Barnsley Independent Group to field candidates in every seat in this year's local election
May's council elections in Barnsley could be the most hotly contested in years with the town's BIG opposition group planning to field candidates for each of the seats in the contest.
The move is the latest twist in Barnsley's increasingly complex political landscape, which saw Labour lose seats last summer.
Other candidates will also be standing, with the Lib Dems expected to put up a substantial number.
That party was the biggest single winner last May, but candidates who took seats for the Barnsley Independent Group (BIG) and the Democrats and Veterans party joined forces to form the town's official opposition.
Now they have announced their strategy for this year's election, which involves fielding 21 candidates - covering all available seats.
The candidates have yet to be announced but are said to be local people who know their neighbourhoods well.
Existing councillors, including Victoria Felton, who stood as a Brexit candidate in the General Election, Phillip Burkinshaw, who is the BIG leader, Andrew Gillis, Gill Carr, Sam Danforth and Trevor Smith met this week to make the decision.
In a statement they said: “All the candidates are local people who know their wards, who are independent minded who want to change politics in Barnsley for good.
"A BIG local manifesto is due to be launched soon which has been put together following the feedback from residents over recent years."
Coun Felton, elected last May, said: “We elected councillors need to understand that we are the people’s servants and we must respond to their views their needs and their input.”
BIG leader Phil Birkinshaw said: “We have needed political reform for a long time and with a co-ordinated and sensible approach, I’m sure the public will respond with their support and their vote.”
Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said Labour would be fielding candidates in every seat and said: "As a democracy, people have a right to stand. They can rest assured Labour will be standing in every seat and have a strong track record of moving Barnsley forward and will continue to do that."
Hannah Kitching, leader of the Lib Dem group, said they would be fielding as many candidates as possible, with 21 ‘a goal’.