New faces guaranteed at town hall as Crawley residents head for the ballot boxes

Results will be announced from 2pm
Results will be announced from 2pm

Crawley goes to the polls this week in what promises to be one of the most fascinating elections of recent years.

A total of 46 candidates will be standing in 12 wards and, with three councillors not standing for re-election and one opting to stand in a different ward, four neighbourhoods will see a new face representing them at the town hall.

Add to that the fact the leaders of the Conservatives and Labour – Howard Bloom and Peter Lamb – will be fighting for their positions and it makes for the most interesting of times.

The polling stations open from 7am-10pm on Thursday (May 22) and the count will be held at K2 on Friday.

It has been a difficult year for the Conservatives, which included the defection of Cllr Karl Williamson to UKIP in July 2013 and the resignation of Cllr Bob Lanzer as leader in August.

The party also lost the experience of Claire and John Denman, who moved away from the town, and Alan Quirk, who has chosen not to stand for re-election after 10 years’ service to the town.

But visits from Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague suggested the Tories had no intention of letting control slip from their grasp.

With the council made up of 19 Conservative councillors, 16 Labour, one UKIP and one vacant, Labour needs to win three more seats to gain control.

But this year will see UKIP fielding 11 candidates, meaning what had traditionally been a two-horse race in Crawley has gained another runner.

Another interesting aspect of the election will be the battle for Southgate.

The neighbourhood elected two Tory councillors but found itself with one UKIP councillor following the defection of Cllr Williamson, while Howard Bloom has chosen to move his attention to Pound Hill South & Worth. With all four candidates being well known for their work in the community, the outcome is difficult to predict.