It's that time of the year again.
Local elections are in the air and that means my much-anticipated annual Runners & Riders blog
Current composition of Basildon Borough Council:
Basildon Council has 42 councillors across 16 wards and holds elections three out of every four years, electing a third of the seats each time. There are fourteen seats up for grabs this year. (NB: there are no elections in St. Martin's or Vange because they are smaller two-member wards). The fate of each one will help determine who controls the Council. The Conservatives took back administration in May last year, following two years of No Overall Control. The Conservatives have consistently remained the largest group on the Council but it was run by a so-called 'Labour and Independent Alliance', who when banded together just narrowly outnumbered us. That changed in May 2021, when we gained crucial seats in Laindon Park, Langdon Hills, Pitsea South-East, Vange and St Martin’s, the latter costing the then Labour Mayor his seat.
At present, Basildon Council consists of 25 Conservatives, 10 Labour, 4 'Independents' (a faction led by former UKIP councillor Kerry Smith), 2 Wickford Independents, and 1 non-aligned member (former Labour councillor Elaine McDonald, who left the Labour Group under a somewhat mysterious cloud but probably related to the fact she is an avowed Corbynite at a time when that is out of vogue in Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party). So, currently, the Conservative Administration enjoys a working majority of three.
The magic number for an overall majority at Basildon is 22 seats – this is the minimum number of seats needed to command an overall majority and form an administration. This year, we Tories are the victims of our own success in 2018, defending ten seats, with Labour defending just three and the aforementioned Kerry Smith fighting re-election in is own seat.
Once again, Basildon Conservatives are fielding a full slate of candidates in every seat, the only party to have consistently done so. This time, Labour are also contesting every seat for the first time in years, indicating the 'non-aggression pact' with the Wickford Independents expired along with Gavin Callaghan's leadership.
The Basildon Community Residents Party (BCRP - pr. 'Be Cr*p'), who fielded candidates for the first time in the local elections last year, announced last month that they would not be standing in these elections. What a loss. As I suspected, this anti-Tory front have collapsed under the weight of their own contradictions. For all BCRP's bluster about the need for a politics-free independent residents' party, they ultimately just became another hard-left fringe group, riddled with Marxists dinosaurs and politically homeless Corbynistas driven out of Labour and left carping from the sidelines. The word on the street is that most of their activists and former candidates lost interest and wandered off. Even their leader went on holiday during his own by-election campaign and spent most of his time at left-wing rallies rather than campaigning in his ward. I suspect that's the last we'll see of them.
We have only one Reform UK candidate this year and two Smithite Independents. UKIP have disappeared again but there is one far-right British Democrat and a far-left Trade Unionist and Socialist. Notable by their absence are the candidates that the Billericay & District Residents' Association has said they would field this year. The BDRA, who previously held seats in Billericay in the 1970s and '80s, had announced in The Resident their intention to stand candidates in the three Billericay seats but have not done so. At one point, the BDRA held nine seats on Basildon Council but had lost all of them by 1984 and have not contested local elections in nearly 40 years. Their threat to stand was prompted by the unpopular Local Plan and their failure to do so can almost certainly be explained by the decision of the Council to withdraw the plan in February.
If you are not sure which ward/division you come under, click here and enter your postcode.
Parties standing / No. of candidates
The Conservative Party x14
The Labour Party x14
The Liberal Democrats x10
The Wickford Independents x3
Independents (Smithites) x2
Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition x1
The British Democrats x1
Here are the runners and riders locally: Incumbents are marked with an ‘*’
- BUNYAN, Peter (Labour)
- CLARK, Laura (Liberal Democrats)
- SCHRADER, Andrew (Conservative)*
Cllr. Andrew Schrader
Yours truly (pictured) is seeking re-election in Billericay East for the third time. I am currently Chairman of the Housing and Estate Renewal Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee. I also sit on the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee. I have represented Billericay East since a by-election in 2013 and am proud to be seeking a third term. It has been an incredible four years and I feel so privileged to represent this community. After two years of neglect by the Labour-led council, we are finally seeing investment return to Billericay, with more money for our parks, play areas and open spaces and investment in our public realm. Nothing could have prepared me for chairing Housing and managing that busy portfolio. It has been an incredible eye-opener but a very rewarding one. I have really enjoyed getting to grips with the brief. Peter Bunyan is standing as a first-time candidate for Labour, while Lib Dem town councillor Laura Clark is standing here, having contested Burstead last year. I am defending a 78% share of the vote and a majority of 2,029 votes but I take nothing for granted. I hope I have done enough to retain the resident's confidence.
