Liberal Democrats join two others fielding one candidate in Gravesham and Dartford election

PUBLISHED: 10:40 01 May 2013 | UPDATED: 11:56 01 May 2013

There are a total of 41 candidates representing eight parties in the Gravesham and Dartford areas in tomorrow’s local election.

Labour and the Conservatives are fielding 11 each, matching the number of seats available, with the English Democrats putting forward eight candidates for a spot on Kent County Council.

Many expect UKIP to produce a strong showing at the polls, and residents will find six potential councillors to choose from - as well as two from the BNP.

But three parties are fielding just one candidate each, including the Liberal Democrats, though each candidate has a different level of expectation in the vote.

Probation officer, Chas Berry, represents the Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts (TUSAC) in Gravesham East, and is unsure what to expect in “new territory” for his party.

He said: “People will be looking for a protest vote because they are dissatisfied. I note there is only one Liberal Democrat in the division, so I could pick up votes from there.

“I suspect the Labour vote will hold up and a lot of votes will go to UKIP. The main thing from our point of view is there should be an alternative on the left - we’re not really a political party yet, but it’s early days for us.”

Residents may be surprised by the lack of representation for the Liberal Democrats, who have no candidates up for election in Dartford and just one in Gravesham.

That candidate is accountant Martin Wilson, who is also running in Gravesham East, and he puts the lack of party presence down to a historically low success rate in the area.

“I rate my chances as very low,” he said. “Traditionally, for the last 50 years, we have done very poorly in this area.

“In places like Maidstone we do really well, but as with all political parties we are low on members at the moment. I think Labour will be strong in the election, but I would like to see the Conservatives keep it.

“I’m a right leaning Liberal Democrat, and the Tories are much more savvy with money.”

Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association, currently represented on Kent County Council by Richard Lees, will be represented by solo candidate Peter Harman.

He’s hopeful of following his colleague into the council seat, which will maintain the party presence at all council levels in the area.

“Last time we had a 1,200 majority and we are hoping to keep that,” said Peter.

“Because we are a local party we only target one seat and that’s where we have been representing the local area for many years. Opinions are constantly changing so you never know, but we’re hopeful og keeping the seat.”

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