Thursday, 27 August 2015

By-election Preview: 27 August 2015

Just one by-election on 27th August 2015:

Barnsley metropolitan borough council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Dave Sim at the age of 64, following a fall at his home.  Sim had been involved with the local Labour party for many years but had only served on Barnsley council for a year, first being elected in 2014.

The Dearne North ward of Barnsley has a slightly misleading name, in that it is actually some way to the east of the River Dearne itself: instead, the name is a throwback to the old Dearne Urban District, abolished in 1974, of which this is the northern half.  The ward is based on the large village of Thurnscoe, around eight miles east of Barnsley off the main road to Doncaster, and also includes part of Goldthorpe to the south.  These are unambiguously pit villages, and pit villages of quite recent vintage: Hickleton Colliery (the main pit for Thurnscoe) closed in 1986, Goldthorpe Colliery in 1994.  Hickleton Colliery's spoil heap has now been landscaped and turned into a public park (Phoenix Park), and the site of the colliery has now been redeveloped into social housing.  The colliery closures created a seriously despressed local economy, and one of the works undertaken to try and improve the area was the opening of Thurnscoe's railway station in 1988, with hourly trains south to Rotherham and Sheffield and north to Wakefield and Leeds.

The former Dearne Thurnscoe ward, which covered most of this area until 2004, was a Labour monolith, but a change in the parties contesting the area has led to an erosion in the Labour vote.  However, this shouldn't be overstated as the only seriously close result was in 2004, when the Labour slate beat a single Lib Dem candidate 49-39.  Second place in the ward was taken over by the BNP in 2007 and 2008, by the Barnsley Independent Group (once the main opposition on Barnsley council) from 2010 to 2012, and by UKIP since 2014.  In May's ordinary election Labour beat UKIP here 66-27.

Defending for Labour is Annette Gollick, who is the only candidate to give an address within the ward.  UKIP's candidate is Jim Johnson, who fought his home North East ward (based on Grimethorpe) in May's elections.  Also standing are Lee Ogden for the Conservatives, Yorkshire First's Tony Devoy and Karen Fletcher of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Parliamentary constituency: Wentworth and Dearne
ONS Travel to Work Area: Barnsley
Postcode district: S63

May 2015 result Lab 2668 UKIP 1112 C 284
May 2014 result Lab 1179 UKIP 752 C 103
May 2012 result Lab 1314 Barnsley Ind Gp 501 C 87
May 2011 result Lab 1665 Barnsley Ind Gp 501 BNP 246
May 2010 result Lab 2278 Barnsley Ind Gp 647 BNP 595 C 348
May 2008 result Lab 853 BNP 392 Barnsley Ind Gp 375 LD 316 C 186
May 2007 result Lab 1013 BNP 466 LD 464 C 116 Barnsley Ind Gp 102
May 2006 result Lab 1011 LD 453 Barnsley Ind Gp 234 C 129
June 2004 result Lab 1319/1302/1271 LD 1065 C 322

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

By-election Previews: 20 August 2015

Three by-elections on Thursday 20th August 2015. One covered over on Cornish Elections and two below.

Durham council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Robin Todd at the age of 74.  An electrician who started work at 17 as an apprentice at South Hetton pit, Todd served continuously as a councillor for 51 years, first being elected at the age of 23 to the long-abolished Easington Rural District Council.  Once election agent to the local MP Manny Shinwell, and chairman of Easington district council in 1976-77, his legacy will be the Robin Todd Centre, a community centre in South Hetton opened in 2002 and named in his honour.  Todd was appointed MBE in 2006 for services to local government, was a founder member of the unitary Durham council in 2009, and just a week before his death was elected as vice-chairman of Durham council.

This is a classic ex-coalmining division based on pit villages.  Shotton Colliery, at the south end of the ward, is just off the A19 road west of Peterlee and was based on a large colliery which was first developed in 1840 and closed in 1972.  South Hetton, to the north-west on the Houghton-Easington road, was based around a colliery which operated continuously from 1831 to 1982, but is probably better known for the so-called "one-armed bandit murder" of Angus Sibbet in 1967, one of the North East's most notorious criminal cases.  In between is Haswell, the birthplace of the ill-fated British cyclist Tommy Simpson.

