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Election coverage: we take a look at Worcester City Council's Battenhall ward
On Thursday, May 22 the voters head to the polls to deliver their verdict on Worcester City Council. Here, our ward-by-ward election coverage kicks off with a look at Battenhall.
PASSIONS are running high in leafy Battenhall - a traditional Conservative stronghold where residents are fighting to preserve an iconic beauty spot from development.
The city council ward contains Middle Battenhall Farm, acres of greenfield off Red Hill Lane which Miller Homes wants to turn into 200 properties.
The saga has gained such notoriety it is bound to be an influencing factor in the elections, with more than 400 objections handed to the council's planners pleading for the site to stay as it is.
Another big issue in the ward is proposals for a Waitrose off London Road, with the store saying it wants to create 200 jobs by opening up on the now defunct Ebenezer Bayliss print works.
Battenhall is one of the most talked-about of all 12 wards in this year's elections because of an intense battle currently being played out between the Tories and the Green Party.
It has always been a staunchly Conservative area, but for the last two years the Greens have poured resources into door knocking to try and drum up support for a shock victory.
Two years ago the Greens won their first every city council seat when Councillor Neil Laurenson secured a surprise victory in St Stephen.
With that foothold secure, the party is focusing on grabbing another seat and is standing Louis Stephen, one its best known activists, in the ward.
With Tory Councillor David Tibbutt retiring, the task has fallen to retired policeman Steve McKay to try and retain it for the Conservatives.
Such was Cllr Tibbutt's popularity, he held it with 1,480 votes in 2010, with Labour getting just 689 in second place.
Mr McKay's challenge will be to hold onto the core of that support, and if he does another Tory victory is likely.
In recent weeks he has launched a petition against the Waitrose store, saying he feels it is the wrong location for it.
The great unknown is the impact UKIP could have in Battenhall, with campaigner Jackie Burnett standing for Nigel Farage's party.
UKIP has stayed well away from Battenhall in the past, so the measure of support it has in the ward is a mystery.
Labour and the BNP are also putting forward candidates, meaning there are five in total, one more than the last time this ward was contested in 2012.
Labour is the traditional 'runner up' in Battenhall but with more candidates this year, and a concerted Green Party effort that could change.
Why you should vote for me - what each candidate has to say
Jackie Burnett (UKIP)
UKIP's level headed, no-nonsense approach appeals to me and I feel that they are the only party who genuinely have the country's interests and future at heart.
To me UKIP is the party of the ordinary person - finally giving a voice to the put-upon majority.
I may not concur with every policy, I don't think that's possible in any sort of situation, but I feel drawn to the evident sincerity and fresh approach of UKIP. As a relatively new party, UKIP seem to be very aware of, and willing to address the concerns of the “man on the street”, but have not yet had the opportunity to show what we can do.
I hope that we may be given the chance to work for and with the local community and beyond.
Steve McKay (CON)
Having spent many months knocking on doors and speaking with people locally I feel I now have a good understanding of the issues of importance to those living in Battenhall.
Residents are keen to see local green spaces defended from unnecessary development, congestion and parking problems tackled and ensure that Battenhall remains a clean, safe and attractive area.
The current Labour/Lib Dem and Green council have put up council tax and parking charges and instigated severe cuts in important services like street cleansing, litter and dog bins and the money to maintain play areas.
None of this was necessary if they had followed sensible Conservative proposals to make the council more efficient.
I was a police officer for 30 years and have also worked in the private sector. I serve as a parish councillor and trustee of a local community centre.
Gaynor Pritchard (LAB)
Gaynor Pritchard is 53. She is married to Andy and has two grown up sons. Originally from Blaenau Gwent, Gaynor and her family have lived in Worcester for more than 12 years.
Gaynor has always worked in the caring professions.
She was the volunteer coordinator for a major national charity based in Worcester and is now working with another voluntary sector organisation locally.
She is also an active member of her local church and helps with a number of projects there.
Her work with people using voluntary services has shown Gaynor that one of the biggest challenges facing anyone who needs help is to know where to find it, and believes that councils could do more to provide easily accessible information.
Gaynor would fight hard to protect open spaces in Battenhall from development, and would actively work with local residents to enhance natural features like Duck Brook.
Louis Stephen (GREEN)
I have lived in Worcester for 17 years and work within the city as a senior engineering manager for a large international company.
I have two grown-up children who attended Nunnery Wood High School and the Sixth Form College.
I believe education is very important for young people and is part of the solution to high youth unemployment.
We need to ensure that we have enough affordable housing, but this should not be achieved by building on greenfield sites like Middle Battenhall Farm. We should instead be building on brownfield sites and encouraging more dwellings within the city centre, especially above shops in the High Street.
I am deeply worried for the many local residents, some quite elderly, living in the Camp Hill Road, and Battenhall Road area who have been asking what can be done to protect the 26/27 bus service.
The Green Party is committed to public transport.
Jennifer Whitwam (BNP)
I'm standing for the BNP in Battenhall because of the other parties backgrounds.
Labour are infested with bad people, and we believe the Tories lied about our EU referendum.
The Lib Dems are pro EU, which is contrary to the British people's views.
It only leaves the BNP to stand up for local people.
Vote for the other parties and you will get cheated by them.
Only the BNP will put British people first for jobs, housing and healthcare, opportunities.