Local by election proves to be the warm up to the General Election

PUBLISHED: 15:22 06 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 June 2010

By John Elworthy FOR many of the 7,000 voters in Wisbech North engaged in a county, district and town council by election on April 14, the Parliamentary candidates will be already familiar. Most of the key participants in the General Election on May 6 h

By John Elworthy

FOR many of the 7,000 voters in Wisbech North engaged in a county, district and town council by election on April 15, the Parliamentary candidates will be already familiar.

Most of the key participants in the General Election on May 6 have been out in force campaigning.

The focus of their effort has been on behalf of their candidates for a by election caused by the death of long serving councillor, Les Sims.

The by election has been dominated by a strong local issue with Wisbech taxi drivers' chairman Dave Patrick contesting the seat for the Lib Dems in a row over the district council's £75,000 proposals to remove taxis from the Horse Fair.

It will also be a test of strength for county councillor Steve Tierney who hopes to add a district council seat to his portfolio of interest.

All parties, however, are keen to do well in the by election, especially the Conservatives who control 38 out of the 40 seats on Fenland District Council and all nine Fenland seats on the county council.

At least two of the Parliamentary candidates vying for votes on May 6 have been trumpeting their 'green' credentials, using public transport to criss cross the constituency and in the process discovering the idiosyncrasies of bus timetables.

Lib Dem Lorna Spencely has been on Twitter bemoaning the fact Norfolk Green no longer accepts Stagecoach tickets whilst Labour's Peter Robert extols the virtues of using a mix of public transport and friends' cars as he sets about his campaign.

Steve Barclay, adopted nearly two years ago as the Conservative choice to replace the incumbent MP Malcolm Moss, has also been out on the streets of Wisbech but concentrating on extolling the virtues of his national policies, in particular his party's support for pensioners.

UKIP will be fielding Robin Lee Talbot as their candidate, a 36 year old tanker driver who, like Steve Barclay, claims a military background but there the similarities end. Mr Barclay lists his hobbies as rugby and skydiving whilst Mr Talbot's list includes archery and raising free range chickens on his allotment.

Neither can compete, however, with Ms Spencely whose weekend activities include

"walking with wolves as a member of the UK Wolf Conservation Trust."

At least one independent has announced her intention to stand.

Littleport businesswoman Debra Jordan has thrown her hat into the ring, claiming rural Fenland has been "scandalously underserved" by the Government.

She is also spearheading a campaign to retain the local paramedic service.

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