This is the former Easington district of Durham, one of the strongest Labour areas in the country: Todd's last two re-elections to the former Easington district council, from the Easington Village and South Hetton ward, were unopposed.  In 2013, the only previous result on the present division boundaries, the Labour slate had 43% of the vote, with an independent polling 33% and a "FAIR and Independent" candidate (one of several in the Peterlee area) coming last with 24%.

Defending for Labour is Alan Liversidge, the chairman of Haswell parish council and a local historian.  He is opposed by, in ballot paper order, Michael Anderson for the Lib Dems; Beaty Bainbridge, a former Durham councillor from Chester-le-Street who appears to be the go-to Tory candidate for Durham by-elections at the moment; Ted Hall, from Shotton Colliery, for the North East Party; Lee-James Harris, who gives an address in Bishop Auckland, for UKIP; and Peterlee resident Martie Warin for the Green Party.

May 2013 result Lab 893/871 Independent 686 FAIR and Independent 493

Parliamentary constituency: Easington
ONS Travel to Work Area: Sunderland
Postcode districts: DH6, SR8

West Oxfordshire district council
Caused by the resignation of independent councillor David Snow.  Snow was first elected in 2012, as a Conservative candidate, but then left the party over the issue of gay marriage; his resignation from the council came due to work commitments.

This is, obviously, the northern end of the town of Witney, along the Crawley, Hailey and New Yatt roads.  Witney is the major town of West Oxfordshire district and is based around a crossing-point of the River Windrush: it has lost its traditional blanket industry, but is still known as the home of the Wychwood Brewery, whose flagship drink Hobgoblin is brewed here.  Witney is part of the constituency of the Prime Minister David Cameron, who presented Barack Obama with twelve bottles of Hobgoblin during a G20 summit in Toronto in 2010.  West Oxfordshire district council's offices are located within the ward and form one of the two polling stations.

The presence of Witney within the PM's constituency is a boost for the Tory vote here, although this ward was narrowly won by the Lib Dems in 2003 before their vote faded away.  The main peculiarity of the ward is the strength of the local Green Party, who normally finish second here, although they lost second spot to Labour at the most recent local elections in May.  In May's poll the Tories won with 50%, well ahead of Labour on 19% and the Greens on 14%.

The Tories want their seat back, and have selected Carol Reynolds who represents this ward on Witney town council.  Back on the campaign trail for Labour, having stood in May's ordinary election, is Oxford Tube coach driver Trevor License.  The Green Party have reselected Brigitte Hickman, a teacher and bicycle enthusiast.  Also standing are UKIP's James Robertshaw, who is nominated by the outgoing councillor David Snow, and Diane West for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Witney
Oxfordshire county council division: Witney North and East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Oxford
Postcode district: OX28

May 2015 result C 1120 Lab 419 Grn 323 UKIP 259 LD 136
May 2012 result C 450 Grn 286 Lab 179 LD 120
May 2011 result C 798 Grn 261 Lab 214 LD 210
May 2008 result C 594 Grn 314 LD 189
May 2007 result C 588 Grn 368 LD 189
June 2004 result C 569 Grn 324 LD 239 Lab 128
May 2003 result LD 439 C 405 Grn 208
May 2002 result C 491/484 LD 387 Grn 324 Lab 234

Thursday, 13 August 2015

By-election Previews: 13 August 2015

Six by-elections this week in an unusually busy August, with two each in England, Wales and Scotland.  One of the Welsh and both the Scottish polls are caused by newly-elected MPs resigning their council seats.

Warwickshire county council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Martin Heatley on health grounds.  Heatley, who has since died at the age of 71, had been a Warwickshire county councillor since 1993 and was the council's cabinet member for the environment; until May he was vice-chairman of the county council.  At the time of his resignation he was also facing allegations of benefit fraud.

