CAMPAIGNING has begun in earnest after nominations closed and candidates were announced for Dudley Council and European elections on Thursday May 22.
Both The Green Party and UKIP are fielding candidates in every Dudley ward, as are Labour and the Conservatives.
But the Lib Dems, who in their pomp has 11 Dudley councillors, are only fighting four of the 24 Dudley borough wards.
Leading lib Dem Chris Bramall said: “We’re not at our strongest but we’ve never been able to put candidates in every ward in Dudley.
“We are the party only that consistently stands for doing something about climate change and that’s what we do in government now; and we’ve always been the party that’s said yes it’s important to get together with other countries in Europe, that increases our influence in the world.
“At one time we got a lot of votes from people who wanted to make a protest, when you go into government you’re taking responsibility and that’s what Nick Clegg did. He and David Cameron saved the country from a far worse recession.”
Dudley Green Party councillor Will Duckworth, who won in Netherton two years ago and is now deputy leader of the party, said: “We’re fielding candidates in every ward for the second year and we’re getting so many people helping us.
“We had three councillors in the West Midlands at the last European election in 2009 and now we’ve got 20.
“Throughout the West Midlands we expect to gain another four or five and in Dudley another one – possibly – in Netherton.”
The Greens, however, will have competition from UKIP – particularly in Netherton where disability rights campaigner Steve Daniels will be battling to win.
Dudley UKIP regional organiser Bill Etheridge is doing a political double act by standing in Sedgley for a Dudley Council seat and in the West Midlands Euro election. Fellow Sedgley UKIP member Lyndon Jones is also on the list of hopefuls trying to become a West Midlands Euro MP.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Conservatives, said: “We are the only party with a positive message and I believe we have the best group of candidates for a long time. The candidates all know their way round the council and we’ve got people with real-life experience.”
Cllr Harley (Kingswinford South) and fellow party stalwarts Tim Wright (Gornal) and Tina Westwood (Sedgley) are among those fighting to keep their seats.
While Dan Jones (Brierley Hill), a pharmacist, and Tim Wood (Quarry Bank and Dudley Wood), a self-employed carpenter, and Labour party member turned Tory Kamran Razzaq (Netherton, Woodside and St Andrew’s) are among the Tories' new hopefuls.
Labour won control of Dudley Council in 2012 and their leader, cllr David Sparks, said it would be difficult to predict how his party will fare this time round but added: "We’re confident but not complacent.”