Familiar names appear on ballot papers

ONE or two candidates seeking election to Suffolk councils have caught my eye.In the Holbrook seat in Babergh, Ipswich Town's retiring secretary David Rose is standing as an independent candidate.

ONE or two candidates seeking election to Suffolk councils have caught my eye.

In the Holbrook seat in Babergh, Ipswich Town's retiring secretary David Rose is standing as an independent candidate.

He's been nominated by retiring councillor Jack "Mr Holbrook" Godley – but what really caught my eye was his first seconder.

None other than fellow Holbrook resident James Hehir – who earns a crust as chief executive of Ipswich council.

Of course the two men know each other professionally – Mr Hehir is effectively Mr Rose's landlord as the borough owns the land that the Portman Road stadium is built on.

But the most interesting council candidate for my money is standing in Saxmundham in Suffolk Coastal.

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Trying to win one of two seats in this ward for the Conservatives is Edward Wild, who was the party's candidate in Ipswich in the 2001 general election.

At first sight this seemed like a bit a comedown for him – after all he made a good impression in Ipswich and seemed to be marked down for great things.

But the more I thought about this, the more I could see the thinking behind his decision – although it does involve considerable political risk for him.

"We live nearby and I'm thoroughly enjoying canvassing around the area – we're getting a tremendous reception in Saxmundham, Kelsale, and Theberton," he told me.

"It's different to fighting Ipswich, but I'm interested in trying to ensure Suffolk Coastal council remains one of the best," he said.

Mr Wild is a sharp cookie who's bought a house in Aldeburgh and got married in the town's church last year.

If – and it's a big if – he gets elected today on to Suffolk Coastal council, it's difficult to see him being kept off its cabinet if the Tories retain control at Woodbridge.

He'll then get the chance to show off his real political skills to the people of Suffolk Coastal.

And while John Gummer told me last year he will definitely fight the next general election, surely he wouldn't go on beyond the 2009/10 general election? By then he would be more than 70.

By then Mr Wild will be in his late 30s – and if he's built a solid reputation as a competent councillor surely Suffolk Coastal would be the ideal seat for him.

The only fly in the ointment to this scenario could come in tonight's count – Saxmundham is far from a shoe-in for the Conservatives.

It's a new seat created for this election, but last time the town itself was won by Labour's Kevin Welton and the two villages tagged on to it were won by the Liberal Democrat candidate, who is not standing again.

There are six candidates from the three major parties standing in the seat.

But there has been a history of Conservative success in the area, and Mr Wild is joined in the battle by former county councillor Sir Peter Batho.

This is one result I shall be following with interest tonight.

DON'T forget your e-vote! That's the call today from election officials at Ipswich concerned that not as many people as expected have voted online.

Almost 8,000 voters in the town applied for e-votes in this year's experiment in the town.

However by the middle of this week, less than 3,000 of these had actually voted – although the e-voting started last Thursday.

"We had expected most people would vote as soon as possible, but that hasn't happened," said a concerned council spokesman.

"It could be that many people didn't realise they could vote before official polling day – in which case things should be all right.

"But our worst fear is that some people will think just by registering for e-voting they think they have cast a vote – they haven't and they need to follow the instructions in the leaflets they've been sent."

So if you're still sitting on your voting form, get up and use it. Voting closes at 9pm tonight – but officials recommend you vote at by 8.30pm at the latest in case there is any technical delay in votes being transmitted.

It would be a real shame if the e-voting experiment, which seemed so successful when so many people applied to use it, turned into a damp squib at the final hurdle.

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