It was Nuneaton that provided the "Basildon moment" of the 2015 general election: as one of the first marginal seats to declare its result, it was when the Conservatives increased their majority in the seat that it became clear that Labour were not going to form a government, thus plunging the party into an interminable leadership election (is there really another month of this to go?).  Much of the Tory vote within Nuneaton will have come from Whitestone, an area of postwar housing at the town's south-eastern corner off the Lutterworth Road.  The figure which really sticks out from Whitestone ward's census statistics is the owner-occupied percentage, which at 94.3% is the eighth-highest figure for any ward in England and Wales: there are also relatively high proportions of people with apprenticeships, and Sikhs.  The White Stone of the name can be found at the junction of Lutterworth Road, Bulkington Lane and Golf Drive.

However, differing boundaries at ward and county level make the comparison rather difficult: Whitestone county division only includes part of Whitestone ward, with the other half of the division coming from Attleborough on the other side of the West Coast Main Line.  Attleborough is an older area and much more socially mixed.

This difference is reflected in the local election results, although comparison is difficult as Nuneaton and Bedworth was one of the few English districts which did not hold local elections in May this year.  Whitestone ward is solidly Conservative, while Attleborough is a key marginal ward which Labour gained from the Tories at the most recent borough election in 2014.  This adds up to a safe Tory county division which Heatley won 53-31 at his last re-election in 2013.

Defending for the Tories is Jeff Morgan, a photographer and community activist who won a by-election to Nuneaton and Bedworth borough council from Arbury ward (in the south-west of the town) in December 2013, but lost his seat at the ordinary election five months later.  He should have an easier ride here.  Labour have reselected their 2013 candidate Andrew Crichton, a barman in his mid-twenties.  Also standing are Mick Ludford for the Green Party and Alwyn Waine for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Nuneaton
Nuneaton and Bedworth borough council wards: Attleborough (part), Whitestone (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Coventry
Postcode district: CV11

May 2013 result C 1173 Lab 697 Grn 348
June 2009 result C 1646 Lab 529 BNP 432 Grn 424
May 2005 result C 2748 Lab 2067

Exeter city council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Simon Bowkett, who is concentrating on his role as chief executive of the charity Exeter Council for Voluntary Service.  He had served on Exeter city council since 2012, gaining his seat from the Conservatives.

Incorporated into Exeter in 1966, Pinhoe is the north-eastern corner of Exeter, hard up against the M5 motorway.  Pinhoe was the site of a battle in 1001 in which Danish forces, fresh from besieging Exeter, defeated a Saxon army; another legacy of war is that the local community centre, America Hall, was built using funds donated by the families of US service personnel stationed here during the Second World War.  Pinhoe's railway station reopened in 1983, with hourly or two-hourly trains to Exeter St Davids and London Waterloo.  The main curiosity from the ward's census figures is a very high proportion of part-time workers.

At local level this is a hard-fought marginal where majorities are often tiny: Labour by 55 votes in 2004, Conservative gain by 83 votes in 2008, Labour gain by 4 votes in September 2010, Labour hold by 34 votes at the most recent election here in 2014, in which Labour had 37%, the Tories 35% and UKIP were a strong third with 19%; that 2014 poll was also notable for seeing one of the few local election candidates from the UKIP splinter group An Independence from Europe, who didn't quite manage 1% here.  Labour have less trouble at county level in which Pinhoe is paired with the safe Mincinglake city ward.

Defending for Labour is David Harvey.  The Conservatives have selected Cynthia Thompson, who was a councillor for this ward between 2008 and 2012, losing her seat to Bowkett, and has been trying to get back ever since.  Alison Sheridan, who fought St Loyes ward in the 2015 city elections, stands for UKIP.  Also on the ballot paper are Michael Payne for the Lib Dems, John Moreman for the Green Party and independent candidate David Smith.

