ALL eyes will be on Stedham when nominations close for the Chichester District Council elections.
The question is whether popular district councillor John Cherry, who was forced to resign from the Tory party after alleged ‘racist’ comments, will be faced with serious Conservative opposition for the Stedham seat.
Cllr Cherry, who was also West Sussex county councillor for Stedham, made the comments about the controversial plan by the Durand Academy to open a weekly boarding school on the edge of Stedham.
The comments were reported just two weeks before the 2013 county council election, but UK electorial law meant he still had to stand as a Conservative candidate as the election process was already ‘locked’ and could not be changed.
In the event, Cllr Cherry lost his county council seat to newcomer, Independent Gordon McAra, already a district councillor for Midhurst
But Cllr Cherry has carried on representing Stedham, where there was much sympathy for his situation, on the district council as an Independent. He is expected to seek re-election.
And there is a growing tradition of Independent representation north of the Downs.
Gordon McAra has already announced his intention to stand again as an Independent at the district council election.
Alongside him will be a newcomer, Steve Morley. Together they will be hoping to secure both the Midhurst seats on the district council which will be up for grabs.
At Harting, long-standing Independent Andrew Shaxson is expected to be putting his name up for re-election without serious competition from any of the political parties.
Cllr Shaxson also represents the district council on the South Downs National Park Authority where he has found himself presiding over some controversial debates as chairman of the planning committee.
These include Celtique Energie’s application for exploratory oil drilling at Fernhurst and the Durand Academy’s proposal for weekly boarding school on the edge of Stedham.