On 7 May, Dartford voters will go to the polls to vote in a full set of Borough Elections. The present makeup of Dartford Borough Council by party is:
|Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents||3|
From this we can see that the Conservative administration at present has a significant majority.
No doubt there will be many issues brought up during the election campaign; the redevelopment of Lowfield Street; the state of the town centre; traffic issues will just be some of these.
It could be argued that the present Conservative controlled Council has been living off its past glories, such as Princes Park and there have certainly been several occasions recently where they have not fully delivered schemes.
I am sure they would have been hopeful that the redevelopment of Fairfield Pool would have been delivered in March 2015, just weeks before the scheduled election but this project is running at least eight months late and £3 million over budget. Other examples include the delay in construction of the Natural Theatre in Central Park and not implementing the full programme of proposals resulting from the Portas Project. On a positive note, the new cricket pavilion in Hesketh Park looks to be well on the way to being completed on time.
Dartford Labour have, to date, not come up with any real alternative proposals and in fact have actually provided very little ‘opposition’ to the present administration.
To take control of the Council, Labour would have to win at least ten more seats in May. Whilst they will be confident of gaining two seats in Newtown following the 2013 by-election and Kent County Council election, it is difficult to see where other gains may be made. At the recent by-election in Brent Ward, they failed to make significant inroads into the Conservative majority. It may also be that they will have difficulty in defending the seat they won by a single vote in the Swanscombe by-election in 2013.
It remains to be seen what impact UKIP will have at the Borough Elections. It is not clear if they will be putting up more than one candidate in each ward. If they did in fact call the recent by-elections in Brent and Littlebrook Wards, I suspect they may have been disappointed not to have achieved better results. If that level of support continues throughout the Borough, it is difficult to see them actually winning any seats on the next Borough Council.
In conclusion, I don’t expect Councillor Kite will have to clear his personal belongings from his desk in the Civic Centre on 6 May. The Conservatives should retain control of DBC comfortably, albeit with a slightly reduced majority.