May 2014 result Lab 862 C 828 UKIP 460 Grn 116 LD 71 An Independence from Europe 23
May 2012 result Lab 1022 C 742 UKIP 240 LD 69 Grn 68
Sept 2010 result Lab 903 C 899 UKIP 104 LD 74 Grn 48
May 2008 result C 993 Lab 910 Lib 212 LD 151
May 2006 result C 1071 Lab 735 LD 165 UKIP 133 Grn 110
June 2004 result Lab 952 C 897 LD 334
May 2002 result Lab 987 C 663 LD 204 Grn 65

Parliamentary constituency: Exeter
Devon county council division: Pinhoe and Mincinglake
ONS Travel to Work Area: Exeter and Newton Abbot
Postcode districts: EX1, EX4

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

By-election Previews: 30 July 2015

Five by-elections on 30th July 2015.  Three will be held in mid-size English towns, two in the Midlands and one in Northumberland; while on Scottish Elections the SNP will try to hold two seats in Aberdeen after their councillors were elected to Parliament in the recent SNP surge.

Northumberland council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Jimmy Sawyer at the age of 64, from pulmonary fibrosis.  A founder member of the unitary Northumberland council in 2008, Sawyer had started his political career on the former Wansbeck district council and worked for thirty years at Ellington Colliery.

Welcome to Ashington, one of the major towns of Northumberland around 15 miles north of Newcastle.  By tradition the world's biggest mining village, Ashington was called into existence in the 1840s when the Duke of Portland developed housing for workers at his collieries, and to encourage immigration from Ireland which was at the time in the grip of the potato famine.  Coal-mining was the dominant industry here right up to 2005 when Ellington Colliery closed.  Apart from coal, Ashington is known for the Ashington Group or Pitmen Painters, an art group made up of local miners, and for producing a very large number of professional footballers, most notably the Milburn and Charlton brothers.  It's perhaps fitting that the town is represented in Parliament by the former NUM chairman Ian Lavery, whose two sons both represent this division on Ashington town council.

The College division lies in the Hirst area of the town east of the railway line, and is named after what is now Northumberland College, the town's main FE provider; it runs down to the north bank of the River Wansbeck.  Most of the division's housing is of 1960s vintage and the population bears the hallmarks of ex-coalmining areas: almost uniformly British with high levels of unemployment, social housing and no qualifications.  Its politics also fall into that pattern: the only previous result on these boundaries (in 2013) saw Labour poll 90.7% in a straight fight with the Conservatives.

Defending for Labour is Ashington town councillor Mark Purvis, who faces opposition fom the Tories' Chris Galley, UKIP's Peter Curtis and the Lib Dems' Andy McGregor.

Parliamentary constituency: Wansbeck
ONS Travel to Work Area: Morpeth, Ashington and Alnwick

May 2013 result Lab 878 C 90

Wychavon district council, Worcestershire
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Glenise Noyes at the age of 71.  The Mayor of Droitwich in 2008/09, Mrs Noyes had been first elected to Wychavon district council in 2011 for Droitwich Central ward, and had moved to Droitwich East ward in May's election just a few weeks before her death.

Here we are in one of the oldest towns in Worcestershire.  The Anglo-Saxon suffix "wich" and the Roman name "Salinae" both give clues as to Droitwich's major industry: salt.  There are massive salt deposits underneath the town, some of which comes up to the surface in a series of pits which are almost pure brine and as concentrated as the Dead Sea.  In the nineteenth century Droitwich became a spa town, with swimming in the water marketed as providing muscle relief.  Since the Second World War Droitwich's population has trebled as a result of Birmingham overspill, thanks to the town's proximity to the M5 motorway and the relatively good railway service, with three trains each hour to Worcester and Birmingham.

Droitwich East ward covers the east of the town, hard up against the M5; its census statistics show a relatively high number of over-65s.  It has consistently returned two Conservatives to Wychavon council, although the 2003 result was quite close between the Tories and Labour.  In May's ordinary election the Tories had a comfortable win with 44% against divided opposition, with 21% for Labour, 20% for UKIP and 15% for the Lib Dems; all the opposition parties only had single candidates, pointing to a lack of organisation in the area.  The Droitwich East county division, which covers the whole of this ward and parts of two other wards, is more interesting: in 2005 Labour win a three-way marginal fight, but didn't defend their seat in 2009 with the Tories gaining in a close fight with the Lib Dems, while at the most recent county election in 2013 a residents' group came a strong second.