- BUNYAN, Sally (Labour)
- HEDLEY, Anthony (Conservative)*
- NICKLIN, Timothy (Liberal Democrats)
Cllr. Anthony Hedley
Tony Hedley (pictured) is seeking re-election in Billericay West for the sixth time. He has represented the seat since 2000, making him one of our longest-serving councillors. Tony is currently Deputy Leader of the Council and Chairman of the Regeneration and Economic Development Committee. He also serves as an Essex county councillor for Billericay & Burstead. Sally Bunyan is standing for the first time for Labour (wife of Peter Bunyan, standing in the neighbouring Billericay East seat). Somewhat astonishingly, the previous Lib Dem candidate, who nearly had us on the ropes in Billericay West, recently announced that he was planning to move away from the town and had decided not to stand. The Liberals have, somewhat bizarrely, selected Dr. Tim Nicklin as their candidate. Dr. Nicklin lives in Langdon Hills and stood there last year, coming seventh out of eight, with just 6% of the vote. Presumably none of the handful of Liberals elected to Billericay Town Council last year fancied a run at the borough seat, so instead they are fielding an out-of-towner against a Tory incumbent who is a local resident and has represented the seat for over two decades. I think that is what Sir Humphry Appleby would call a "courageous" decision. Part of our problem in West, of course, was that our councillors were hard-working but not 'visible'. Tony recently joined Facebook, however, and has blazed a trail for all of us. Not only is he now much more accessible (and goodness knows he's raking in the casework!), he is able to showcase all the hard work he does behind the scenes. I should say that I am biased. I regard Tony as my political mentor. He nurtured me when I was first elected nine years ago, took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, and I have never known anyone as dedicated and passionate about serving his constituents. Billericay West quite simply could not hope for a better councillor than Tony Hedley. He is defending a majority of 2,149 (an 81% share of the vote in 2018).
- BAGGOTT, Andrew (Conservative)*
- DAFFIN, Christopher (Liberal Democrats)
- REID, Malcolm (Labour)
Cllr. Andrew Baggott
The Boss, Andy Baggott (pictured), is seeking re-election in Burstead for the second time, having represented the seat since 2014. He is currently Leader of Basildon Council and Chairman of the Policy Executive Committee and the Enforcement and Public Order Committee. Christopher Daffin is standing as a first-time candidate for the Lib Dems, while Labour are once again putting up paper candidate Malcolm Reid, husband of Pitsea councillor Pat Reid. This is Mr. Reid's fourth election; his second time contesting Burstead. Andy is defending a majority of 2,405 (83% of the vote in 2018) in what is generally considered the safest seat on the Council. Andy, who was previously Leader of the Council from 2018 to 2019, suffered a stroke in February 2021 but has made a strong recovery and took up the reigns of power again last May and has shown himself to be in fine fettle and provided strong leadership over the past eleven months, most notably the withdrawal of the Local Plan. He is now fighting fit and raring to go.
