Election coverage: we take a look at Worcester City Council's St Peter's ward

Queues leading up to the Ketch Island at Broomhall Way, Worcester

Queues leading up to the Ketch Island at Broomhall Way, Worcester

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

ON Thursday, May 22 voters go to the polls to deliver their verdict on Worcester City Council. Our ward-by-ward coverage continues with a look at St Peter's.

ST PETER'S is one of the safest Conservative wards in Worcester - a haven for the party even in difficult times.

Much like neighbouring Battenhall, year after year it returns Tory candidates to the Guildhall.

The last time it was contested in 2011 Councillor Roger Knight romped home with 1,203 votes, more than double the nearest challenge from Labour.

This year's count marks the end of an era, after veteran Conservative Aubrey Tarbuck was de-selected and subsequently decided to retire at the age of 83.

The party has enlisted candidate Mike Johnson to fill the void, who chairs the Friends of Power Park group.

That could make the contest more interesting than usual, as does the list of fellow high-profile candidates putting themselves forward.

The Green Party is standing Matthew Jenkins, who is already an elected politician after grabbing a seat at Worcestershire County Council last year.

In a bid to not be outflanked UKIP has recruited Brenda Wheeler, a well-known local figure who sits on St Peter's Parish Council, as their candidate.

Labour, which tends to be the main challenger, are also contesting the ward as are the Liberal Democrats.

The Lib Dems are only taking part in three ward ballots this year, meaning they see St Peter's as a fertile ground for votes.

Anything other than a Tory victory would be a serious shock, but all Labour eyes will be on their share on the vote with a general election only 12 months away.

The ward, which is leafy and packed with prosperity, is well known for its abundance of play areas and open spaces.

A major concern of residents is congestion from the nearby A4440 Southern Link Road, with is in line to be part-dualled over the next four years.

Work is also underway to double the size of the Ketch roundabout, off the A38, in an £8 million county council project that is not due to finish until April 2015.

It has sparked serious controversy as a large grassed bank protecting homes has been dug up, and trees felled along Broomhall Way.

It is one of only two parts of Worcester to have a parish council, which is playing an increasingly important role in the amenities of St Peter's.

All this means that whichever new councillor is elected to the city council, they can expect a busy in-tray.

* Your Worcester News has set up a section on its website which features all the candidates' profiles.

We will also be using it to provide a LIVE results service on May 22.

Visit worcesternews.co.uk/news/election2014/results

WHAT THE CANDIDATES HAVE TO SAY

RICHARD CARTER (LAB)

Richard Carter worked in local government for over 30 years: in children's services and, from 2003, as a senior manager for adult social care.

He has substantial knowledge of working with voluntary organisations and the NHS, and has personal experience of the NHS as a carer for elderly relatives.

He spent three years as an inspector for the Department of Health, assessing the performance of councils' social care services.

Richard is a governor at St Georges C of E Primary School, and a member of several local organisations including the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and the Worcester Industrial Archaeology and Local History Society.

In summer 2013, Richard graduated with a law degree from Worcester College of Technology.

Richard is married with three grown-up children. He and his wife attend St Peters Baptist Church.

He knows the St Peters community well and is excited about the opportunity to represent the area.

MATTHEW JENKINS (GREEN)

I live in Worcester with my wife Barbara and our two boys, Harrison, 11 years old, and Anton, 7 years old.

I have been running my own business for the past seven years, having previously worked at Kays.

I am currently a county councillor representing the St. Stephen division.

I am also an active member of Transition Worcester, with a particular interest in reducing fuel poverty through better energy efficiency measures such as home insulation.

For both economic and environmental reasons, we should support local businesses and local jobs, as well as using local resources as much as possible.

Council decisions should be based on long-term thinking, rather than short-term political gain.

I believe in giving the local community a far greater say in decisions made by the council, keeping them informed regularly throughout the year.

It is only by talking to residents and understanding the issues that concern them that we can reach workable solutions.

MIKE JOHNSON (CON)

I am a long time resident of St. Peters.

Since my retirement I have become more active in the locality, with particular interest in the Parish Council (Vice Chair), Worcester Civic Society, and protection and improvement of the landscape named by the children of Cherry Orchard School as Power Park (Chairman of the Friends).

This last role has taken up much of my time, with city and county councillor support, negotiating mitigating measures to combat the adverse impact on our environment of the Ketch Roundabout scheme and Broomhall Way carriageway dualling.

The city councillor role is I believe critical to enable local residents to have an effective voice in local decisions.

I believe that my career and voluntary work experiences, my commitment to the local area and my desire to do the best for St Peter's mean that I have the qualifications to speak on your behalf.

OLIVER ORR (LIB DEM)

Oliver has lived in Worcester for twelve years and is retired. He is looking forward to representing the people of St. Peter Parish on the City Council.

St Peter's is a pleasant neighbourhood with some facilities provided by the parish council.

Problems being faced by the residents include the work being done on altering the Ketch roundabout And how the area will be affected by the housing development proposals in the South Worcestershire Development Plan for the surrounding areas of Worcester.

My main areas of interests are health and social care, public transport and housing.

Apart from politics, I am also involved in volunteering for Worcester Housing and Benefits Advice Centre.

Other interests include listening to classical music and visiting churches. I have been married to Rosemary for 40 years and we have a son and three grandchildren.

BRENDA WHEELER (UKIP)

I am 64 years old, a wife, mother and grandmother. I have lived in St. Peters for 28 years, and ran my own DanceFit Class for nearly 10 years in the local Scout Hut. For 18 years I worked at Kays/White Arrow, and then for the Diocese of Worcester until retiring in 2009.

I formed “Action St. Peters” in protest at the unnecessarily large development proposed for south of the Link Road, and became a Parish Councillor in 2012 to continue this battle.

I believe that National Issues do impact upon Local Issues and our ‘open border’ membership of the EU and loss of sovereignty created problems such as housing, infrastructure, health and schools.

As your city councillor I would endeavour to minimize the impact of the SWDP on St. Peters, retain our remaining green spaces; keep our streets well-lit and safe; and encourage the completion of the Northern Link Road

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