Polmounter had a majority of 18 over the Independent, Gary King, in 2009.
Both Councillor Polmounter and Mr King are standing again, but now Councillor Polmounter, who was previously a district councillor for Mount Charles, as both and Independent and then a Liberal Democrat, is standing as an Independent again.
For the Conservatives, town councillor Anne Double is running, the wife of Poltair Cornwall Councillor (and Conservative PPC for the St Austell and Newquay constituency) Steve Double, she gained her town council seat in the Mount Charles ward in a byelection with a comfortable victory over the Independent candidate in second place. Worryingly for the Liberal Democrats, it was the Labour candidate who snatched 3rd place, not even having run a candidate in 2009. The Liberal Democrats came fourth with 13.8% of the vote.
The situation that caused the byelection was not an easy one for the Liberal Democrats and probably explains much of their decline.
Director of local charity Scrapstore, Mr King, who just missed out in 2009, is standing as an Independent again. Whilst describing himself as a moderate, Mr King is clearly on the centre-left left of the political spectrum, stating in his profile: "People before Profit and Practical Policies before Party Politics."
He will be hoping that his opposition to both the national and county hall administrations will pay off this time. He was fairly soundly beaten by Mrs Double in the byelection but a bigger turnout, as well as establishing himself as the main candidate to beat the Tories would help him.
The Liberal Democrats are fielding Eileen Rix who will be hoping that the Liberal Democrat voters will stick with her and that the Independent voters will split between Cllr Polmounter and Mr Rix, to allow her through to win. This will be hindered by Labour's Paul Roberts, who will think his pushing the Lib Dems into fourth place in the town council byelection will allow him to push for a much improved Labour vote this time, especially with the seeming implosion of the local Liberal Democrats. His aim must be to get close to 20% of the vote.
For Cllr Polmounter, who resigned from the Liberal Democrats last month, this will be a tough campaign but she has shown her ability to win as an Independent in the past. Having said that, this is going to be a very tough fight between Mrs Double, Mr King and Cllr Polmounter and, with a reinvigorated Labour party, this seat could be won on a very low share of the vote.
Prediction: Too close to call, but the Lib Dems will lose it and Labour won't win it. Mr King as slight favourite.
Bugle itself is a village in central Cornwall. It is in the parish of Treverbyn and is situated about five miles north of St Austell on the A391 road. There are plans to build a new neighbourhood on the site of the Goonbarrow Refinery west of the village as part of the St Austell and Clay Country Eco-town. This would include 450-550 homes. With the boundary changes, Luxulyan parish was brought entirely into this division. The village lies four miles northeast of St Austell and six miles south of Bodmin The population of the parish was 1,371 in the 2001 census. A report published in February of this year showd rates of child deprivation in the (Luxuylan and) Bugle ward are the highest in mid and south east Cornwall with more than a quarter — 27 per cent — of children living in poverty.
The 2009 Bugle Division was won by the Liberal Democrat's candidate, Jackie Bull, now transferred to be candidate in the Poltair division of St Austell. A changed division, it was then a safe win for the Liberal Democrats with the Conservatives in second place with less than half of the Lib Dem vote, just ahead of Mebyon Kernow.
This time, the Liberal Democrat candidate is Simon Rix who campaigns against the Council's decision to implement Council Tax cuts effecting the poorest households, but will face accusations of being part of a party which supports the government which has enforced these types of cuts nationally.
For the Conservatives, Rachel Beadle will be carrying what will probably be a forlorn banner; their candidate in Roche division in 2009, where she finished a distant third, the make up of this area is not good for the Tories which, even in a good year for them in 2009, still had them a long way off the pace.
The challengers to Mr Rix are this time more likely to come from the other candidates. Standing for Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall is Jerry Jeffries, a first time candidate who is teacher in the Cornish Language Partnership (Maga). MK have done well in this area in the past, with Matthew Luke having been elected as a district councillor in Treverbyn ward in 2007. Mr Jeffries will be disappointed not to eat into the Lib dem vote and come at least a good second, with over thirty percent of the vote, I think it'll be difficult for him though as he is not the only horse in the field here.