- HILTON, Tracey (Labour)
- SARGENT, Terri (Conservative)*
Cllr. Terri Sargent
Terri Sargent is seeking re-election in Crouch for the fifth time, having represented the seat since its creation in 2002. She is currently Chairman of the Communities and Well-Being Committee. There is no Lib Dem candidate, so this is very much a two-horse race, with Tracey Hilton standing for Labour as the only other candidate in Crouch. Ms Hilton previously contested Billericay East last year and Billericay West in 2019. Terri is defending a majority of 1,102 (74% of the vote in 2018). She has now represented the seat for 20 years and remains as industrious and hard-working for her residents as ever.
- HOWARD, Vivien (Liberal Democrats)
- KIRKMAN, David (Labour)*
- SANDHU, Sandeep (Conservative)
Labour's David Kirkman is defending this traditionally staunch Labour seat in Basildon. He currently sits on the Licensing Committee and the Scrutiny Committee. I must confess, I am a bit surprised to see he is seeking re-election, as we had been told he is ill and incapacitated. He hasn't attended a meeting since September last year and it was only because a dispensation was granted, on compassionate grounds, that his prolonged absences did not trigger an automatic by-election. I had rather assumed he would stand down at this point. I am obviously hugely sympathetic to anyone who is suffering from ill health, and it is possible he has since made a recovery (if so, good for him), but it is hard not to avoid the feeling that the residents of Fryerns are being rather short-changed by their Labour councillors, particularly when you consider that Councillor Kirkman's ward colleague, Adele Brown, is hardly picking up the slack! She also has an extremely poor attendance record (she has attended less than half the meetings at which she was expected over the past year) and an FOI request reveals she has logged no casework in the last two years. Our candidate, Sandeep Sandhu (pictured), is a local man and an engineer by trade, who would be a hard worker for Fryerns. He came second last time, being within a couple of hundred votes of replacing Councillor Brown. Viv Howard is standing once again for the Liberals, having stood here the last two elections in a row. This is actually Mrs Howard's fifteenth election. Like her husband, Martin, Mrs Howard is a perennial Liberal candidate and has stood in the Liberal interest in five different ward around the Borough since 1998. Councillor Kirkman is defending a majority of 312 (49% of the vote in 2018).
- BATEMAN, Christopher (British Democrats)
- GODDARD, David (Labour)
- HENRY, Jeff (Conservative)*
- McCARTHY, Stephen (Liberal Democrats)
- MURRAY, David (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)
Cllr. Jeff Henry
Popular local councillor Jeff Henry is seeking re-election in Laindon Park, having first been elected in 2018. He currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Leisure and Environment Committee and also sits on the Communities and Well-Being Committee, the Regeneration and Economic Development Committee and the Housing and Estate Renewal Committee. On top of all that, he is also an Essex county councillor, chairing their Health Overview Policy and Scrutiny Committee and also sitting on the People and Families Policy and Scrutiny Committee and is the County rep' on the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust. To say that Jeff keeps himself busy is an understatement! On top of all that, he recently took on a position as a non-executive director of Sempra Homes, the Council's wholly-owned house-building company and, under his watchful eye, Sempra has delivered 43 new homes in Basildon. He also saved Laindon Community Centre and, just this last week, was instrumental in unclogging a logjam that was holding up the redevelopment of Laindon Town Centre. Although a somewhat sardonic, soft-spoken Ulsterman, Jeff has lived in and loved Laindon for 30-odd years and is a dyed-in-the-wool Laindoner and proud resident of the Five Links Estate. Laindon runs through him like a stick of rock. His Labour challenger is David Goddard, who previously contested Billericay West last year and Nethermayne in 2019. Cris Bateman is back, having previously stood for the rather nasty ‘For Britain’ but now standing under the equally unpleasant 'British Democrats', whose policies include ending all immigration and reinstating the death penalty. Stephen McCarthy is standing again for the Lib Dems, having contested the seat last year, and arch-socialist David Murray is standing once again for the ultra left-wing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. This is Mr. Murray's sixth election since 1995 and his third on behalf of TUSC. He has been out of the Labour Party for 30 years and has always stood on a far-left platform (first as 'Militant Labour' and then under various socialist banners). Jeff is defending a majority of 156 (44% of the vote in 2018).
