The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) will hope to strengthen its hold on Haverhill in today’s (Thursday, January 9) by elections.
Seats are up for grabs for both St Edmundsbury Council and Haverhill Town Council that were filled by the late Les Ager, who passed away in October.
The Tories will hope to defend the borough seat though are not contesting the town one, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats are also vying for both seats.
Before last May’s county council elections UKIP had no presence in Haverhill, but seized two seats of the Conservatives as Tony Brown won the Haverhill East and Kedington seat and Julian Flood one of the two Haverhill Cangle seats. The borough’s only UKIP councillor represents Haverhill after Gordon Cox defected from the Tories.
Cllr Bryan Hawes also swapped from Tory to UKIP at town level, and following his resignation his seat was won by fellow UKIP man Barry Robbins.
Today Cllr Brown will hope to win the borough seat, while fruit and veg trader Paul Firman aims to win the town seat.
Former town mayor Pat Hanlon aims to join deputy mayor Maureen Byrne in becoming Haverhill’s second Labour borough councillor and only the party’s fourth member among the borough’s 45 councillors, while Liz Smith aims to join her fellow Labour members on the town council that it dominates.
Town Cllr David Roach hopes to secure a 36th borough seat for the Tories, while Ken Rolph aims to become the first Lib Dem at both town and borough level.
Voting is from 7am to 10pm with polling stations at the Chalkstone Community Centre in Strasbourgh Square, East Town Park in Coupals Road and the Haverhill Arts Centre in the High Street.
Counts will be taken tomorrow (Friday, January 10) morning.
The by election was triggered after Les Ager, who was twice mayor of Haverhill and in April was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to music in the town, died in his sleep on the night of October 23/24 aged 75 following a fight with leukaemia.
St Edmundsbury Council currently has 44 councillors – of those three are Labour, four are Independent and 35 are Conservative.
There is one UKIP councillor after Gordon Cox defected from the Tories and one Green councillor, but no Liberal Democrats.
Of Haverhill’s nine current borough councillors, seven are Tory, Maureen Byrne is Labour and Cllr Cox is UKIP.
Of the town council’s 15 councillors, nine are Labour, including the last three mayors, five are Tory and one is UKIP.
Log back onto this website tomorrow (Friday, January 10) to see the results of the election.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, January 9) Echo.