Two Tories quit Hunts council, triggering elections

MAY by-elections have been triggered by the resignations of two Conservative Huntingdonshire district councillors this week.

Chris Stephens, who has represented The Hemingfords since June 2004 and was chairman of the council’s corporate governance panel, has been ill for some time.

Mandy Thomas won the Eaton Socon seat in May 2008. Although she has not attended any HDC meetings for many months, she was allowed to keep her seat by virtue of having represented the council at a meeting of St Neots Town Initiative last December. Normally, six months’ continuous absence triggers the end of a councillor’s term of office.

Conservative Party agent Simon Burton said Ms Thomas had had “tremendous personal difficulties over the past three years”. In spite of her attendance record, she had kept on top of her constituency workload, he added.

The Tories will put up Roger Harrison in Eaton Socon on May 5, where he will be up against Liberal Democrat St Neots Town Councillor Julia Hayward and probably others.

In The Hemingfords, Alan Williams, currently chairman of Houghton & Wyton Parish Council, will represent the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are keeping the identity of their chosen candidate for the ward a secret for the time being, said party agent Martin Land.

The by-elections bring to a total of 22 the number of HDC seats to be contested on May 5. In addition to the scheduled ward elections, polls in Little Paxton and St Ives South wards have been triggered by significant boundary changes. Nominations close on April 4.