- ALLEN, Christopher (Conservative)*
- BROWN, Walter (Independent)
- MAY, Christopher (Liberal Democrats)
- ZWENGUNDE, Clarence (Labour)
Cllr. Chris Allen
Chris Allen (pictured), is fighting re-election after only a year in office, having won the Langdon Hills by-election last year, occasioned by the death in office of Independent (Smithite) councillor Imelda Clancy. Chris has hit the ground running and already has one of the highest casework rates of any elected member on Basildon Council. Unfortunately, he may have an uphill struggle for re-election, owing to Langdon Hills' having been treated as a personal 'pocket ward' of ex-'Kipper Kerry Smith in recent years. Langdon Hills was previously a staunch Conservative heartland but has fallen into a pattern of voting Tory nationally but 'Independent' locally. Two seats were contested simultaneously in 2021, with the Smithite, Val Robbins, topping the poll. But she was only 74 votes ahead of Chris. Chris was deemed to have won the by-election and therefore simply finishes off the term of the late Councillor Clancy. As she would have been up this year, Chris must now fight re-election and, this time, there won't be any split votes. This means he will be in a straight head-to-head with Walt Brown, Councillor Smith's chosen cipher for this election. It will be a real shame if Chris does not retain his seat, and certainly no reflection on him! An FOI request reveals that, while Chris has logged over 200 items of casework since he was elected in May, his Smithite counterpart, who was elected at the same time, has logged only 50 or so. So there is no doubt about it, Chris has worked his socks off in the ward and secured a number of early wins, including securing funding for improvements to play areas and open spaces in the ward. Clarence Zwengunde is standing for Labour again for the second time in Langdon Hills (his fourth election) but, bizarrely, Christopher May is standing here as a first-time borough candidate for the Lib Dems. This compounds the mystery of why Langdon Hills resident and former Langdon Hills candidate Tim Nicklin is now standing in Billericay West, where Cllr. May is a sitting town councillor. This is quite the illogical switcheroo! Chris Allen is nominally defending a 40% vote share from the 2021 local elections.
LEE CHAPEL NORTH
- CAIRA-NEESON, Susanna (Labour)
- SAGGERS, Norma (Reform UK)
- SHUKLA, Deepak (Conservative)
Elaine McDonald won the seat for Labour in 2018 with an impressive majority of 791 (56% of the vote) but, as advised earlier, she has left the Labour Party (or the Labour Party has left her) and they announced recently that she was 'retiring', or in any event being retired (take your pick). Susanna Caira-Neeson, a former one-term Labour councillor for Langdon Hills (1996-2000), has been selected to replace her but she may not find this traditional Labour safe seat quite the cake walk it once was. Our candidate is Deepak Shukla (pictured), a resident of Lee Chapel North, who stood here last year and came a tantalisingly close second, being just 45 votes behind Labour. Deepak would be an exceptionally hard worker for the ward, which has been taken for granted and largely ignored by Labour councillors for far too long. There is no Lib Dem candidate but plucky Norma Saggers is standing here as the only Reform UK candidate left in the whole borough. She previously contested Nethermayne for the party last year and was a UKIP candidate in Langdon Hills in 2018. Sadly, the lack of a Lib Dem candidate here and the presence of Ms Saggers is quite likely to split the right-wing vote and let Labour back in. This is a shame, as Lee Chapel North is dying for some real representation and we're within less than 50 votes of winning it!
