THIS year's local elections in St Helens will see several independent candidates running once again.

There are currently three independent councillors at the town hall, who are not affiliated to a political party.

Independent candidates have risen in prominence in recent years, especially in Rainhill ward, which has seen independents elected at the last two elections, with James Tasker and Donna Greaves displacing the Labour incumbents in 2018 and 2019.

Here is what some of the independent candidates standing in 2021 said to the Star about the campaign and the issues they are running on:

Kate Stevenson (Rainhill)

St Helens Star:

"My manifesto is simple. To represent the best interests of the people of Rainhill, and to chase long overdue investment in Rainhill from St Helens Borough Council.

"Being an Independent candidate in local elections means I campaign for Rainhill and don’t answer to a party whip, which has been so problematic in St Helens with the local Labour Party recently, particularly with issues such as the local plan and greenbelt developments.

"I’m from Rainhill, as are generations of my family before me, so I understand the day to day issues here and I’ll campaign passionately to resolve them. I’m determined to chase long overdue investment in Rainhill, the Birthplace of the Railways, particularly the £400k promised to Rainhill in 2019 by previous Labour administrations that has never materialised.

"I’m already involved in multiple Rainhill groups such as the school COVID testing program, Rainhill Together, Rainhill Community Support Group, Rainhill Save our Greenbelt and of course, I am a Rainhill Independent Parish Councillor. Becoming a Ward Councillor is the natural next step in enabling me to continue my work for the people of Rainhill and our village.

"Rainhill has already shown its appetite for change and for honest politics with the switch to an Independent Parish, and two out of three Ward Councillors - it would be a remarkable achievement if Rainhill takes the final step into a genuinely fully Independent Village.

"I anticipate change will also happen in other wards within St Helens where local people believe St Helens Labour Council have overpromised and underdelivered, for far too long. We’re all tired of expensive consultations that lead to nowhere, and to nothing. All too often the National parties start out campaigning with the best interests of their Ward, but then they’re pulled off course and everything they initially set out to achieve becomes diluted, until the next election. As an Independent my focus is, and would always be firmly on Rainhill.

Mark Hitchen (town centre)

Mark Hitchen

Mark Hitchen

Mark said: "I work two jobs, I live in our town centre and I am your Independent candidate.

"Our communities are blighted by issues such as knife crime and vandalism, making our streets feel unsafe even for the hardiest among us, let alone those that are more vulnerable. It is perhaps then no surprise to you that we are the suicide capital of the UK.

"It’s time that local people had a voice, instead of relying on local politicians who are forced to take the labour whip.

"We need more police patrols so our children are safe to play on our green areas, more youth clubs with more youth workers and we desperately need to invest in mental health and suicide awareness.

"Give your community a chance to break free from petty party politics and put the needs of our residents first - make your vote count and your voice heard - vote Independent."

Terry Maguire (Earlestown)

"I am standing as a True independent candidate in this year’s local elections in the Earlestown ward. I intend to be a truly independent voice in our town, not one that is constrained by what you must do for your party and having to vote the way you are told and not the way you wish.

"I feel the time is right to challenge and scrutinise the some of the current ruling parties’ decisions and on many occasions, some of their councillors’ attitudes towards their electorate, as it leaves a lot to be desired. I believe all councillors should use the Nolan principles as their guide and sadly this falls down in many cases. I certainly believe we need more polite politics in our town.

"I am standing in Earlestown, mostly to listen to residents’ concerns and to be able to represent them fairly and equally, this I believe is the main role of any local councillor. Much too often our local councillors are not visible within their communities and in many cases are not known to the electorate. I wish to change that and be a councillor that people know they can approach for an even and unbiased view to help and mediate their concerns.

"I worry about the lack of policing in our area, this concerns many residents greatly, we need more on the beat, particularly at night around known anti-social behavioural hotspots. If elected I would lobby the new Police & Crime Commissioner on this issue. I would also arrange regular meetings with local police to discuss residents' worries and concerns.

"I am all in favour of the growth and regeneration of our town centre and Town Hall and would be happy to work with all sustainable plans to implement this. Over the years, there have been many promises for this to happen. Labour have left the Town Hall closed for 13 years, we can now watch to see if their promised plans and allocated monies come to fruition, if they remain in power. If they do and it is sustainable then I would be happy to work with them.

"I would also like to work and communicate with other councillors across the borough to discuss their projects and see if we can learn from each other.

"Our town also needs new initiatives to control littering and fly tipping. This is a big concern; discussions need to be held urgently on this matter.

"I worry very much about the youth, borough wide and feel they are a little lost, we are missing a connection with them and need to work hard to try and offer them more ways of employment and a better vision for their future. We need to know their concerns and why so many of them appear to feel angry.

"Having lived in Newton-le-Willows for the last 49 years, running a successful business that has trained and employed many from our town. Being a trustee of local Charity Business for Youth that has just finished a 13-month response to the pandemic for those in need and being a proud part of the rejuvenation of the Earlestown Christmas Lights. All this has taken a lot of hard work and hard work has never worried me and that is what I will give if I am elected.

"I am proud of our town, its heritage and its people, if elected I will be an honest, respectful and hardworking councillor for our community."

Other independent candidates standing are: Allen Makin (Bold); Dave Hawley (Sutton) and Martin Ellison (Parr).