Harold Hill: Gooshays by-election to take place next Thursday, March 21

Cllr Dennis Bull, whose death in January triggered next week's by-election

Cllr Dennis Bull, whose death in January triggered next week's by-election - Credit: Archant

Gooshays is gearing up for its fourth election – and second by-election – since 2006, which will take place next Thursday.

The ward – which currently has one Labour and one Tory councillor – has had a turbulent recent past. One of three councillors who ousted a Labour trio in 2006, Tory Cllr Dennis Bull held a seat until his death following a stroke at the end of January.

Incumbent Conservative Cllr Keith Wells and a candidate from the far-right British National Party were the other winners that year, with the election marking the first time the BNP had held a seat on Havering Council.

But their elected councillor, Alan Bailey, resigned after two years, blaming work pressures.

The BNP successfully contested the seat at the resulting 2008 by-election, with Mark Logan – now a councillor for the Independent Residents’ Group in Rainham and Wennington – winning the poll.

But Cllr Logan defected to the IRG after another two years, accusing the BNP of being “a bunch of racists” – and his seat went to Labour candidate Pat Murray in 2010.

Cllr Murray’s win took the number of Labour councillors in Harold Hill to four – making it the only area in Havering where the party dominates local politics.

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The ward encompasses the Hilldene shopping area, where a row has been raging over plans to introduce parking charges – a subject a number of candidates have chosen to use in their election campaigns.

Anyone who lives in Gooshays and whose name is on the electoral register can vote. If you are on the register, you should have received a polling card telling you where your local polling station is. If you haven’t, call the council on 01708 432444.

Stations will be open between 7am and 10pm. Make sure you get there in plenty of time, as they can’t issue you with a ballot paper after the cut-off – even if you’re already in the queue.

Click on the link under ‘Related stories’ in the top-right of this page to read profiles of all six candidates.

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