Something interesting might just happen next May in Hollingbury and Stanmer. It has long been regarded as a safe Labour seat, and with three long-standing councillors set to defend their seats, one would normally expect them to win comfortably. Last time out, in 2007, Labour saw off the challenge from the Conservatives. Jeane Lepper topped the poll with 1,326 votes, with Christine Simpson second (1,056) and Pat Hawkes (1,046) surprisingly down at third. The nearest Conservative polled 838 votes.
A year or so ago, Pat Hawkes announced her intention to retire next May, but has since then decided to contest the seat again. However, her re-election is far from certain, nor is that of Christine Simpson who is not one of the most active ward councillors in the City, invisible at ward level and on the council. The exception is Jeane Lepper who is active, maintains a high profile and will certainly be re-elected.
But something interesting might just happen. There is a very small chance that the Conservatives will rally their support, but this is unlikely. It is the Greens who should be watched. Hollingbury and Stanmer is a key target. Unlike in 2007, the Greens are organising at the University of Sussex, and showed how much support at election time. What is more, a seasoned campaigner in the form of Regency Ward councillor Sven Rufus, who lives in Hollingdean, will be standing next May and he has been active building support.
With both Christine Simpson and Pat Hawkes vulnerable, the Greens have every chance of picking up two seats in May. If they achieve this, they will be a long way down the road of becoming the largest party on the City Council. My advice for non-Tories is to vote for Jeane Lepper, Sven Rufus and another Green. This will be such an interesting contest.