ANOTHER of the wards in which it is simply too close to call.
The seat was held by Conservative councillor and former deputy mayor Eddie Hardiman until the unfortunate events of “Winegate”.
There is no doubt that Eddie put in a lot of hard work on a number of issues in his ward. Whether there is residual good will that will transfer into votes for the new Tory candidate, Shane Hebb is a moot point.
Shane stood in Chadwell St Mary last year and impressed everyone with a maturity beyond his tender years. He seemed to have a grasp of local and national issues. He also campaigned tirelessly for Stephen Metcalfe and Jackie Doyle Price.
Shane’s chances may have been hurt by national issues but they may also be impeded by the presence of former Conservative, former Concerned Conservative and presently UKIP’s most recent convert Stuart St-Clair-Haslam.
For what it is worth, we like Stuart. We think his heart is in the right place. As a Conservative councillor he truly believed that there was something rotten in the state of Thurrock but even when you dip your toe in the water, the sharks might still get you.
We saw him striding down King Street at the weekend with his UKIP rosette. The bottom line is that he may well take Conservative votes away from Shane and that may let in the Labour candidate. The UKIP HQ is in the ward and he is helped by a number of former Thurrock Conservatives being seen in the UKIP engine room.
When you compare his shambling (and frankly embarrassing) performance at the final council meeting of the season with the zest and sincerity of Gemma and Shane you do wonder what Stuart and his merry band of disaffected Stanford Tories are thinking?
Labour candidate, Gemma Robbins is another of the 2011 bright young things. Former St Clere’s and Palmer’s student, Gemma is also refreshingly honest. She wouldn’t be able to tell us about the minutae of local government but instead can tell us about the broad strokes.
Gemma may not appreciate the “future Angela Smith” tag but has a lot of potential.
YT prediction: Conbs Hold: 25 maj
Chris Greenaway (Liberal Democrat)
Shane Hebb (Conservative)
Gemma Robbins (Labour)
Stuart St.Clair-Haslam (United Kingdom Independence Party)