Ward by Ward: West Thurrock and South Stifford

WEST Thurrock and South Stifford is one of the stranger wards in Thurrock. It is certainly one of the longest, stretching from the edge of Grays and all along to the Garrison estate in Purfleet.

This has now been a Labour ward for some time now. There was the "night of the paper candidates" in 2004 when three Conservative councillors were elected. After that, Labour got their momentum back.

One of the stronger trilogy of councillors were: Andy Smith, Oliver Gerrish and Victoria Holloway. Alas, Andy passed away recently and there is now the by-election on Thursday October 16th.

Since 2007, Lanour’s majority in the elections have been as follows:

2007:198

2008: 82

2010: 435

2011: 373

2012: 603

2014: 294

You may be drawn to the margin of the 603 vote victory in 2012 (Oliver Gerrish) that was reduced to 294 in 2014. The question is, whether UKIP can make enough in roads to pull back those 294 votes?

It was significant that UKIP were able to scorch the earth in Aveley, South Ockendon, Belhus and Stifford Clays. But they were not able to do the same all along the waters edge from Purfleet to Tilbury.

UKIP MEP believes they just needed another few weeks. Here, we are six months later and surely with the avalanche of publicity and momentum, they will get over that finishing line?

The Labour candidate is Terry Brookes. A traditional Labour candidate. A union man with a definite sense of fair play. He stood for the first time in Ockendon in 2014 and lost to UKIP.

The UKIP candidate is Russell Cherry. He has certainly been very visible in the ward and has been in the public gallery at the last council meeting. Apart from that, we don’t know much about him. However, they have a number of teams and there may be people you have never heard of such as Pete Smith and Gregg Morrish. But they have been very good at doing the hard yards.

What people must not underestimate is the level of organisation in UKIP. If they have Team 3 out in Purfleet on a Sunday morning and you don’t then do not be surprised if you lose on Thursday.

What may be significant is that in our interview with General Election candidate, Polly Billington, she seems to infer that unless UKIP win by 400 or more then it will be something of a phyrric victory for UKIP.

The Conservative candidate is John Rowles.

Whether for a constituency or a war, there is a world of difference between by-elections and real elections. For Labour, this will be a test for them: Can they get the people out who voted for Andy Smith? Can they get the growing numbers of ethnic minorities who may be more inclined to Labour than UKIP?

YT: Prediction: UKIP by 150.

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