- NICE, Stephen (Liberal Democrats)
- OKORAFOR, Chima (Conservative)
- SMITH, Kerry (Independent)*
- WRIGHT, Dylan (Labour)
The indefatigable Kerry Smith is seeking re-election for the second time in his Nethermayne fortress. Councillor Smith has had a storied and bizarre political career, having originally fought the ward for UKIP back when it was still a Lib Dem stronghold and personal fiefdom of the Williams family back in 2010. It took him four years but he eventually won it in 2014, the year the 'Kippers swept the board and won everything outside true-blue Billericay, becoming the main Opposition party overnight, with Councillor Smith as their Group Leader. In 2013, he had also won the county seat. Within a year, however, his political career imploded after a scandal led to him being first deselected, re-selected and then 're-deselected' as a parliamentary candidate, and ultimately forced to resign from the party. But it did nothing to dent his personal popularity in the ward and he has gone from strength to hideous strength and he was re-elected to his county seat in 2017 and in Nethermayne in 2018 as an Independent, with a stonking majority of 2,109 (77% of the vote). The truth is that Nethermayne was never really a ward made up of 'Liberal' voters, but rather anti-establishment protest voters and they don't come much more anti-establishment than Kerry Smith. He was joined initially by his late mother and has now amassed a motley crew of followers, who call themselves the 'Independent Group' on Basildon Council. There have generally been three or four of them at any given time over the past few years, which has enabled Councillor Smith to act as a sort of 'Kingmaker' when the Council is hung and, on the last two occasions, he has helped put Labour in power in exchange for some trappings of office, serving as Deputy Leader of the Council under the Alliance. Seeking to make a dent in that seemingly unassailable majority is plucky first-time candidate Chima Okorafor (pictured). Chima is fighting his first election and would serve Nethermayne well. He is particularly opposed to the huge tower blocks that Kerry Smith supported under the last Administration. Labour are fielding first-time candidate Dylan Wright, while veteran Lib Dem candidate Steve Nice is back here for the third election running (his twelfth election since 2002).
- FERGUSON, Jack (Labour)*
- GASCOYNE, Sam (Conservative)
- HOWARD, Martin (Liberal Democrat)
The Labour Leader of the Opposition, Jack Ferguson, is defending his Pitsea North-West seat, which he won in 2018 with a majority of 301 (47% of the vote). Councillor Ferguson may well be feeling nervous, however, as his predecessor, Gavin Callaghan, only narrowly clung on to his seat last year, with his majority more than halved, only to then dramatically resign from the Council a few weeks later, triggering a by-election which Labour then lost, with Conservative candidate Stuart Terson winning the seat with a majority of 364 (57% of the vote). Since then, Councillor Terson, who has only been a councillor since July, has racked up nearly 200 pieces of casework, while over the last year Councillor Ferguson has logged only just over 50. We are hoping that Sam Gascoyne will join Stuart as another hard-working councillor for Pitsea North-West. He recently became something of an Internet sensation after doorbell footage of an awkward encounter with a resident went viral, in which Sam innocently mistook a 24-year-old resident for a child and asked "Are Mum and Dad in?". The baby-faced resident's brother posted it online but, fortunately, he saw the funny side. A canvassing story for the ages. Nearly as good as the one in which I got chased down a driveway by a feral goose. But that's for another time, dear reader. Martin Howard returns as our perennial Lib Dem candidate. Believe it or not, Mr. Howard has stood in more elections than any other candidate (but never won a seat) - nineteen elections in four different seats since 1973, originally standing for the old Liberal Party in Burstead. This is his fourteenth try at Pitsea North-West.
- BAKER, Michael (Labour)
- MACKENZIE, Luke (Conservative)*
Cllr. Luke Mackenzie
Deputy Mayor Luke Mackenzie is seeking re-election in Pitsea South-East, which he won in 2018. Luke has served for the past year as Deputy Mayor of Basildon and Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee. He is also been an Essex county councillor for Pitsea since last year. He has been working tirelessly, along with his ward colleague, Craig Rimmer, to progress the stalled swimming pool project and to fight crime and anti-social behaviour in Pitsea. He has had good success with both, with a new swimming pool now coming to Eversley, as promised, and just a few weeks ago a new Public Safety Protection Order was introduced. Last year, Luke and Craig were joined by Gary Canham, making Pitsea South-East an all-blue ward for the first time since 2012. They will be seeking to keep it that way by getting Luke re-elected. With no Lib Dem candidate, this is a straight two-horse race between Luke and the Labour candidate, Michael Baker, who previously contested Nethermayne last year. Luke is defending a majority of 157 (47% of the vote in 2018).