For Labour and Co-op, perennial candidate and town councillor David Doyle is standing again. It is in areas like this that Labour's commitment to social change and improving the lot of the poorest should have the highest resonance, but the Lib Dems have, as in most of Cornwall, side-lined Labour over the years. He will surely improve on Labour's disastrous 5.8% last time when the party was at its lowest, the question is whether he can get the vote back to the 18.5% he achieved in 2005 (when the county and General Elections were on the same day). An active member of the South West Co-operative party, Mr Doyle's political commitment to the area cannot be doubted but it has to be said that Labour must do well here.
Making up the field is Independent candidate, Steve Hopper, who will be trying to revive the independent vote base that previously had some strength in the area.
This should be a shoo-in for Mr Rix and the Liberal Democrats but I get the feeling that he will see a big cut in his vote share and majority and it will not be the Tories benefiting.
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold
Par and St Blazey Gate
Par is a town and fishing port with a harbour on the south coast of Cornwall, pop: 1,400, 3 1/2 miles east of St Austell. Until 2007, china clay was still dried in, and shipped, from Par. There are plans to re-develop the docks as part of the St Austell and Clay Country Eco-town. This would include a new marina and 500-700 homes. St Blazey Gate is a small settlement is St Blazey civil parish, which grew up around a tollgate (hence the name).
Standing for the Liberal Democrats is St Blaise town councillor, Douglas Scrafton, who chairs the Par Bay Big Local group which was given £1 million over ten years to spend on local community projects. He has high local visibility and will be hoping to be able to harness that in his campaign.
For the Conservatives, Richard Pears, a local parish councillor, is hoping to represent the Division in County Hall.
Independent candidate, Alison Watkins was planning to stand in the St Austell, Bethel town council by election last December, but withdrew. She owns Nature Kitchen Spice Shop and Deli in the town.
She initiated St Austell's first annual Spring Fayre and is working on many other events.
I have little local knowledge of the campaign in this area but, given recent history, it should be a Liberal Democrat seat.
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold.
Roche is a civil parish and village in mid-Cornwall. The village gets its name from a granite outcrop east of the village. The whle of the Parish is now included in the Division.
Easily gained by Independent John Wood from the Liberal Democrats in 2009, Councillor Wood returns to defend this division. A former district councillor, Mr Wood has a long history of representing this area. He leads the Independent Group at County Hall and is the Member Champion (whatever that is) for Eco-Towns. Former County Councillor Brian Higman (1999 - 2009) returns to try and regain this seat, but this time as a Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall candidate, having parted company with the Liberal Democrats in 2010. Surprisingly (well, maybe not when you see how politics seems to work in Cornwall), the Liberal Democrats are not putting up a candidate this year. This should make for an interesting campaign, not least as it appears to be the first time that MK-PC has run a candidate here.
The Conservative candidate, Derek Walker, should just be happy to improve on the fairly dismal record his party has here.
With no other candidates, it should be a two-horse race and, given unhappiness with the Conservative/Independent coalition in County Hall, former district councillor and Mayor of Restormel borough (1994-1995) Mr Higman will be hoping to return to Truro. Councillor Wood will hope that the novelty of MK-PC standing might be a turn-off for many and that both his history of service and a squeeze on the Conservatives will allow him to hold on. It seems that the Lib Dems may have stood aside for Mr Higman as part of a 'decapitation' strategy and it might just pay off.
Prediction: Independent hold - but with a much reduced majority and with MK-PC second.
Based on the St Blaise Civil Parish, the town was once dominated by the local mining industries and their associated transport infrastructure. Historically copper and tin were mined in and around the parish, whilst more recently china clay has been the principal commodity mined. "The Par & St Blazey Consols" or "South Prideaux Wood" was a small tin mine just north of the town and Par Consols Mine lies to the south west
The Eden Project lies within this division and tourism is very important. Boundary changes bring in Tywardreath Highway, Kilhallon, Penpillick and Porcupine. A recent report found the level of child poverty in this division to be 25%.
The Liberal Democrat, Roy Taylor, comfortably held this seat in 2009 with almost double the Conservatives share of the vote. A former district councillor, Councillor Taylor was first elected to the old County Council in 1985 for Bodmin until he, having moved to Par (where he and his wife run a B&B), was elected to the Restormal Council in 1996.
