Election coverage: we take a look at the Worcester City Council ward of Gorse Hill

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ON Thursday, May 22, the voters head to the polls to deliver their verdict on Worcester City Council. Our ward-by-ward coverage continues with a look at Gorse Hill.

ANYTHING other than a Labour victory would be a shock in Gorse Hill - such is the grip it has on the area.

The ward has a reputation for delivering huge Labour majorities year in, year out and with the party controlling the city council expectations are high that it will be victorious here once again.

It has two councillors, both of whom belong to Ed Miliband's party, and this year the challenge to continue the status quo falls to the current deputy leader of the city council, Geoff Williams.

Cllr Williams, well-known for his time as chairman of Worcester's planning committee, is also now the cabinet member for economic prosperity and holds a majority of 640 from four years ago.

One of the main political concerns in Gorse Hill is people's apparent reluctance to get involved in elections and cast a vote.

In 2012 the turnout was a dismal 24 per cent, and over the years it has rarely been any better.

It also has the distinction of being the only ward in Worcester where the far-right British National Party has made any headway - in 2008 candidate Lee Hancock finished third with 232 votes, just 11 less than the runner-up Conservatives.

That said, the BNP failed to put anyone forward two years ago, the last time Gorse Hill was contested, and with five parties looking for votes in the ward this time around any more progress seems unlikely.

The UK Independence Party will be hoping to make god ground here, and with the Tories and Greens putting up candidates too Gorse Hill could be far more interesting that usual.

Gorse Hill is among the most deprived wards in Worcester, but has provided a lot of genuinely good news over the last few years.

It has one of the best community centres anywhere in the city, and a thriving 'can do' spirit, often channelled through a special forum which helps divert fresh investment into worthy causes.

It was set up in 2009 with £500,000 of county council cash and has helped fund activities like summer clubs for school children, sports sessions and even advice on how to quit smoking.

Gorse Hill Primary is also on the political map, with education secretary Michael Gove visiting it back in January.

The NHS in Worcestershire decided last year to appoint 17 'community champions' to work with householders in Worcester to improve their health, and one of the main areas they focus on is Gorse Hill.

WHAT THE CANDIDATES HAVE TO SAY

ASHLEY BRADLEY (BNP)

I'm standing for the BNP in Gorse Hill because of the other parties backgrounds.

Labour are infested with war mongerer's, and we believe the Tories lied about our EU referendum.

The Lib Dems are pro EU, contrary to the British people's views. Ukip are not what they seem.

Green Party policies will put up your taxes.

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.

JOHN FRANCIS (UKIP)

I am 63 and spent most of my working life in building services. Governments have abused their power, giving billions around the world and to the EU. This is complete madness when we’re in debt.

Cameron cuts and sells and stands for the EU, and has no real interest in this country. He’s part of a disgraceful elite who are not interested in the people of this country.

The young have been let down, with little training or proper jobs, and the old were robbed of their pension by New Labour.

Nigel Farage has common sense ideas and policies. He answers questions, unlike politicians from other parties who evade and stall. I think Nigel Farage is our best and real chance of making Britain better, more quickly. His common-sense approach and down-to-earth manner, with his energy and drive is proving a vote winner for UKIP, the people’s party.

SIMON HARRISON (CON)

I believe that being a Councillor offers the opportunity to make a difference to the local community, by helping to shape, direct and monitor the services which affect local people’s lives.

The current Labour / Lib Dem and Green City 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.

If elected I will work hard on behalf of the residents of Gorse Hill; I will endeavour to look after their interests at all times.

JUSTIN KIRBY (GREEN)

I have lived in Worcester for five years and work locally for a national engineering firm as a systems accountant.

I am passionate about making communities more resilient because high oil prices, the economic crisis and climate change present Worcester with major problems in the future.

I’m trying to make Worcester a resilient city and believe we need to support local businesses, local jobs and grow food locally.

I believe that people should be employed on a living wage and that smaller local companies and cooperatives should be supported to create the social benefits of a thriving local jobs market.

I also believe high quality universal education is essential to our future.

Fuel itself is getting in shorter supply and since the huge government bail-out of the banks in 2008, so is the money to buy it.

This money should be used to run our hospitals, schools and public services.

GEOFF WILLIAMS (LAB)

Since first being elected to represent Gorse Hill Ward, I have always fought hard for the area and everyone who lives here.

I am pleased that there has been an increase in affordable housing in the area and that schemes to tackle youth unemployment are now underway, given fresh impetus by your Labour city council.

It is important for the council to do all that it can to support employers to provide more jobs, but we also need to do more to ensure that young people have the skills and qualifications they need to get a decent job.

As cabinet member for economic prosperity, this is a priority for me.

I am determined that Worcester will provide opportunities for everyone and that no community will be left behind, as has happened too often in the past under the Tories.

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