- MOTT, Stewart (Liberal Democrats)
- MYERS, Alex (Conservative)
- SANSOM, Charlie (Wickford Independents)
- WRIGHT, Matthew (Labour)
Veteran Wickford councillor Malcolm Buckley is retiring after an incredible 30 years of service to the town. Well-known local man and community activist Alex Myers has been selected to replace him but has very large shoes to fill. His opponents are Stewart Mott, standing for the Lib Dems, who has just become a Wickford town councillor in the inaugural (and shamefully uncontested) elections to that newly-created body. Matthew Wright is standing as a first-time Labour candidate. In a truly bizarre move, Charlie Sansom is standing for the Wickford Independents. Oddities abound, dear reader, but this is odder than most! Some of you may remember Charlie as a Conservative candidate in South Basildon last year, who dramatically quit the Tory Party in December, having become increasingly 'cranky' over the Government's approach to Covid-19, getting rather overexcited about 'mask mandates' and 'vaccine passports' and denouncing the Government in somewhat hysterical terms as "tyrants". He is quite a big personality and, for what it's worth, I quite liked him but many of us found his inability to take advice frustrating. When he quit, he did so in a typically boisterous fashion, announcing it live on air, throwing many of his erstwhile colleagues who had supported him and campaigned for him under a bus. He didn't so much 'burn his bridges' as nuke them from outer space. He has since become a disappointingly mendacious critic of the Administration. He likes the limelight and enjoys a good dust up, so I suppose it was inevitable he'd rock up as a candidate somewhere but quite what possessed him to stand here of all places is anybody's guess (I haven't spoken to him since he quit). If he has any connexions to Wickford, they are unknown to me. He certainly doesn't live there. Perhaps more mystifying is why the Windies accepted him as a candidate. He's a bit 'off-brand' for them, given they pride themselves on being for Wickford and of Wickford and 'free from party politics' (Charlie is none of those things!). Of course, their leader, David Harrison, has stood under just about every party banner going. None of them stuck, I suspect because Councillor Harrison does not play particularly well with others. Neither does Charlie. Honestly? I can't see them getting along. Anyway, Alex will be nominally defending Malcolm's 625 majority (59% of the vote in 2018) and will be a fantastic councillor for Wickford Castledon.
- HAMMOND, Trevor (Wickford Independents)
- HOAD, Nicola (Liberal Democrats)
- HOLLIMAN, Peter (Conservative)*
- NEMETH, Joseph (Labour)
Cllr. Peter Holliman
Peter Holliman (pictured) is seeking re-election in Wickford North for the second time, having first been elected in 2014. He currently sits on the Regeneration and Economic Development Committee. Shotgate parish councillor Trevor Hammond is standing as a first-time borough candidate for the Windies and Joseph Nemeth is likewise a first-time Labour candidate, while Nicola Hoad is standing again for the Lib Dems (she was also elected unopposed to the new Wickford Town Council in this year's uncontested inaugural elections). Peter is avuncular and well-liked. He is defending a majority of 426 (57% of the vote in 2018).
- BALL, Alan (Wickford Independents)
- JEFFERY, George (Conservative)*
- WEBB, Brenda (Labour)
Cllr. George Jeffery
George Jeffery (pictured) is seeking re-election in Wickford Park, to which he was elected in 2018 as the youngest councillor on Basildon Council at the age of 21. He is currently Chairman of the Joint Standards Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee and recently graduated from university. George is, bar none, the hardest working councillor in Wickford, logging over 200 items of casework in the last year alone. His opponent at this election is Alan Ball, who was elected as a UKIP councillor for Wickford Castledon in 2014 before defecting and co-founding the Wickford Independents a year later. He lost his seat in 2018 and failed to get re-elected in 2019. He stood in Wickford North last year and is trying Wickford Park this year. Basildon resident Brenda Webb, wife of Labour councillor Terry Webb, is a first-time Labour candidate, presumably standing in Wickford as a paper candidate. There is no Lib Dem. George is defending a majority of 191 (48% of the vote in 2018).