The Conservative candidate is Peter Sinclair whom I think was once the St Austell and Newquay Conservative Constituency Party Chairman. I think that he is unlikely to gain the seat but will be keen to hold on to a decent second place. Challenging him here will be Labour's Stuart Wheeler who will be hoping to to overhaul the Conservatives for a decent second place. In 2009, Labour managed a decent vote with 16.4% gained by
Liam Bellamy is running as an Independent candidate, he returned to St Austell four years ago after 20 years working overseas. Since then he has worked as a teacher and in the meat industry, experiencing the economic downturn first hand.
Liam coaches several rugby teams including boys and girls teams at St Austell RFC as well as being on its Executive Committee. I am not sure how well he will do, although an Independent candidate managed to take managed to take 23% of the vote in 2005. Who will he take his votes from?
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold with reduced vote share, Labour to take second place (maybe; probably not).
St Columb Major
A civil parish and town, often referred to locally as St Columb, it is situated approximately seven miles southwest of Wadebridge and six miles ) east of Newquay. The designation Major distinguishes it from the smaller settlement and parish of St Columb Minor on the coast. A population of around 4,000 in 2001. St Columb is situated in mid-Cornwall, about 5 miles inland from the north coast. The Pall Corporation (filtration and separation technology) employs 300 people in St Columb.
This was one of those seats won with less than a third of the vote with Independent Pat Harvey seeing off another Independent Paul Wills with an apparently comfortable majority of 129 - this was because of the vote spread. Councillor Harvey, the Chairman of Cornwall Council, was a district councillor for St Columb and joined the Unitary Authority in 2009.
The Conservatives have selected John Bell to challenge her and he will be hoping to close the 10% gap from the last elections although, with their being no other Independent candidate this year, it'll be open to question where those votes go.
The Liberal Democrats, who came fourth in 2009, have nominated local town councillor Alvin Augustus Martin (the middle name distinguishes him from the former West Ham player). The Liberal Democrats haven't really run candidates in major council elections in the area until last time and Mr Martin will hope to appeal to those who voted for the Independent, Mr Wills, last time. The Labour candidate on this occasion is Debbie Hopkins, who must hope to improve on only 3.6% of the vote last time.
I can't see Cllr Harvey losing her seat.
Prediction: Independent hold
St Dennis and Nanpean
St Dennis is a civil parish and village The village is situated between Newquay and St Austell.
St Dennis had a population of 2,696 in the 2001 census. A quarter of the male population was, at the time, employed in the extraction of china clay. Nanpean is a village in the civil parish of St Stephen-in-Brannel, approximately four miles northwest of St Austell in the heart of 'clay country', the china clay quarrying area of mid-Cornwall. The division also includes Treviscoe, Little Treviscoe, Step-a-Side, Hill Head and a few other areas. The only change since 2009 is that Nanpean has been added to the title.
A big issue here concerns the proposed siting of an incinerator which is being vigorously opposed, not least by all the local Cornwall Councillors.
Defending the division is lifelong resident and County Councillor, Fred Greenslade, an Independent who originally sat as a borough councillor for the old Rock ward as a Liberal Democrat. Involved in the China Clay industry for a number of years.
Standing against him is former Liberal Democrat borough councillor, Kim Wonnacott, who represented the old St Stephen ward. This time, dog-groomer Ms Wonnacott has cast aside the Liberal Democrat appellation and is also standing as an Independent. A St Stephen-in-Brannel parish councillor, it is hard to say how likely it is that Ms Wonnacott will challenge Cllr Greenslade, whose near 72% share of the vote in 2009 was very impressive. The Liberal Democrats are not standing a candidate this time and she may gain votes from here but I don't see much hope for her.
The Conservatives have Barbara Hannan as their candidate but given that they only managed 12% of the vote in a good year, I can't see them being much of a threat.
Prediction: Independent Greenslade hold
The village of St Enoder is 5 miles southeast of Newquay.
It would be tempting just to put my prediction in here to save time. Mebyon Kernow-Party in Cornwall leader Councillor Dick Cole will not lose this ward. The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have not even bothered to put up candidates this time so the only challenge comes from an Independent candidate, Elizabeth Hawken, who stood in the borough elections of 2003, coming third, and in the 2005 elections for the old County Council, coming fourth with another Independent winning. When Councillor Cole stands, he wins, and has built up his vote strongly over the years since he was first elected to the borough council, achieving 77.6%. I congratulate Ms Hawken for standing as elections should be contested. It will be an achievement if she can get anywhere near thirty percent of the vote.
