Residents campaigning against the ‘stink’ from the Walley’s Quarry landfill site in Silverdale will be contesting three seats in Newcastle-under-Lyme at the local elections this May.
Councillors representing 44 seats across 21 wards will be up for election on Thursday 5 May. Labour and Conservative candidates are standing in every ward, and there are also eight Liberal Democrats, three Greens, four Independents and one Trades Union and Socialist candidates standing.
Three of the four independent candidates are representing the ‘Stop the Stink’ campaign, which has now been running for a number of years. These are Tom Currie (Silverdale), Graham Eagles (Thistleberry), and Beckie Currie (Knutton). The other independent Izaak Johnson is also standing in Silverdale and Trades Union and Socialist candidate Becky Carter is standing in Kidsgrove and Ravenscliffe.
The Stop the Stink campaign was launched in response to the release of hydrogen sulphide fumes from Walley’s Quarry located between Knutton and Silverdale. Objections to a landfill site so close to their homes were lodged by residents in 1997, despite this the site opened in 2005 and has been operated by Red Industries since 2016.
Families living near to the quarry have reported breathing problems and nosebleeds among other symptoms caused by the fumes. The site and the waste dumped there have been investigated by the Environment Agency, but progress on resolving the serious problems reported has been slow.
In a Facebook post Beckie Currie wrote that she is ‘pleased and happy to be standing for Knutton a place where I was born and bred’. Also writing on Facebook Tom Currie said that if elected he and the two other candidates would ‘do everything in our power to stop the stink’, adding that ‘every vote for one of us sends a message to local and national government that they need to fix this issue now’.
Beckie Currie has been a prominent figure in the campaign against the ‘stink’. Since 2021 she has been involved in legal action against the Environment Agency claiming that fumes from the quarry have damaged the health of her son Matthew who has struggled with a range of chronic medical conditions since birth. The case has been referred to the European Court of Human Rights.
This May elections will take place in 21 unitary authorities, there will also be elections in 33 metropolitan boroughs and 22 London Boroughs, and will be important at the national as well as local level.
Labour launched their local election campaign with leader Kier Starmer saying the party wants to be ‘on the side’ of people struggling with the rising cost of living, arguing that the British people do not have ‘not have a government on the side of businesses, working families and pensioners’.
The Conservatives go into the local elections with chancellor Rishi Sunak facing questions about his Indian born wife claiming non-dom tax status – a legal way of avoiding large tax payments – and prime minister Boris Johnson having to defend his long-term plan for the UK’s energy security from criticism by environmentalists, and against claims that it does nothing to help people struggling with their energy bills now.
Local issues will dominate the campaigns in Newcastle-under-Lyme and elsewhere, but the leaders of the two main parties in particular will be watching results closely for a guide to their fortunes at the next general election.