Herts County Council elections: Bishop's Stortford Conservatives deselect Colin Woodward in West division
Cllr Colin Woodward has vowed to continue serving his Bishop's Stortford constituents after Conservative colleagues decided he cannot stand as their candidate in May’s Herts County Council elections.
He has served the town’s West division since 2011 and romped to victory in 2017’s poll, receiving more votes than his four opponents put together.
However, two years after losing his district and town council seats, the twice former mayor has now been replaced as the Tory candidate by sitting East Herts councillor and former town councillor Cllr Alastair Ward-Booth, a trainee solicitor.
Cllr Ward-Booth, a former Bishop’s Stortford College student who graduated from Cambridge University in 2018, said: “As a young professional and a trainee solicitor, I look forward to bringing fresh perspectives to County Hall."
The party’s candidates for the two other Stortford seats will be sitting councillors John Wyllie and Graham McAndrew respectively.
Cllr Woodward, who lives in Parsonage Lane with wife Jan, said: “I intend to fulfil my obligations to the electorate and the Conservatives until an election is called, whenever that may be. After that, who knows? I shall certainly remain as active as I can in the community and don’t yet plan to ride off quite yet into the sunset of political obscurity.”
The vote is expected to take place on May 6, but the coronavirus pandemic has put a question mark over the process.
Cllr Woodward acknowledged that some of his critics would be celebrating, but said: “I feel that I would have liked to have continued to place myself before the electorate for quite some years to come as the Conservative candidate and continue the work I have been doing with and for the residents of Bishop’s Stortford West, where I have developed good networks and several initiatives.
“But every party is entitled to choose those whom it wishes to represent it, albeit that choice may be in the hands of few. The selection was, in my opinion, consistent with party rules, though the process and outcome did not ultimately favour myself.”
Cllr Woodward has served as the county council's deputy cabinet member for community safety and waste management and as a member of the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel; he was instrumental in setting up the town’s police cadet corps.
He was an East Herts councillor from 2011 to 2019 and chairs the Shaping Stortford steering group for the town centre. He is also active with Birchanger Wood Trust, Parsonage Residents Association and ASPECTS schools partnership.
His other interests include beekeeping and community service with the Rotary Club of Bishop’s Stortford’s Satellite Club.
Cllr McAndrew is the candidate for Stortford Rural division, which takes in Thorley, the Hadhams, Albury and the Pelhams. He has represented the area for eight years and sits on East Herts Council, where he is a cabinet member. He is also a former Stortford town councillor.
Cllr Wyllie will stand in the East division. He has been on the county council for four years and is also a district councillor and leader of Bishop's Stortford Town Council.
The Indie has contacted Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party for their candidate lists.