People living in Nottingham’s only Conservative-held ward say they have been left feeling indifferent and undecided after both councillors announced they would be standing independently in the May 4 election amid a falling out.
Voters will go to the polls next month to select candidates for 55 seats on Nottingham City Council across 20 wards.
City councillors sit for four years, and the authority dictates how Nottingham taxpayers’ money is spent on roads, parks and leisure, libraries and other services including adult and children’s social care and bin collections.
The party lost its seat in Wollaton West, with then chairman of the group Nick Max blaming the upset on the Conservative Party’s handling of Brexit at a national level.
Andrew Rule and Roger Steel managed to secure a strong majority in Clifton West for the Conservatives at the time, with 1,649 votes, or 57.2 per cent of votes, and 1,609 votes, 55.8 per cent, respectively.
The next closest candidate at the time was Labour’s Phil Spear, who secured 987 votes.
However on May 4 this year the election has every chance of proving entirely fruitless for the Nottingham Conservative Group, made possible by the departure of both Mr Rule and Mr Steel.
But at the end of March Mr Rule and Mr Steel announced they would now be standing as independents due to a “fall-out” within the group.
Glenda Lasbury, who has lived in Village Road in Clifton Village for more than 30 years, says the political issues in her ward have left her undecided.
“I know the Conservatives here have gone independent,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“I have not decided yet [who to vote for]. I just haven’t gone one way or the other yet.”
Mrs Lasbury had high praise for the city’s buses, operated by council-owned Nottingham City Transport, as well as the tram network.
However, pointing towards the sloped driveways in Village Road, she said her ward has sometimes been forgotten when it comes to gritting during colder months.
“The buses around here are pretty good, but I use the trams,” she said.
“I think they’re very good, not quite so much after Covid, as they are still in the aftermath of that.
“But Clifton Village tends to be forgotten. The traveller camps were bad, until they put up the bollards, which was good.
“The only thing I would say is the salting, we could do with more salting down here and down this end.
“It is a busy road, with families with children going to work. It would be nice.
“And the centre of Nottingham is a bit like a ghost town, and shops have gone. I haven’t been there in a while because of that.”
Cracks within the Nottingham Conservative Group began to show back in February, with current leader of the group, Mr Rule, announcing he would be standing down from his position over the alleged poor treatment of Mr Steel.
Mr Steel had not been selected by the group as a candidate, due to what he alleges was an “attempt to hi-jack” his seat in a dispute over candidates.
In protest, Mr Rule then withdrew his application for selection as a Conservative candidate for the Clifton West ward.
They will now appear at the ballot box as independents.
They are, however, not to be confused with the Nottingham Independents, which currently control Clifton East and are the second-largest party on the council after Labour.
Wayne Faulconbridge and his wife Ellen live on the Clifton estate which is located on the other side of the A453.
The estate sits within a territory currently controlled by the Nottingham Independents.
Mr Faulconbridge said: “We are going to vote Labour. I’ve never voted Conservative, but we always say to each other whoever gets in will either be as good or as bad as the others.
“The other side of Clifton where we live is around 60 per cent council homes. We’ve lived there 36 years.
“I would have said we need to sort out crime two years ago, but it has got better.”
Mrs Faulconbridge added: “I think what is happening in national politics will be come down locally.
“I will always vote because of people like Emmeline Pankhurst who campaigned for women’s rights to vote.”
Jaikav Mohan, 31, who moved from India to study in Nottingham, says he has been living in the city for a year and a half.
He currently works at the Barton Green Premier convenience store in Crusader Court.
He too says he would not know which political party to vote for, if he could.
“The reason I’m not going to vote first of all is because you need residency, and I am on a temporary visa,” he said.
“But I think you should be able to vote. I’ve been living here for a year and a half now.
“This part of Clifton needs better bus services, like most of my friends work late-night jobs so there is disruption for them.”
Meanwhile Colin O’Connor, 70, who lives in Clifton Village and has lived in the area all his life, says he has never voted and never will due to his beliefs.
He however praised the current councillors of the area in which he lives and said “everyone is doing their best”.
“I’m not voting because of my beliefs,” he said. “I’m a Christian.
“They are very good at what they are doing but the overall picture is a problem is too big to resolve.
“Whatever efforts we make are not going to get us very far.
“In the scriptures it says we should not rule and there should be only one ruler in God.”
Since its inception in 1992, Nottingham City Council has been Labour-led.
While it lost two seats in 2019, the Labour Party managed to retain overall control of the council, winning 50 out of 55 seats.
The Nottingham Independents have all three seats in Clifton East, while the Conservatives hold two.
Labour is this year the only party with a candidate for all 55 seats, while the Conservatives have 41, the Nottingham Independents have 28, and the Liberal Democrats have 20.
The Green Party has put up 17 candidates, alongside UKIP which has two.
Three candidates will be standing independently and one will stand for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.
Results are expected on May 5 and voters must bring photo ID to polling stations.
The candidates standing in the Clifton West ward, in which two seats are available, are as follows:
Daniel John Atherton – Conservative Party Candidate
Paul Simon Luke Bradshaw – Nottingham Independents Putting Clifton First
Emma Louise Crane – Nottingham Independents Putting Clifton First
Aamir Nawaz – Conservative Party Candidate
Andrew James Peter Rule – Independent
Hayley Spain – Labour Party
Roger David Steel – Independent
Mark David Vandersluis – Liberal Democrat
Seb Wilkins – Labour Party