Those same four parties are contesting this by-election.  Hoping to gather the fallen and lift the masses is lingerie company boss Karen Tomalin, who is the defending Conservative candidate.  The Labour candidate is Jacqui O'Reilly, chair of Mid Worcestershire CLP who fought Droitwich West ward in May; she gives an address in Kidderminster.  The only candidate for this ward to return from May, and the only one to give an address in Droitwich, is Andy Morgan for UKIP.  Completing the ballot paper is the Lib Dem candidate Rory Roberson, from Fernhill Heath near Worcester.

Parliamentary constituency: Mid Worcestershire
Worcestershire county council division: Droitwich East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Worcester and Malvern

May 2015 result C 1587/1201 Lab 775 UKIP 724 LD 534
May 2011 result C 1033/998 Lab 585/538 LD 343
May 2007 result C 899/859 Lab 577/555 LD 408
May 2003 result C 788/716 Lab 691/667

North Kesteven district council, Lincolnshire
Caused by the resignation of Lincolnshire Independents councillor Jill Wilson on health grounds.  First elected to the district council here in 2007 as a Liberal Democrat candidate, she retired in 2011 but returned to the council in May's ordinary election.

Named after Mill Lane, this ward lies at the south-western edge of the Lincoln urban area.  It forms part of North Hykeham, a Lincoln suburb which has never been incorporated into the city proper.  The ward is relatively well off with high levels of full-time employment.

The Conservatives have consistently held one, but only one, of the two district council seats in this ward.  In 2007 the other seat went to Jill Wilson, the single Liberal Democrat candidate, who topped the poll.  Wilson stood down in 2011 and her seat was won by independent candidate Helen Clark in a close three-way result.  The 2015 election saw the Tory slate opposed only by Jill Wilson, standing for the Lincolnshire Independents, who defeated the second Tory candidate by eight votes.  At county level almost all of the ward is within the Skellingthorpe and Hykeham South division, which has been Lib Dem-held since 2009.

There is no defending Lincolnshire Independents candidate in this by-election, so this seat is up for grabs.  There is an independent candidacy in the shape of John Bishop, a former Lib Dem district councillor for another North Hykeham ward who lost his seat in May; he is standing under the "Hykeham Independents" label.  Mike Clarke, the Tory candidate who lost by eight votes in May, returns to the fray; he is the husband of the ward's Tory councillor since 2011 Andrea Clarke.  Also on the ballot paper are Elizabeth Bathory-Porter of the Green Party, Diana Catton of the Lib Dems and Terence Dooley for Labour.

Parliamentary constituency: Sleaford and North Hykeham
Lincolnshire county council division: (almost all) Skellingthorpe and Hykeham South
ONS Travel to Work Area: Lincoln

May 2015 result C 1478/1005 Lincs Ind 1013
May 2011 result C 495/314 Ind 463 Lincs Ind 458
May 2007 result LD 396 C 315/304 UKIP 157

By-election Previews: 23 July 2015

Five by-elections on 23rd July 2015, with Labour defending four (one of which will be covered on Welsh Elections) and the Lib Dems one.

North East Lincolnshire council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Mick Burnett.

It's July, the schools are out, the weather's nice (probably), so what else to do but go to the seaside?  The curiously-named Croft Baker ward covers the seafront and town centre of Cleethorpes, running south-east and south-west from the town's pier.  Like many resorts, Cleethorpes has seen better days, and the 2011 census paints a run-down picture: high levels of no qualifications, part-time work, unemployment and semi-routine occupations.  Not an unusual story for the seaside, where work is often low-paid and difficult to come by.

In the current political climate this ward is safe for Labour, although it was a Lib Dem-inclined marginal during the Noughties and UKIP came close in 2014.  Mick Burnett had gained his seat from the Lib Dems in 2007, and at his last re-election just two months ago he won with 40% of the vote, with the Tories (27%) and UKIP (23%) disputing second place.