Prediction: Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall hold (and how).
St Mawgan and Colan
St Mawgan is a village and civil parish 4 miles northeast of Newquay, Colan is a village and civil parish approximately three miles east of Newquay, it has a population of 1,176 (ish). It is a beautiful area where tourism is very important. The hamlets of Bosoughan, Chapel, Gwills, Kestle Mill, Lane, Mountjoy, Quintrell Downs, Trebarber and Trencreek are in the parish.
Conservative John Fitter comfortably won the seat (then named Colan and Mawgan) in 2009 with 53% of the vote, beating both an Independent and a Liberal Democrat. This time, Councillor Fitter is in a two horse race with Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall candidate, Rob Poole. With his vote share likely to fall with the Conservatives unpopular nationally, Cllr Fitter could face a bit of a fight, although it seems a hard task for Mr Poole, starting from nowhere, to win. As it adjoins the St Enoder division of Cllr Cole (see above), it is possible that a lot of help will being seeping across the boundary for Mr Poole and we shall have to see how successful it will prove to be.
Prediction: Conservative hold (or a shock is in the offing)
St Mewan is a civil parish and village, approximately one mile west of St Austell. The village is a small settlement. St Mewan parish includes the villages of Sticker, Trelowth, Trewoon, and most of Polgooth. it has a population estimated to be over 3,000.
St Mewan is one of the better-off areas of this part of Cornwall with only 7% of children said to be in poverty by a recent report (to many of us, that is still too high). As we have seen with many divisions in rthe St Austell area, this division was closley fought and won, narrowly, by Liberal Democrat Robin Teverson (Baron Teverson, of Tregony in the County of Cornwall). An active member of the House of Lords and frontbench spokesman for the Lib Dems, he is replaced as candidate this time Janet Lockyer. Only losing by 38 votes last time, the Conservatives will be targeting this seat with their candidate John Kneller, a local parish councillor.
There is an Independent hopeful here by the name of Malcolm Harris, who currently runs a successful local catering company. Part of his campaign is to ask questions about the scale and location of the proposed green-field shopping centre at Coyte Farm. Last time, an Independent candidate took 25% of the vote and this must give Mr Harris hope of pulling off a surprise.
Always a fairly close-run battle between the Lib Dems and Conservatives, which the Lib Dems normally win, it is possible that the success of the Independent campaign of Mr Harris that will decide things.
Prediction: Too close to call, Lib Dems slight favourite.
Tintagel itself is on the Atlantic Coast of Cornwall, with the civil parish spreading out from there. In 2001, the population of the parish was 1,820. The nearby Tintagel Castle is connected with the Arthurian myth and, small as the village is, it is one of the most visited places in Britain.
In 2009, the division was won quite comfortably by the Liberal Democrat, Glenton Brown. His closest challenger was Independent, Anthony Brewer, with the Conservatives trailing in third place. This time Councillor Brown is facing a Conservative candidate, Paul Charlesworth, and a UKIP candidate, Susan Bowen. Except, Susan Bowen has been completely disowned by the party as they have discovered she was, fairly recently, a member of the BNP, which is specifically banned by UKIP. She is not now campaigning although her name is still on the ballot paper. Ms Bowen only joined UKIP at the end of March and was allowed to become a candidate within a week or so - this is a weakness for a party wishing to capitalise on its popularity but not having the membership to do so.
This should encourage Mr Charlesworth but he lives quite a distance from the area and this might count against him.
All in all, Cllr Brown is probably safely home but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people vote UKIP on the basis of a protest, no matter the non-campaigning Ms Bowen's views (or, in some cases, because of them).
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold
St Stephen-in-Brannel civil parish and village in central Cornwall, it is four miles west of St Austell on the southern edge of Cornwall's china clay district. Uranium was also mined in this area.
Long-standing district and Cornwall Councillor Des Curnow is standing again and if facing only one challenger in the shape of Keith Hickman of UKIP, the chairman of the St Austell and Newquay constituency party. Whilst I know Cllr Curnow is popular, I am very surprised that none of the parties have chosen to stand candidates here. Whilst Labour did disastrously (3.4%) in 2009, it has had a strong vote in this area in the past and I wonder why the Conservatives would give UKIP a clear run. The answer may well lie in the kind of councillor Mr Curnow is, as he has shown his independence of the ruling coalition (of which he is a member) on several issues and, given that he was one of those who nominated Cllr Cole as the Mebyon Kernow candidate for the last general election, his views probably lie more to the left than the right. he is one of the 'China Clay' area Councillors campaigning against the proposed incinerator in St Dennis.
