Candidates named for Pallion by-election to contest Paul Watson’s seat

Paul Watson next to the Vaux site in 2016.
Paul Watson next to the Vaux site in 2016.

Sunderland City Council bosses have unveiled the final list of candidates who will contest the seat left vacant by the death of former leader Coun Paul Watson.

A by-election for the Pallion ward is scheduled for Thursday, February 1.

Sunderland Civic Centre.

Sunderland Civic Centre.

Five candidates will vie to replace Coun Watson, who passed away in November.

They are:

Steven John Bewick, United Kingdom Independence Party.

Gordon Robert Chalk, Labour.

Craig John Hardy, Green.

Martin Haswell, Liberal Democrat.

Grant Shearer, Conservative.

The deadline for candidate nominations expired at 4pm yesterday.

Time to register for the vote is running out and anyone in the Pallion ward who has not yet registered to vote is urged to contact Electoral Services at Sunderland City Council on 0191 561 1144 or as soon as possible.

The closing date for registering to vote in this election is midnight on Tuesday, January 16.

In total, there are 7,327 registered voters in Pallion. Postal ballot packs for the ward’s 2,925 registered postal voters are being delivered by Royal Mail from Saturday, January 13.

Coun Paul Watson died aged 63, having been diagnosed with cancer last year.

The Pallion ward member, who was first elected 20 years ago and who had led Sunderland City Council since 2008, had managed to attend each council meeting during his illness and had paid tribute to NHS staff who helped him keep up his duties.

Family and friends were joined by the city’s three Labour MPs, political figures from across the region and Sunderland AFC legends Kevin Ball and Jimmy Montgomery for a funeral service at St Benet’s RC Church in Monkwearmouth.

Father Michael McCoy spoke of how Coun Watson’s family background and his early career in the shipyards of Sunderland had forged his commitment to politics and the city of Sunderland.

South Tyneside Council leader Coun Iain Malcolm delivered the eulogy and said: “Paul was at the heart of Sunderland and Sunderland was in his heart.”

A collection was held at the close of the service in aid of Sunderland Royal Hospital’s renal unit and its Phoenix Ward, which offers haematology services.