Defending for Labour is Annie Darby, a former Lib Dem councillor (for Yarborough ward) who defected to Labour in 2013.  The Tories have re-selected their May candidate Hayden Dawkins, a letting agent.  UKIP's candidate Graham Critchley, a health and safety instructor, is also straight back on the campaign trail.  In fact the Lib Dems are the only opposition party to change their candidate from May, Roy Horobin being their replacement; also on the ballot paper are James Barker for the Green Party and Dave Mitchell for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Parliamentary constituency: Cleethorpes

May 2015 result Lab 2056 C 1370 UKIP 1202 LD 220 Grn 202 TUSC 95
May 2014 result Lab 1031 UKIP 885 Ind 424 C 352 TUSC 104 LD 61
May 2012 result Lab 1327 UKIP 448 LD 418 C 364
May 2011 result Lab 1619 C 964 LD 460
May 2010 result Lab 1853 C 1521 LD 1198 UKIP 410 Ind 105
May 2008 result LD 1052 Lab 890 C 774 Ind 166
May 2007 result Lab 984 LD 975 C 621 Ind 222
May 2006 result LD 1217 Lab 943 Ind 463
June 2004 result LD 1242 Lab 1117 Ind 762 Ind 412 Ind 129
May 2003 result LD 1326/1135/1286 Lab 1250/1124/1078

Westminster city council, London
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Nilavra Mukerji.

This is in the north-west corner of the City of Westminster, within the W9 (Maida Vale) postal district generally to the north of the eponymous Harrow Road and radiating from its junction with Elgin Avenue.  Like much of central London, this is a heavily immigrant area: the White British population of 29% is one of the lowest scores in the country, while there are very high populations of Irish people (2%), people from EU-15 countries (8%) and people aged between 30 and 44 (31%).  43% of the ward's households are socially rented, indicating this is very much the more downmarket end of Westminster.

This is reflected in the ward's election results, which are safe for Labour.  At the last London borough elections in 2014 the Labour slate had 58% here, the Tory slate's 18% being best of the rest.  Flicking back a few years, at the bottom of the Conservative slate here in the 2002 was one Edward Vaizey, who has since gone on to greater things as MP for a safe Tory seat in Oxfordshire and as a junior minister responsible for digital industries.

In a three-cornered race, the defending Labour candidate is Tim Roca, a former president of Lancaster University Students' Union who was Labour candidate for his native Macclesfield in the recent general election.  The Tory candidate is Wilford Augustus, a digital PR consultant, and UKIP have selected Robert Stephenson, who fought the Cities of London and Westminster in the general election.

Parliamentary constituency: Westminster North

May 2014 result Lab 1788/1493/1415 C 546/406/349 Grn 464 UKIP 308
May 2010 result Lab 2730/2316/2137 LD 1152 C 1120/1018/950 Grn 740 UKIP 218
May 2006 result Lab 1036/899/877 C 523/520/520 LD 411/369/325
July 2005 by-election Lab 774 C 306 LD 150
May 2002 result Lab 1029/952/942 C 362/328/287 Grn 289 LD 278

Elmbridge borough council, Surrey
Caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Toni Izard.

For our second London-area by-election of the week we head out to the suburbs.  Just outside the Greater London boundary, Long Ditton is a residential area on the south bank of the River Thames, bisected by the Portsmouth Road and the South Western Main Line, although there is no station here.  While its census stats bear some of the London hallmarks, the figures which stand out are that 55% of the adult population work in some form of management and 49% hold a degree-level qualification.  Truly this is where the middle classes live.

From being a normally safe Lib Dem ward in the Blair and Brown years this ward has developed into a close Lib Dem/Tory marginal: in May's ordinary election the Lib Dems beat the Tories by 46% to 45%, a majority of 49 votes.  Despite this marginal status, the only time the Tories have actually won Long Ditton this century was a rather freakish 21-vote victory in 2008.  Toni Izard recovered that seat in 2012 with a majority of 28.