I am sure Mr Hickman will campaign hard, and has been candidate since November of 2011, but I cannot see Cllr Curnow losing.
Prediction: Independent hold.
A beautiful area, Lostwithiel includes the civil parish and it's village at the head of the River Fowey estuary. The 2001 census found it had a population of 2,739. It is the home of Restormel Castle.
In 2009, this seat was snatched by the Conservative (Peter) Gavin Shakerley who won the seat, with only 30.7% of the vote due to there being 5 other candidates. The majority of 121 tells a lie of comfort in terms of victory which means that Councillor Shakerley has decided enough is enough and is not defending this seat.
Standing in his place for the Conservatives is the wonderfully named Benedicte Poula Gwyneth Bay.
An Independent candidate, Graham Jarrett, is hoping to repeat the usual victory for Independents in this seat. It is possible that presence of two Independents in 2009 cost them the seat and the combined vote share was 37.7% (whilst I accept that they wouldn't have shared all votes, many would have transferred).
The Liberal Democrats have never done well enough to win here and I cannot see that changing, although Mrs Marian Oldor Candy (I love the names around here) will do her best.
The dark horse is Nigel Andrew Challis, running for UKIP. He may well appeal to the independently-minded and will not help Ms Bay's hopes, slim as they are, of holding the seat. Could he come through the middle and win? I very much doubt it and see this seat returning to its Independent status.
Prediction: Independent gain.
Newquay, is civil parish, seaside resort and fishing port on the North Atlantic coast of Cornwall approximately 20 miles west of Bodmin and 12 miles north of Truro. The town is bounded to the west by the River Gannel and its associated salt marsh, and to the east by the Porth Valley. Newquay has been expanding inland (south) since it was founded. In 2001, the census recorded a permanent population of 19,562. Big tourism industry.
This was a remarkable result last time as the Liberal Democrat's Geoff Brown managed to to win whilst gaining only 28.8% of the vote but still managing to well-beat the second placed Conservative, Andy Hannan, by 54 votes. Three Independent candidates managed to accrue between them 43.8% of the vote and this is probably what saved Councillor Brown, who was a district councillor in this area before the Unitary authority was set up. At one time the Liberal Democrats were quite confident here and Cllr Brown will hope to show that again but he is now facing a single candidate, Steven Slade, who is standing as an Independent.
Mr Slade is making wide use of social media to get his message across and is, in effect, an Green candidate as he recently joined the party. This is not to suggest he won't be independent when elected. He has just joined the town council after he was elected without contest. He has a BSc Hons in Ecology and has run his own businesses since 1991, in wildlife garden design, renovations and the supply of pub quizzes(!).
Councillor Brown should have a much better campaign than Mr Slade but he will need to watch out for the temptation to vote against a political party.
Part of me believes that a good campaign by the Independent will easily win this seat, but the other part questions how much of a campaign team and strategy he has. So, with a certain amount of reluctance to make a choice, I give it to Councillor Brown.
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold
After a few minor boundary changes, Newquay Pentire is another two horse race, this time between the sitting Councillor, Joanna Kenny, and the Conservative candidate, Lyndon Spencer Harrison. At the last elections, Cllr Kenny, a former district councillor in the old Gannel ward, beat off strong challenges from the Conservatives and Independent district councillor, Denis Dent, who was also the sitting County Councillor. A ward where Independents have always done well, it'll be interesting to see where the vote goes as, if it breaks for the Conservative, Cllr Kenny will be in trouble as she only managed to take 36.3% of the vote last time. With no Labour (who did shockingly last time with 2.8% of the vote) or English Democrat (7.6%)candidates, it will be the campaign that decides whose vote is appealed to the most - will the EDP vote go to the Tories, or not come out to vote?
Chairman of Newquay Chamber of Commerce, Newquay Association of Licensed Premises, Mr Harrison has a high profile locally and had a massive fallout with the Liberal Democrats which led to him resigning and forcing a by election. Mr Harrison lost to the Liberal Democrat with 405 votes to 591. Mr Harrison chairs Streetsafe, a project in which a portable building offers first aid facilities and a safe refuge for night-time revellers and local businesses.
