By-election date set after death of Houghton councillor

Councillor Kath Rolph
Councillor Kath Rolph
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CANDIDATES will battle it out for a seat vacated when a councillor lost her fight against cancer.

A seat in Houghton Ward on Sunderland City Council has been unrepresented since Kath Rolph died last year.

Ms Rolph, who was first elected to the seat in 2002, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2010, after she was first treated for the disease in 2004.

She died peacefully at the age of 59 in St Benedict’s Hospice on December 21.

Sunderland City Council now say that an election will be held on Thursday, May 2, to fill the seat.

Joan Carthy, chairman of Houghton and South Sunderland Constituency Labour Party, said: “Following the sad death of our friend and colleague Kath Rolph, Houghton and Sunderland South Constituency Labour Party believe it is appropriate to call a by election to fill the vacancy and give Houghton Ward electors full representation on the City Council.

“We are pleased the election will be held early in May, which is the traditional month for local elections.

“We urge all electors to use their vote at this election.”

Candidates from a number of parties are expected to announce their candidates for the seat in the coming days.

A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said: “Following publication of the notice that a vacancy exists in the Houghton electoral ward, a request to fill the vacancy has now been received from two electors.

“The city council is elected by a system of thirds with elections in three out of every four years, and these are normally held on the first Thursday of May.

“There are no scheduled elections this year, but in line with this precedent for local elections on a Thursday, an election to fill the Houghton ward vacancy is now timetabled for Thursday, May 2.”