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Six candidates compete for Smithfield ward vacancy

SIX candidates are vying for the vacant Smithfield seat on Wrexham Council.

Earlier this month a by-election was called for the ward after Plaid Cymru Cllr Paul Williams stepped down for health reasons, eight months after winning the seat in last year’s local elections.

As the seat is to be contested, Smithfield residents are now set to go to the polls on Thursday, February 23 with the list of those standing having been confirmed by Wrexham Council’s Returning Officer Ian Bancroft.

The candidates standing are Richard Bennett (Independent), Sion Edwards (Welsh Labour), Jayne Johnson (Independent), Jon Jolley (Plaid Cymru), Graham Kelly (Welsh Liberal Democrats), and Toni Prince (Independent).

Smithfield has been somewhat of a swing seat in recent elections, being held by Plaid Cymru for nearly a decade up until 2017 when it was won by Labour. Five years later Plaid Cymru wrestled the seat back at last year’s local elections when the party tripled its number of seats on the council.

In the last few weeks Grosvenor Cllr Marc Jones, leader of the Plaid group in Wrexham – the party which held the seat until it was vacated – has been taking on the concerns of Smithfield constituents until a new councillor for the ward is elected.

There are 56 seats on Wrexham Council representing 47 wards. The authority is currently led by a coalition of 22 Independent group councillors and nine Conservatives.

The largest opposition group is Labour with 14 councillors, followed by Plaid Cymru with eight councillors.

The other two councillors are both independents, not aligned to any group or political party.

There was a 25 per cent turn-out for the ward during last year’s local elections, with the seat being won by a seven per cent margin.

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Residents in the ward are encouraged to ensure that they are registered to vote. Applications to register to vote must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Wrexham Council by midnight on Tuesday, February 7.

Applications can be made online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.