In a wider race, Mr Harrison might well win, but I cannot see that he can do enough to defeat Councillor Kenny.
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold
Another division won on a small plurality of 33.6% of the vote, Liberal Democrat Councillor George Edwards is not defending the seat this year, standing instead in Tretherras division. In his place is town councillor Dave Sleeman, who won a bitter byelection campaign against Conservative Lance Harrison (see above in Pentire). With neither the independent Norman Thompson (who picked up a very healthy 27.1% of the vote in 2009) nor the BNP (10.5%), the question is where their votes will go? In the case of the BNP voters, evidence suggests it won't go anywhere at all in this race and will stay at home.
The Conservative candidate is Kevin Towill, who stood at the last election, losing by 47 votes. He will surely hope to pick up votes from the Independents and this may be a close battle. Mr Towill is a town councillor and this year's Mayor of Newquay (at 33 years old, the youngest in the town's history).
Prediction: Liberal Democrat hold
This is a battle with two defenders in that Councillor George Edward (Lib Dem, Trellogan) is challenging Councillor Patrick Lambshead (Con, Tretherra). This reflects some of the boundary changes in the area. On the basis of the results last time, the actual councillor defending is Cllr Lambshead. It was not a good year for the Liberal Democrats and Cllr Edwards will be hoping to take advantage of some recovery, assisted by the appearance in the race of a UKIP candidate, Doris Latham.
A town council by election took place in the general area of this ward in August of 2011, which was won by the Conservative by 56 votes over the Lib Dem in a straight fight. It wasn't a particularly high turnout and perhaps tells us nothing beyond that history shows close races in this ward. Last time, in the old division, former mayor Cllr Lambshead was assisted by the presence of three Independent candidates who polled 41% of the vote; whilst Cllr Lambshead got more than that combined vote, it may have been unhappiness with the lack of a single independent that helped him. The Liberal Democrats did very badly last time (14.8%), but Cllr Edwards will doubtless do better. A Trustee of a charity to preserve the historic Trenance Cottages in Newquay, Cllr Edwards has a high profile. I think that UKIP may well pick up some of the traditional independent votes and also Conservative votes. A former RAF gymnast, Cllr Lambshead may need to show some of that skill to get over the winning line this time.
Prediction: Conservative hold - just!
Another victory by a small vote total, Independent candidate Harry Heywood took the winner's rosette with only 31.2% of the vote, a majority of 28 over the Conservatives and 55 votes over the Liberal Democrats. Councillor Heywood is not defending the seat this year. A borough councillor for many years, Councillor Heywood seems to have decided to call it a day. This division encompasses most of the old Rialton borough ward.
Fighting to take this seat is town councillor, and last year's mayor, Andy Hannan for the Conservatives; the probable favourite to begin with as much of Councillor Heywood's vote used to go to Conservative candidates in the old three-member ward.
Returning from the last election is the Liberal Democrat candidate, deputy mayor Sandy Carter, who came a close third last time. Mr Carter has an unfortunate habit of just missing out on election and I feel that he is going to be unlucky this time.
It might be thought the entrance of a UKIP candidate would help Mr Carter and hinder Mr Hannan; polls show this to be true but whether that is enough to offset the votes Mr Hannan will likely pick up from the exit of Cllr Heywood is another matter. The UKIP candidate is Mark Hicks, about whom I have struggled to discover anything.
Labour have their only candidate in the Newquay seats in Treviglas, Joan Bowden. I am pretty sure this is the same Lillian Joan Bowden who stood for Labour in Newquay Central. The people of Cornwall seem to mirror the Irish tradition (with which I am much more familiar) of going by their middle names. She managed just 41 votes and 5.7% of the vote in Central, but Labour didn't even have a candidate here last time. The main fund raiser for the St Austell and Newquay Labour Party, Ms Bowden shows a dedication to the cause. Labour will probably do well enough to feel some satisfaction this year but not likely to come close to victory.
With the Greens not standing this year, Mr Carter will also be hoping to pick up these votes but won't be too pleased with a Labour candidate in the race.
All things taken into account, I am just going to give it to Mr Hannan.
Prediction: Conservative gain -just.