Nottingham

Bassetlaw council elections see UKIP challenge Labour dominance

Cottam power station in Retford Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Coal was a major employer in Bassetlaw and still has an impact with Cottam coal-fired power station near Retford

A dyed-in the wool Labour council is facing UKIP in every ward for the first time in Thursday's election.

Voters in Bassetlaw District Council take to the polls to elect a third of the north Nottinghamshire authority.

Labour currently has an overwhelming majority on the council but admitted its biggest fear is UKIP.

The Conservative group is hoping to increase its share and go someway to returning to its only period in power. The Lib Dems have six candidates.

Labour has controlled the council for decades apart from two brief periods in the 1970s and then again about eight years ago.

That was towards the end of Tony Blair's leadership when the party was unpopular nationally, even in the former coal-mining heartland of Bassetlaw.

The Conservatives enjoyed several years in power but in 2011 the council returned to red and this is the first election where it faces a serious challenge from UKIP.

"Our biggest worry is UKIP," councillor Griff Wynne said. "This is the first time they have entered candidates in every ward.

"They are targeting Labour seats for the first time and they are an unknown quantity."

Mr Wynne, deputy leader of the council, said the main issue though is to convince people to vote at all.

Former leader of the council and the Conservatives Mike Quigley is hoping to win back a seat after he lost two years ago.

"The problem with local politics is that people tend to be driven on what's happening nationally," he said.

"We took control when Labour was doing pretty badly nationally and I think that's often how people vote."

UKIP is hoping to capitalise on the party's popularity nationally and is the only party to field a candidate in every ward, hoping to build support for future European elections.

Roger Vernon said: "We did quite well in the county council elections last year, which isn't bad considering we [the local branch] were only formed in March.

"We are up against a strongly entrenched Labour party, we realise it is a hard race for us to row."

The Liberal Democrats have not had a councillor in Bassetlaw for more than 10 years.

A total of 54 candidates are fighting for 16 seats including two independents.

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