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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Local elections: East Midlands analysis
By John Hess
BBC political editor, East Midlands

Ballot box

There are just a handful of councils in the East Midlands with elections this June.

That was one of the key reasons why the region was initially selected for the postal ballot only election for the European elections.

Even though it looks rather thin, the municipal elections will be significant for some town halls.


Political control in this traditional Labour heartland is on a knife-edge.

The council's been run since last May's elections by an uneasy coalition of Lib-Dems and Conservatives. The current make-up is Lab 25, LD 13, Con 12 and one independent.

The recent death of the independent councillor has made the political arithmetic even more difficult.

Michael Howard targeted Derby during his first visit to the East Midlands since becoming Conservative leader. He launched the party's local election manifesto at Derby's Council House.

A third of the council's 51 seats are being contested. The marginal wards to watch are Mickleover, a straight fight between Lib Dem and Conservative; and Darley, which the Lib Dems snatched off Labour.

The Tory group leader Phil Hickson is facing re-election and should be very safe in suburban Allestree.

The British National Party for the first time is fielding candidates, although the exact number is unclear.

The party's been leafleting homes in the Arboretum ward. There's been a local row over a park statue of a boar in an area with a high Muslim population. (Last May, the BNP's candidate in neighbouring Long Eaton came bottom of the poll with a 7.9% share).

Tax worries

Homeowners in Derby face a 6.2% rise in their council tax this year.

The city's share was 4.9 per cent but the police precept was in double figures - higher than in previous years.

The council leader Maurice Burgess(Lib Dem) said he was "very proud that Derby is still the cheapest tax area in the East Midlands".

In last May's elections, Ron Allen - a campaigner against speed humps on the city's Boulton estate - was elected, beating the sitting Labour councillor by 10 votes. The humps were subsequently removed. Ron died in March.

There's no sign of similar single issue candidates standing this year.

But there's a head of steam over plans for a new £13 million media/arts centre in the city centre. Heart (Derby Heritage & Environmental Association for Residents and Traders) is campaigning against its proposed location.

Amber Valley

The largest district council in Derbyshire, Amber Valley is very mixed, taking in the former mining towns of Alfreton and Heanor, and parts of the Derbyshire Peak National Park.

Westminster reflects this contrast with Labour's Judy Mallaber (Amber Valley) and Conservative Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire).

At a parliamentary and district level, Amber Valley swings. A third of its councillors face re-election each year, and the Conservatives are in the driving seat at present.

After Labour domination since the Blair landslide, the Tories took control two years ago with a majority of seven.

Last May ,Labour took two seats off the Conservatives but this year, an Labour come-back is likely to falter.

The current make-up is Con 25,Lab 20. The average turn-out in Amber Valley last May was 31%. The BNP is also planning to field candidates here.


Little to watch out for here. Eleven seats are being contested in what is and will remain a very safe Labour city. The current make-up is Labour 27, Conservative six.

Lincoln's council tax was higher than average at 7.5 per cent. The city's hardly a looney-left run council, but one issue might excite the campaign.

The authority's to ban that required feature of any new campaign or PR event ¿the mass launch of balloons.

Councillors believe they are a hazard to birds and burst balloons just become a litter nuisance.


This north Nottinghamshire district also has a third of seats up for election.

Despite its reputation as a solid, traditional Labour heartland, Bassetlaw is changing politically.

The former Manton colliery in Worksop is to become a huge distribution centre for B&Q.

As the mines have gone, so has Labour dominance. The Conservatives have been chipping away.

The current make-up is Labour 25, Con 20, LD 1, Ind 2.

p> Bassetlaw's Labour MP John Mann has achieved several hits in getting regeneration and drugs treatment schemes piloted in the area.

The district's biggest secondary schools are to be rebuilt under a PFI scheme costing £120 million. At 2.9%,the district also boasts the lowest council tax increase in Nottinghamshire.

West Lindsey

This Lincolnshire district based on Gainsborough is notable for being one of the very few Labour-free zones in the East Midlands.

The current make-up is Con 18, LD 15, Ind 4. No party has overall control, although the current chairman is a Conservative.

Thirteen seats are being contested and the Tories would hope to make a break-through. One local issue in the campaign may be genetically modified crops.

This corner of Lincolnshire grows more GM crops than anywhere else in Britain.


It was recently described as a "go-go city" by the Regeneration minister Lord Rooker, making his first visit to Peterborough.

It's certainly earmarked for further substantial growth. The Conservative run authority unveiled a £750 million master pan to transform the city centre, and Peterborough is included in the government's London-Stansted- Cambridge growth corridor.

Pressure on housing and future expansion could be issues in the election.

All 57 seats are being contested because of boundary changes. The current make-up is Con 24. Lab 17. Lib Dem 4. Ind 7. Minorities Party 5.



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