Lancashire County Council elections special

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A South Ribble seat is set to be the most keenly fought in the forthcoming Lancashire County Council elections.

That's because the South Ribble Rural East ward pits two ex-colleagues directly against each other.

Former Idle Toad colleagues Tom Sharratt and Barrie Yates are now at loggerheads as the only candidates for the seat, which covers areas such as Hoghton, Higher Walton and parts of Bamber Bridge, Walton-le-Dale, and Gregson Lane.

Idle Toad councillor Sharratt and Conservative councillor Yates will go head-to-head in the June 4 vote, with no love lost between the rivals.

Coun Yates was Coun Sharratt's closest ally when he was kicked off the Labour group, and went with him to help set up the Idle Toad party eight years ago.

But Coun Yates made a very public U-turn in 2007, joining the Conservative party and becoming South Ribble Mayor for 2008-2009.

Since then there has been little love lost between the two.

Having just relinquished his chains - and with Labour and Liberal Democrats stepping aside - Coun Yates aimed the first shot of the two-way showdown, saying: "If people want a candidate who is going to work for them instead of just writing a newsletter, then I am the right person.

"Nothing has been done in the area over the years, the roads and pavements need sorting out as well as anti-social behaviour. I'm the man to do it."

Coun Sharratt, who has held the seat for 28 years, said: "Barrie Yates is perfectly free to stand under whatever designation he chooses. I welcome this election, it gives all the voters an opportunity to show what they think of him.

"The issues are essentially local. We are not MPs, we are councillors and are responsible for ensuring efficient delivery of local authority services at reasonable cost.

"I write the Idle Toad newsletter because I feel it is important the voters know what is going on. Everything we do is in the name of electors, on their behalf."

Two other heavyweight battles will take place in the Leyland central and south west wards.

Competition

Current seat-holder and executive member of Lancashire County Council Matthew Tomlinson, who is also the South Ribble Labour leader, has strong competition from local Liberal Democrat stalwart and former borough councillor Derek Forrest, plus Conservative candidate and Leyland regeneration champion Mike France.

With Coun Tomlinson already well established as the LCC member for sustainable development, Leyland stationery shop owner and borough councillor France and Hough Lane solicitor Mr Forrest will be hoping for an upset.

In Leyland south west, experienced Labour veteran Anne Brown defends her seat from ambitious Conservative candidate Michael Green, who currently holds the corporate and support services portfolio on the borough council.

Liberal Democrat Gareth Armstrong will also stand in what promises to be a close call on an exciting night at the ballot box.