There is a ‘vacancy’ in Blacon Ward (Chester) to replace outgoing Cllr Reggie Jones (Labour) who has by his words and actions been on the side of anti-fracking.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has 75 elected members representing 46 wards.
• 37 Labour Group Councillors
• 36 Conservative Group Councillors
• 1 Independent Councillor
• 1 Vacancy – Blacon Ward
Despite the outcome in Lancashire (where local democracy has been overruled by central government), having a local council with a majority against fracking, still has to be the best way forward. It has been a close call in terms of the make-up of CWAC councillors and their attitude to fracking, so the views on this issue from the incoming councillor could be very important.
All candidates were written to and the following responses, with regard to unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction (aka fracking) were received:
- Ben Powell, Labour, writes that he has ‘very real concerns regarding fracking and its environmental and health impacts’. He supports the ‘Labour led authority’s recently introduced Supplementary Policy Document’ in relation to Unconventional Gas extraction as it means that ‘when drilling companies make substantial changes to existing planning applications, [a] new planning application must be submitted’ and that ‘all decisions [regarding fracking] will now have to be made by full council’. He also believes that sustainable energy production ‘can provide clean air, skilled jobs and a healthy secure future ‘. He says that ‘he will back the fight against any attempt to frack in the Cheshire West and Chester area’.
- Lizzie Jewkes, Liberal Democrat, writes that she is ‘not convinced the [fracking] process is safe’ and that having ‘worked in the water industry for many years [has] concerns regarding the potential to pollute ground water’. She is a ‘keen environmentalist’ and believes that ‘we need to move away from using fossil fuels and concentrate on renewable sources of energy’. She also says that she has ‘visited anti-fracking camps to offer her support’ and that she will ‘continue to oppose fracking in Cheshire’.
- Steve Ingram, Independent (formerly UKIP parliamentary candidate), writes that he admits the party he previously represented was in favour of unconventional oil and gas extraction but that he feels ‘the criteria for safeguarding the environment [re fracking] is insufficient’. He believes that ‘key issues affecting local communities such as ‘fracking’ and excessive development should be put directly to the residents by way of local referenda’. He has confirmed that he would not support unconventional oil and gas exploration in the CWAC area.
- Jack Jackson, Conservative, NO RESPONSE was received.
Let’s hope that the candidates (who replied) keep to their promises if elected.