Tories enter council battle

James Simpson. INBM15-14 SC
James Simpson. INBM15-14 SC

History will be created when the nominations close for the forthcoming council elections in the Causeway Coast and Glens with the inclusion for the first time in the Ballymoney and Moyle areas of the Conservative party.

James Simpson, a former Ulster Unionist who held a senior position within the party, will stand in the town’s electoral area in what is expected to be a tough battleground for the seats.

Mr. Simpson, a former Ballymoney councillor for some 22 years, served on a number of committees within the council as well as Government bodies. He was also a former chairman of the North Antrim Unionist Association.

His decision to defect to the Conservatives stemmed not only from his surprise non-selection as one of the two Unionist hopefuls in the Ballymoney area but his disillusionment at a number of party policies with which he strongly disagreed.

Mr Simpson, who runs a news agency in Main Street, Ballymoney, said he was proud to be standing for the Conservatives, a pro-Union centre right party that was distinctly Northern Irish, but still a full part of the U.K. Conservative party.

Mr Simpson who failed to gain a seat at the last local Government elections in 2011, has been a prominent figure in the business life in the Borough and is a director and past chairman of Acorn Business Centre as well as a past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.

He was also immediate past president of the Northern Ireland District of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents.

Nominations for the election formally open on April 14 and close on April 29. It is anticipated that there will be strong competition with as many as 18 candidates predicted for one electoral area alone.

In addition to the other mainstream parties, it is widely rumoured that the PUP will also field candidates locally.