Sunderland local elections: Who will get your vote in Hetton?

Candidates for Hetton in the local elections. Clockwise, from top left, James Blackburn, John Defty, Philip Dowell, David Geddis, Douglas Middlemiss.
Candidates for Hetton in the local elections. Clockwise, from top left, James Blackburn, John Defty, Philip Dowell, David Geddis, Douglas Middlemiss.

The countdown to the local elections on May 5 is well underway.

Today we profile the vandidates vying for your vote in the Hetton ward.

James Blackburn (Labour)

I’m delighted to again be the Labour candidate for the Hetton ward in the forthcoming local elections. I emphasise the word local because increasingly candidates are standing to represent communities they do not live in. Some even live outside the city.

On a more positive note, I am pleased to report that perseverance has finally paid off with our new comprehensive school nearing completion. It was cancelled when the coalition government abandoned Labours ‘Building schools for the future’ programme. However a well organised campaign eventually got the project restored. Well done to all involved.

Our other major pieces of civic infrastructure are doing well. Hetton Centre’s sporting profile continues to rise and its bar and function rooms have seen a big increased demand for weddings.

Hettons pool’s reputation for quality facilities attracts users from across the City.

Hetton and its surrounding communities has a lot going for it but anti-social behaviour, dumping and littering continue to spoil life for many.

Along with my Labour colleagues we will try to keep on top of things, in touch with the people and continue to make the case for Hetton.

John Defty (UKIP)

John has his own plumbing business and been an active campaigner for more than six years on local issues. He was elected to Hetton Town Council last year.

John has devoted almost 20 years of his spare time to Hetton Lyons Cricket Club, where he is Vice President.

He feels Hetton has been neglected by Sunderland City Council, as a result of the failure of Labour councillors to stand up for the town.

John says: “I am particularly concerned about derelict properties and unfinished projects and the way our green belt and fields are being eaten up by developers.

“If elected, I will speak up for Hetton in the Civic Centre and try to ensure Hetton receives its fair share of funding.”

Philip Dowell (LibDem)

It’s time to put communities back together. Liberal Democrats want to make it possible for local people to work together to run local services. That’s how to deliver what people actually want.

We need to have an open political system that is imaginative, that’s designed to listen to people and deliver what they need.

Local councils need active, interested and committed people to get involved and make a difference to the community. I live and work locally and am concerned about the Council’s attitude towards Hetton.

If elected, my task is to bring local issues to the attention of the council, and help it make decisions on behalf of the local community.

The diversity of local councils is their strength – we can’t afford to let Sunderland Council become a one-party state. That isn’t healthy for local democracy, and isn’t healthy for Hetton.

David Geddis (Independent)

As a former union branch secretary, a role I carried out for over 20 years, I will stand for the people ensuring they have representation at all levels, on all town and city related issues.

I have been a Hetton town councillor for the last 12 months raising and voicing the issues and concerns of the local residents at council level.

I was a lifelong Labour supporter, not anymore.

I like others have become really disillusioned with the existing city council who say they represent our town.

In place of helping to resolve the issues and concerns, some have become the issues and concerns.

It’s time to change that, We need new blood without political bias, how about concentrating on the people for a change. I can assure you if elected I will carry this forward to the city council.

Douglas Middlemiss (Conservative)

I am pleased to have been selected to stand again in Hetton.

Many people in 2015 said they were pleased to have an alternative to Labour.

People see the need for change or at least a strong opposition to keep pressure on the council.

One issue that has motivated me was the disgraceful mismanagement of Children’s Services in Sunderland.

The report into its failings brought shame to the city and having a commissioner imposed by the Government illustrates how bad the situation is.

There are too many councillors in Sunderland and I would campaign or a reduction. The hundreds of thousands saved would help protect basic services.

Building on green belt land must stop.

While I agree there is a need for more housing there is ample land classed as brown field that must be used.