Three candidates are going head-to-head in a nail-biting contest for a single place on a town council.
It is understood that previous elections for Clare Town Council have been uncontested and its casual vacancies filled by co-option – where existing councillors choose a new councillor – making Thursday’s by-election residents’ first chance to vote locally for more than 20 years.
It was prompted by the resignation of long-serving councillor, Alan Parsley, who appears to have proposed Paula Rippingale, the only woman in the contest, as his replacement.
Ms Rippingale lives in Braintree but owns Rippingales Antiques and Collectables in the town’s High Street and co-owns Clare Auction.
She is interested in raising Clare’s profile as a tourist destination and feels her background in financial administration for the House of Commons Commission gives her relevant experience which may be of use to the town council.
The remaining two candidates both reside in the town.
As a businessman and father-of-two, Robin Stone – managing director of Clare Auction and owner of Market Hill Antiques – is currently working to revive Clare’s market and is known for being active in the community, having started several annual events and raised thousands of pounds to secure the continuity of the town’s biggest annual family event, its Christmas lights switch on.
He said Thursday’s election was important for democracy and he would ‘eagerly’ rise to the challenge of becoming a councillor.
A former professor of historical demography at the University of Cambridge and vice-master of Downing College, Richard Smith serves as vice chair of governors at Stour Valley Community School and the Clare Castle Country Park Trust, as well as chair of trustees at The Clare Ancient House Museum and Clare Historical and Archaeological Society.
He said he was excited to be involved in an election at such a ‘critical juncture’ in Clare’s development.
Voting will take place at the Old School Community Centre, in Callis Street, from 7am-10pm on Thursday.