We have two married couples standing this year: Peter and Sally Bunyan (Lab, Billericay East and Billericay West) and Martin and Vivien Howard (Lib Dem, Pitsea North-West and Fryerns). Malcolm Reid (Lab, Burstead) is also the husband of Cllr. Pat Reid (Lab, Pitsea North-West) and Brenda Webb (Lab, Wickford Park) is the wife of Cllr. Terry Webb (Lab, Lee Chapel North).
Martin Howard (Lib Dem, Pitsea North-West) is fighting his nineteenth election - more than any other candidate. He first stood for Basildon Council in 1973! He also holds the dubious distinction of having fought the most elections without ever winning a seat.
We have two former councillors seeking to rejoin Basildon Council: Alan Ball (WI, Wickford Park) and Susanna Caira-Neeson (Lab, Lee Chapel North). Neither of them are standing in seats they previously represented, though I believe the old ward boundaries for Langdon Hills used to include parts of the current Lee Chapel North ward where Ms Caira-Neeson is standing.
We have thirteen candidates who, to the best of my knowledge, are fighting their first election campaigns.
We have two retiring councillors this year – Malcolm Buckley (Con, Wickford Castledon) and Elaine McDonald (n/a, Lee Chapel North). Malcolm has spent 30 years on the Council, representing Wickford South from 1988 to 2002 and then Wickford Castledon from 2002 to 2014 and again from 2018 to now. He was Deputy Leader under the late Tony Archer from 1992 to 1994 and then served as Leader himself from 2002 to 2009. His late wife, Sylvia, was also a Conservative Councillor in Wickford from 1990 to 1994 and then again from 1998 until her sad death in 2013. Malcolm remains an Essex county councillor for the Wickford Crouch Division, which he has represented since 2013. Elaine McDonald was elected in 2018 in Lee Chapel North and seemed a friendly enough sort, albeit clearly very left-wing indeed.
A vaguery of these elections is that councillors are normally elected to four-year terms but everyone elected this year is effectively standing for a two-year term, as Basildon is due to undergo a Boundary Review. So everyone elected in May this year will have to fight re-election under the new boundaries, along with every other councillor, in the all-in election scheduled for 2024 (and who knows if their seat will still exist?). Could be worse. Any poor sod who stands next year will have to do it all again the following year.
A 'dishonourable mention' should go to Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet Parish Council and the brand spanking new Wickford Town Council, both of which were due to be holding elections this year at the same time as the borough elections but both of which have been 'uncontested', which is a posh way of saying that, as usual, our parish councils are largely self-appointed unelected bodies. The Wickford Town Council was literally only just created, after extensive lobbying by some Wickford residents. It is supposed to elect 20 town councillors, making it the second largest parish council in the Borough after Billericay Town Council and, like that council, unusual for a parish council in that it was big enough to be warded. As it stands, only 18 people have put themselves forward for WTC, so there will be no elections. So Wickford will now have these eighteen people swanning about town, calling themselves 'councillors', with a platform and a budget of taxpayers' money to spend, precepted from your Council Tax through their new council, whom NOBODY ELECTED! Likewise, Bowers Gifford & North Benfleet PC is supposed to have 7 parish councillors but only 3 have put themselves forward. These vacancies may all now be filled by 'co-option' (a euphemism for the sitting councillors voting their chums onto the council) or simply left vacant. I'm not even sure the last time BGNBPC had contested elections. I think it may have been over a decade. But there should be a law - two successive uncontested elections and there's a referendum to abolish the parish council! Rant over.