Defending for the Lib Dems is Neil Houston, who from 2010 to 2014 was a councillor for the neighbouring Surbiton Hill ward of Kingston upon Thames council.  The Tory candidate from May, Hugh Evans, is straight back on the campaign trail; he works for the NHS and also broadcasts on a local radio station (Brooklands Radio).  Also straight back on the stump is UKIP's Susannah Cunningham, and the ballot paper is completed by Laura Harmour who is the ward's first Green Party candidate for twelve years.

Parliamentary constituency: Esher and Walton

May 2015 result LD 1635 C 1586 UKIP 313
May 2014 result LD 1105 C 602 UKIP 259 Lab 158
May 2012 result LD 916 C 888 Lab 151
May 2011 result LD 1072 C 1029 Lab 223
May 2010 result LD 2022 C 1347
May 2008 result C 891 LD 870 Lab 84
May 2007 result LD 864 C 612 Lab 67
May 2006 result LD 1022 C 674 Lab 82
June 2004 result LD 1018 C 615 Lab 98
May 2003 result LD 760 C 415 Grn 102
May 2002 result LD 846 C 498 Lab 100

Blackburn with Darwen council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Carol Walsh.

South-west of the town centre, this ward is centred on the Mill Hill railway station on the Blackburn-Preston line.  The census stats show that this is a white working-class area of town, and the ward's safe Labour status bears this out - although the Lib Dems did win the predecessor to this ward in 2002 and nicked one of the three seats here at the first election on the current boundaries, in 2004.  The Lib Dem councillor lost his seat in 2007 and has been trying to get back ever since with an increasing lack of success.  UKIP took over second place in 2014, and in May's ordinary election Labour had 50% to 28% for UKIP and 17% for the Conservatives.

Defending for Labour is Carl Nuttall, seeking to make a quick return to Blackburn with Darwen council after losing his seat to the Tories in May in the neighbouring Meadowhead ward.  He shoud have an easier ride here.  All three of the unsuccessful candidates fom May try again: they are Michael Longbottom for UKIP, Helen Tolley for the Tories and former councillor Alan Dean for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Blackburn

May 2015 result Lab 1084 UKIP 618 C 375 LD 100
May 2014 result Lab 772 UKIP 401 C 149
May 2012 result Lab 874 C 175 LD 122
May 2011 result Lab 967 C 264 LD 220
May 2010 result Lab 1055 LD 583 C 436 BNP 332
May 2008 result Lab 676 LD 608
May 2007 result Lab 668 England First Party 302 LD 281 BNP 216 C 195
May 2006 result Lab 727 BNP 437 C 268 LD 266
June 2004 result Lab 758/520/507 LD 655/437/389 BNP 377 C 321 Ind 169

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

By-election Previews: 16 July 2015

Apologies for the lack of an article last week - your regular writer was unfortunately unwell, and your editor was too busy settling into his new day job to stand in.  One of these days I might actually clear my to-do list...

Eight by-elections on 16th July 2015, six in England and two in Wales:

Rother district council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Martin Noakes on health grounds.  Noakes had served as a councillor for just three weeks.

A few miles to the north-west of Hastings, Battle is inextricably linked with the events of 14th October 1066, the misnamed "Battle of Hastings" in which William, Duke of Normandy, put an end to the succession crisis following the death of King Edward the Confessor by defeating and killing Harold Godwinson, ending Saxon rule over England.  And the rest is history.  The Normans built an abbey on the site of the battlefield, which was dedicated in 1095, and a town grew up around Battle Abbey which now has a population of around 6,000.  Although the town was known in the eighteenth century for production of high-quality gunpowder, the main industry here now is tourism.

Battle's civil parish sprawls around a fairly large area of Sussex, but this ward consists only of the town itself.  Over the last fifteen years it has normally been a safe Liberal Democrat ward, but May's local election saw the Lib Dems narrowly lose one of the ward's two seats to a single Conservative candidate.  That result probably came as a surprise to the new Conservative councillor, who was not in the best of health during the campaign.  The surviving Lib Dem councillor is also the county councillor for the wider Battle and Crowhurst division and clearly has a personal vote: in May she gave the Lib Dem slate 47% of the vote to 38% for the Tory, the remaining 15% going to the Labour candidate.

