Four candidates have been revealed as contesting the by-election, on Thursday, 14th February 2013, for the vacancy in the Gainsborough East Ward of West Lindsey District Council, caused by the death of Melvyn Starkey, Liberal Democrat, in late October 2012.
At the top of the ballot will be Mark Binns, Liberal Democrat, seeking to retain the seat for his party. He unsuccessfully challenged for a seat in Gainsborough North on the district council in 2011. He is a Gainsborough Town Councillor and was first elected in a by-election in 2008, subsequently re-elected in 2011. It is believed he is a member of the St. John's Ambulance. Expectations are high for Mr. Binns, the ward last voted in 2011 and backed his party with a whopping 57%. With the Liberal Democrats slumping in the polls expect an upset. Likely to finish second or third.
Next on the ballot is Richard Butroid, the Conservative Party Candidate, who is hoping that local electors will support him, so that he can join the ruling Conservative Group at the Council, and really deliver for the people of Gainsborough East. Recently married to Jenine and with a great-grandfather who was a councillor for Gainsborough; Richard hopes to be the second member of the family to represent the people of Gainsborough. Having trained as an electrician he moved into the Health and Safety sector a few years ago and now runs his own company. The Conservatives came second in the 2011 poll with 28%. They will be hoping to equal this performance. Should not be written off, should take second, although a win is not out of the question.
The third name on the ballot is Michael 'Mike' Devine, the Labour Party Candidate, has lived in Gainsborough for more than forty years and attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. He worked on the land for eighteen years before becoming a cashier for a firm in Lincoln. Mike has been a member of Unite, the Union, for the pas quarter century. Labour only fielded one candidate in 2011 and got 16% of the vote, despite coming in third place they managed to get their candidate elected. They are confident of beating the Liberal Democrats, despite the ward being stubbornly in yellow hands since the boundary changes and all-out elections of 1999. With Labour riding high in the polls anything less than a win will be a disappointment.
Finally the fourth candidate is Howard Thompson, UK Independence Party, of Claxby, near Market Rasen. Making him the least local of all four candidates. Dr. Thompson stood, jointly, for UKIP in the Nettleham and Saxilby and Nettleham by-elections last September and retained the Party's third place standing in the district contest, and equalled that performance as new entrants in the county contest. A former RAF Police Squadron Leader, he runs his own company providing data information security to local companies. Married to Elizabeth, with three children and two grandchildren. UKIP have had a patchy presence in ward contests in recent elections and did not field a candidate in the 2011 election. They are unlikely to make a break-through in this election, despite a good showing in the 2009 County Council contest for Gainsborough Hill (they came second) in front of both the Conservatives and Labour. They have shown no sign of building on this. Regardless of where the opinion polls put them nationally, they have not demonstrated any deep support locally. They should be able to manage a showing of 12%, slotting them into fourth place.