Sunderland local elections 2019 preview
Voters will have the chance to back or sack their elected representatives when they head to the polls tomorrow (Thursday, May 2).
Polling stations open at 7am, with 26 councillors due to elected from Sunderland’s 25 electoral wards.
One of the main battlegrounds is expected to be Sandhill, where two seats on Sunderland City Council are up for grabs.
The Liberal Democrats seized the post from Labour in last year’s (2018) round of local elections.
But following a row over offensive social media post, their candidate, Lynn Appleby, was forced to sit ‘without party badge’ and in March decided to quit the council.
The seat of her party colleague, Coun Stephen O’Brien, is also being contested.
St Chad’s ward councillor and ex-mayor Stuart Porthouse had been expected to stand for re-election, but has been suspended from the Labour Party, pending investigation, after sharing an interview featuring ex-Labour MP George Galloway on social media.
Coun Phil Tye, chairman of the Sunderland Labour group, has previously confirmed Porthouse will be unable to stand as a Labour candidate until proceedings have been concluded.
In Washington South, voters will be guaranteed a new face in their council seat after incumbent Paul Middleton was removed from the council earlier this year following his conviction for a child sex offence.
This prompted one of the flagship policies in the election manifesto for the Sunderland branch of the Conservative Party, to consider a policy of criminal record checks for all serving councillors.
Councillors in five other wards are also due to step down without seeking re-election.
Mary Turton, in Copt Hill, has said she is quitting due to ill health, but has not ruled out a possible return to the city council in the future.
Redhill’s Richard Bell; Hendon’s Victoria O’Neil; Miles Elliott in Southwick and Karen Waters of St Anne’s ward are also not listed as candidates.
As well as disappearing acts, some old faces are also due to reappear.
Iain Kay, who was ousted from Millfield by the Liberal Democrats’ Andrew Wood last year is returning to fight Redhill.
And, after failing to field a single candidate last year, UKIP are also returning to the fray with a candidate in every ward.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service