LITTLE Thurrock Blackshots is solid Conservative territory. Is there any evidence that it will be overturned in 2014?
Councillor Ben Maney is defending the seat. In 2006, he polled 1081 votes, winning by an impressive 718 votes. In 2008, the winning margin went down to 456. Cllr Maney defended it again in 2010 and won by 558 votes. Although that was a General Election year (and so the turnout was higher), Labour gained over 800 votes which was quite impressive considering how unpopular they were nationally.
The Tories retained the seat in 2012 but this time by a relatively small 272 votes.
What makes this year interesting is that the Labour candidate is Leo Milan-Vega. Leo is a former Conservative councillor for Stifford Clays. Leo was a portfolio holder in the Tory cabinet for many years. He is one of a long list of former Conservatives who seems to have felt alienated from the Thurrock Conservative group.
Leo is a local man and very popular. A very hard working family man who a lot of people have come to admire and respect. However, the two Conservative councillors are very much embedded in the ward. They are always presenting petitions for local residents at council, always there to reflect the residents concerns re building on the green built, crime and the general well being of the area and always supporting small community groups.
Of course, there is always the UKIP factor. This always looked like a seat that one of the Broad brothers should have had a consistent long run at. If they had fought this year in and year out since 2009, this might have been the breakthrough year. This year, the candidate is Peter Smith who has been working very hard, week in and week out on the streets of Thurrock, getting the UKIP message out there.
However, perhaps with the big vote they are expected to gain on May 22nd, they may improve up their 280 seats in 2012 but enough to win? It could be the case of eating into the Tory vote and maybe enough for Leo to sneak in on the rails.
YT prediction: Cons hold: 85
Little Thurrock Blackshots
Claire Jones (Lib Dems)
Leo Milan-Vega (Lab)
Ben Maney (Cons)
Peter Smith (UKIP)