THE COUNT for the 36 available seats on Stratford District Council has begun.
Residents went to the polls yesterday (Thursday) to cast their vote in the parliamentary, district and parish council elections and in the early hours of this morning, it was revealed Conservative candidate Nadhim Zahawi had retained his seat as Stratford’s MP with a majority of almost 23,000.
But the focus has now switched to the district council as following an electoral review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, the number of seats on the authority will be slashed from 53 to just 36.
Under the new boundaries, each ward will be represented by a single member – where previously in some cases there were two or three – with elections being held every four years.
More than 150 candidates have put their hat in the ring to contest the 36 seats – 41 of whom are existing councillors looking to either win back their seat or stand in another ward.
And with results scheduled to come in from noon onwards, our reporter Laura Maltby will be live at the count bringing you the latest.
One of the most hotly-anticipated battles will be for the new Shipston North seat where current council leader, Conservative Chris Saint, will take on Labour’s Jeff Kenner, who failed to beat Nadhim Zahawi in the race to become Stratford’s MP.
Lib Dem councillor and current Mayor, Ian Fradgley will take on Conservative councillor, Lynda Organ in the Bridgetown seat while Tory candidate Anne Parry is set to square up against Lib Dem David Johnston for the Wellesbourne East ward.
Former Mayor Keith Lloyd will be lining up against Tory candidate Tony Jefferson for the new Welcombe seat and Stratford First Independent councillor Juliet Short will take on Conservative cabinet member Maurice Howse in a bid to scoop the Avenue seat.
Coun Peter Oakley, who defected from the Tories at the beginning of the year, is one of 16 UKIP candidates vying to win a seat on the authority. He is hoping to reclaim the Tanworth-in-Arden ward where he will face Tory candidate, George Atkinson.
The Green party has 24 candidates lined up for the election while both the Labour and Conservative party will be contesting seats in every ward.
For all the latest news and results visit our website or follow us on Twitter @strat_observer.