FORMER Wyre Forest District Council leader John Campion will be one of eight Conservative councillors defending their seats at next month's local elections.
Voters will go to the polls on Thursday, May 22 and the names of those contesting the 14 seats up for grabs at Wyre Forest House have now been released.
Unlike previous years, those elected next month will have to face the voters again next year in a whole council election when the number of councillors on the authority is cut from 42 to 33. Wyre Forest will then continue to see a third of councillors go up for election in three of every four years.
Next month's elections have thrown up some intriguing contests and results are arguably less predictable than in recent years, with the Conservative Party having lost three councillors since the district council last held a vote in 2012. They are still the authority's biggest party with 18 members but do not hold an overall majority.
Mr Campion isn't the only cabinet member defending his seat, with Conservative Ian Hardiman standing in Habberley and Blakebrook. The council's vice chairman Conservative Daniel McCann will face the voters in Franche and Worcestershire County Council chairman Gordon Yarranton will stand for the Tories in Wribbenhall.
Former district chairman Conservative Stephen Clee will be hoping to keep hold of his Bewdley and Arley seat.
Two of the former Tories who switched parties are set to defend their seats under their new party banners for the first time - Independent John Aston in Aggborough and Spennells and Independent Community and Health Concern's Mike Salter in Mitton.
Councillor Howard Martin will face the district council electorate as a Labour candidate for the first time after being voted in under an ICHC ticket in Broadwaters in 2010. Conservative Rose Bishop stands in Offmore and Comberton as a Tory for the first time having switched allegiances from the Liberal Party since she was last elected.
The growing threat of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) may also have a few incumbents looking over their shoulders. After making an impact at last year's Worcestershire County Council elections, the party is contesting all 14 seats in this year's district council poll - including in Oldington and Foley Park where UKIP parliamentary spokesman Michael Wrench will hope to cause an upset against incumbent Tory Nicky Gale.
The only ward guaranteed to see a new face representing it after May 22 is Greenhill where current Liberal councillor Tim Ingham has stepped aside to let Rachel Lewis defend the seat for the party. Mr Ingham will face the Offmore and Comberton voters where the Liberals will be hoping to retake the seat they held before Mrs Bishop switched to the Tories.
ICHC, the council's second largest party with nine members, will be defending three of its seats.
Meanwhile, Bewdley Town Council will be the only parish council in the district to hold an election where councillors will be decided for Bewdley East, Bewdley West and Bewdley Wribbenhall.
The current make up of Wyre Forest District Council is:
Conservative - 18
Independent Community and Health Concern - 9
Labour - 8
Liberal and Independent - Liberal - 3
Liberal and Independent - Independent - 3
Independent - 1
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