The Tories are first out of the starting blocks and have named their candidates in the district council elections on May 7.
Two big guns – deputy council leader Paul Przyszlak and portfolio holder Howard Johnson – are absent from the list, but Coun Przyszlak is undecided about quitting and may yet stand.
The current make-up of the council is 25 Conservatives and 12 Independents but the status quo could be upset with UKIP set to mount its biggest ever challenge for district council seats.
Council Tory leader Gary Porter said the outcome is tough to call because it’s the first time in nearly 40 years that a General Election has been held on the same day as a district council election.
He said: “I have got to be at risk because I am leader of the council. The council has got a habit of non-returning leaders. It’s normal, isn’t it? To be fair I am pretty long serving for a leader as I’ve done 12 years now.”
UKIP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Independents will name candidates later this month – but there may be more Independents to add to the list who are not affiliated to the district council group led by Coun Angela Newton.
One big name, Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce president Phil Scarlett, will stand under his own non-political banner although he hasn’t decided which seat to contest.
Mr Scarlett, a parish councillor in Sutton Bridge, said: “It’s a district council election. It should not be about politics – it should be about individuals and the people in the ward.”
UKIP’s South Holland chairman Paul Foyster said on Monday: “We have candidates in all but six wards so far and we are still looking for more. “We have also got people in the vetting process.”
On Monday Mr Foyster said UKIP would release its candidates’ names in about ten days’ time.
Kathleen Tanner, for the Liberal Democrats, said on Monday her party would also be ready to publish the name of its candidates in about ten days’ time.
Labour Party member and seasoned candidate Rodney Sadd hasn’t yet thrown his hat into the ring but says Labour will have names to put forward.
Coun Newton said the Independents meet on February 24 to decide on candidates.
It was in 1979 – the year of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative landslide – that General and district elections were held on the same day.
Coun Porter wants to see all parties represented on the ballot paper so voters have as wide a choice as possible.
With the General Election wide open nationally, the district’s prospective Tory councillors may not be able to ride to power on Prime Minister David Cameron’s coat tails – although they will have a fair wind with a popular sitting Tory MP, John Hayes, who had a majority of 21,880 in 2010 on a turnout of 65 per cent.
Coun Porter wants voters to focus on the district council’s track record – things like cutting council tax every year for the last four years – rather than letting the national picture dictate the local outcome.
Crowland and Deeping St Nicholas ward councillor Paul Przyszlak said: “I am undecided at the moment. Gary (Porter) is trying to persuade me to stay, although last time out I said this will be my last one.”
His is a three-member ward and the Tories have so far put forward only two names.
Other Tory councillors not standing this time are Bob Creese (Whaplode and Holbeach St Johns) and Andrew Miller (Spalding St Paul’s).
Simon Booth, who represents Long Sutton, is the only Independent who has indicated he’s stepping down owing to pressure of work in his business.
Spalding businessman Harry Drury takes Coun Johnson’s place as a Conservative candidate in St Mary’s ward. He’s active in the Chamber of Commerce and organised the Give a Gift Campaign for children over the last two Christmases.
He said: “Having grown up in St Mary’s ward and attended the Spalding Grammar School, my roots are firmly set in South Holland and there is nothing more I would like than to actively be a part of the future of the district.”
We revealed in December that Tory “newbies” would include great-granny Shirley Giles and Vicky Hills who have campaigned against power stations planned for Sutton Bridge. Mrs Giles beat the council in the High Court, overturning planning consent given for a gas-fired power station there, and won her costs.
Laura Eldridge, who campaigned against a massive eco-homes development at Long Sutton’s Butterfly and Wildlife Park, will join fellow Tory and parish councillor Jack Tyrrell in a bid to claim two town seats from Independents.
Mrs Eldridge said she doesn’t have a background in politics, but she has “a passion for our area and a voice” she hopes to use so residents can express their views and “help to shape the future of the ward”.
Tory candidates put forward so far are listed below. (S) denotes a sitting councillor.
Crowland and Deeping St Nicholas: Angela Harrison (S), Jennie Head; Donington, Quadring and Gosberton: Robert Clark (S), Roger Neal; Fleet: Peter Coupland (S); Gedney: Joanne Reynolds; Holbeach Hurn: Nick Worth (S); Holbeach Town: Francis Biggadike (S), Tracey Carter, Rita Rudkin (S); Long Sutton: Jack Tyrrell, Laura Eldridge; Moulton, Weston and Cowbit: Anthony Casson (S), Rodney Grocock (S), Andrew Woolf (S); Pinchbeck and Surfleet: James Avery (S), Sally-Ann Slade (S), Elizabeth Sneath (S); Spalding Castle: Gary Taylor (S); Spalding Monkshouse: George Aley (S); Spalding St John’s: Jack McLean; Spalding St Mary’s: Gary Porter (S), Harry Drury; Spalding St Paul’s: David Ashby (S), Glynis Scalese; Spalding Wygate: Roger Gambba-Jones (S), Christine Lawton (S); Sutton Bridge: Vicky Hills, Shirley Giles; The Saints: Michael Seymour (S); Whaplode and Holbeach St Johns: Malcolm Chandler (S) and Michael Pullen.