St Albans county council elections could be closely fought race

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral - Credit: Archant

It could be down to the wire in several St Albans seats in the upcoming Herts council (HCC) elections.

All 78 HCC seats, including nine in the St Albans district, will be up for grabs on Thursday, May 4.

Several of them, The Colneys, Sandridge, and St Albans East, were decided by a few hundred votes at the last election.

Labour’s Dreda Gordon scraped a win in The Colneys, winning by just 209 votes. It has now been split into two seats.

Cllr Gordon, who is running in the new London Colney seat, said: “I can see it being a very close race, but it is difficult to say as it is a new seat.

“I am sure it will be close between us and the Conservatives, so I’m knocking on doors and speaking to lots of residents, both in London Colney and Highfield.”

Cllr Gordon is promoting her role in getting a crossing for Highfield Lane, and says she will be focusing on Hill End Lane if she is re-elected.

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She said: “Residents are complaining about the speed of traffic, and it is an issue I would like to address.”

Her closest competitor, Conservative councillor Mike Wakely, is campaigning on infrastructure and social care.

His man focus is the planned rail freight initiative.

Cllr Wakely, a civil engineer by trade, said: “One option is to send it further down to Junction 22 of the M25, which is sensible as there is a spare road bridge.”

He is also closely involved with a project to build an Eden-style structure at Radlett Airfield.

Of the project, Cllr Wakely said: “I am trying to come up with a couple of options to save the airfield.”

On the closeness of the race he said: “I do not know, it is down to the electorate. We have told them who we are and what we are going to do.”

Next door is the new Colney Heath and Marshalswick seat, which looks to be another closely-fought race, especially since there is no incumbent county councillor running in the seat.

Colney and Marshalswick was made from The Colneys and Sandridge, which was won by the Lib Dems by just 104 votes in 2013.

Liberal Democrat candidate John Hale, a Sandridge parish councillor, said: “I am expecting it to be a very close race.

“The party has been doing very well across the constituency and been winning more by-elections than any other party.

“The Lib Dems have a long record of getting things done. We have two district councillors in Colney Heath, and two out of the three in Marshalswick.

“We have long-term Tory Conservative voters saying they will support us. They have even told their Conservative candidate they will be backing us.”

Cllr Hale’s Conservative competitor, and fellow Sandridge councillor, Claudio Duran, said: “I am very positive, and quite confident of victory.”

Cllr Duran is campaigning on his experience as a social care professional, and as a father who put seven children through school.

“I feel we are gaining support as I have experience in those areas. We have been canvassing, and feel very confident the support is out there.”

He said he supported Anne Main’s campaign against dog poo, saying people are not aware their bags do not get cleaned up.

The only seat remaining from the last election is St Albans East, when 199 votes separated the Lib Dems from second-place Labour.

However, the Lib Dems will have no incumbency advantage to rely on, as the current councillor is standing down.

In his place is Ashley district councillor Anthony Rowlands, who said: “We are working as hard as we can.

“We are putting up posters. following up casework, so hopefully the electorate will appreciate that.

“I am not, and never will, be complacent. We have been out every day, finding out what needs to be followed up.”

Labour candidate John Paton said: “Recent events have showed us that making election predictions is a fool’s game.

On the response on the doorstep, he said: “The response is encouraging from our point of view. People are concerned at the state of local services, they are witnessing first hand the damage done by the Tory/Liberal coalition, and now the Tory government.

“We’re publicising our manifesto and focusing on the local issues that matter to people.”