I can confirm that the following are standing in the North Road by-election;
Ann-Marie Curry (LibDem)
John Hoodless (BNP)
George Jenkinson (Tory)
Steve Jones (Independent)
John Vasey (Labour)
Steve's candidacy has provoked some inevitable spluttering incredulity. Over at the Northern Echo, Pete Barron in his blog has said that Steve's decision to stand makes his blood boil. The front page of today's Echo carried an uncompromising headline "Ludicrous" and pointed out that not only would the by-election cost £11,000, but 2 schools would have to be shut for the day to accommodate polling.
Mike Barker for the LibDems is also spitting feathers. He hopes that Steve will heed the Echo headline, and withdraw before Wednesday. Some hope.
I have to say that beneath Mike's outrage, there's more than a little hint of fear. Remember, despite the bad publicity that Steve attracted last time, when he was national news and for all the wrong reasons, he still comfortably came second, sandwiched between Fred and Mike (now there's an image to conjure with). Not everyone reads the Echo, and I've always got the impression that Steve is personally well-liked around the ward. The LibDems would be far happier spinning half-truths about Labour alone in the contest in their Focuses, and having to attack Steve too could make them look shrill and negative.
Steve's candidacy, in which he and Labour's John Vasey are genuinely local people, throws the contest wide open. We're starting way, way behind the LibDems in this race (the difference between our leading candidate and Mike Barker in 3rd place for the LibDems last time was over 430 votes). Still, I shall be trudging up Eldon Street with a renewed spring in my step in the coming weeks.