North Hykeham

Date set for Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election

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Residents in Sleaford and North Hykeham are expected to go to the polls on December 8 to vote for their new Member of Parliament.

The by-election has been triggered by the sudden resignation of Stephen Phillips on Friday, November 4.

North Kesteven District Council has said that the date is subject to confirmation from Parliament and receiving the official writ.

Phillips said in his resignation letter that he could no longer live with being labelled a Tory.

In a letter to George Clark, chairman of the Sleaford and North Hykeham Conservative Association, he said: “Some will label me a quitter or, no doubt, worse. Those are labels with which I can live. The label Conservative no longer is.”

The runners and riders so far

County councillor Richard Davies. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Reporter

County councillor Richard Davies. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Reporter

As reported first in Lincolnshire Reporter, county councillor Richard Davies is seeking to become the Conservative candidate.

He said: “I live in the constituency and was born and raised in the area. I’m passionate about Lincolnshire which I hope has come through in my role and efforts on the county council.

“People rightly talk about Brexit and other main international issues. However, a lot of constituents actually are more concerned about the issues which I’ve mentioned, which perhaps aren’t as sexy, but have a more direct impact on their day-to-day lives.”

Other Conservatives wishing to put themselves forward have so far kept their cards close to their chests.

Possible opponents for Davies from other parties include UKIP leadership candidate Suzanne Evans, who launched her bid on BBC’s World at One programme.

Victoria Ayling. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Victoria Ayling. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Outspoken UKIP county councillor Victoria Ayling, who has criticised Evans in recent weeks, also plans to become the party’s candidate.

Ayling stood unsuccessfully for UKIP in Great Grimsby in the 2015 general election, and in the same constituency in 2010, but for the Conservatives.

She finished second behind Conservative Marc Jones in the 2016 Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner election.

Her bid has received the support of Diane James, who was elected UKIP leader in September 2016, but resigned just 18 days later.

Fellow Lincolnshire county councillor Robin Hunter-Clarke has also announced his intention to stand.

Hunter-Clarke, who represents Skegness South, is chief of staff to the UKIP group in the Welsh Assembly, over 200 miles from Lincolnshire.

He finished second in the Boston and Skegness constituency in the 2015 general election.

He said: “These opportunities don’t come round very often. How can I not seek the nomination, when I came so close in the neighbouring seat of Boston and Skegness?

“I believe this by-election is a huge opportunity for UKIP. Although it is a huge Tory majority, the same rules do not apply in by-elections.

Conservative district councillor Giles McNeill has also suggested that another UKIP councillor, Daniel McNally, may throw his hat in the ring.

McNally represents Louth Marsh on Lincolnshire County Council.

The Labour Party is expected to select its candidate on Wednesday, November 9, with the Conservatives choosing who to put forward a day later.

UKIP will also be likely to announce its candidate this week, probably on Friday, November 11.

No information has either been released or leaked about any other parties who intend to field a candidate.