Hazel Sharman defends for the Conservatives; she gives an address in Robertsbridge.  The defeated Lib Dem councillor in May, Kevin Dixon, wants his seat back.  Also on the ballot paper are Timothy Macpherson for Labour and the ward's first UKIP candidate, Tony Smith.

Parliamentary constituency: Bexhill and Battle
East Sussex county council division: Battle and Crowhurst
ONS Travel to Work Area: Hastings

May 2015 result LD 1481/1134 C 1199 Lab 469
May 2011 result LD 960/778 C 640/529 Lab 276 Grn 261
May 2007 result LD 892/759 C 649/532 Lab 165
May 2003 result LD 668/664 C 599/560 Lab 182

Norfolk county council
Caused respectively by the disqualification of UKIP councillor Matthew Smith and by the resignation of Labour councillor Deborah Gihawi.  Smith has pleaded guilty to causing or permitting a false statement to be included in nomination papers for the 2013 election.  Gihawi had fallen out with the Labour party over a Facebook comment she made on Jews, and had resigned her seat on Norwich city council earlier in the year; her resignation came shortly after her Labour party membership was reinstated.

These divisions are both urban.  Gorleston St Andrews division can be found in Great Yarmouth, based on the seaside resort of Gorleston-on-Sea at the mouth of the River Yare.  Mile Cross division is in north-western Norwich along the Drayton Road, and has the same boundaries as the Norwich city council ward of the same name; over half the households are socially rented, and nearly 5% of its population came from the new EU states according to the last census.

The Gorleston St Andrews by-election will be an interesting indication of the health of UKIP at the moment: Great Yarmouth is one of the party's strongest areas and Smith was the party's PPC for Great Yarmouth until the electoral fraud allegations came to light.  UKIP gained what had been a safe Conservative division in 2013, with a majority of 20 votes over the Labour candidate Tony Wright, who had been MP for Great Yarmouth from 1997 to 2010.  The division is made up of the Gorleston and St Andrews wards of Great Yarmouth council; St Andrews was Tory until 2008 but has been Labour since then, including in May's election, while the normally Tory-inclined Gorleston ward was last up in 2014, which was the year UKIP won on the way to getting ten out of a possible thirteen seats in the borough.

Adrian Myers defends this seat for UKIP; he is a Great Yarmouth borough councillor representing the rural Lothingland ward.  The Labour candidate is one of the few local by-election candidates to have their own Wikipedia page; he is Tony Wright, the former MP for Great Yarmouth.  The Tories have selected Graham Plant, another Great Yarmouth borough councillor (for Bradwell North ward).  Also on the ballot paper are Tony Harris for the Lib Dems and Harry Webb for the Green Party.

Mile Cross is normally a Labour area, but the Lib Dems won one of the city council seats in 2004, which was the first election on the current boundaries, going on to hold that seat in a July 2006 by-election; and the Green Party carried the area in the 2009 county council election.  Gihawi gained the Lib Dem city council seat in 2008 and the Green county council seat in 2013.  In May's city council election Labour had a big lead in a rather fragmented result, with 37% to 20% each for the Tories and UKIP and 18% for the Greens.  Labour's defending candidate is Chrissie Rumsby, who is opposed by Richard Edwards for the Green Party, Michelle Ho for UKIP, Chelsea Bales for the Tories and Tom Dymoke for the Lib Dems.

Gorleston St Andrews
Parliamentary constituency: Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth borough council wards: Gorleston, St Andrews
ONS Travel to Work Area: Great Yarmouth

May 2013 result UKIP 874 Lab 854 C 653
June 2009 result C 1223 UKIP 728 Lab 572
May 2005 result C 1798 Lab 1654 LD 736 UKIP 225

Mile Cross
Parliamentary constituency: Norwich North
Norwich city council ward: Mile Cross
ONS Travel to Work Area: Norwich

May 2015 city council result Lab 1675/1410 C 921/653 UKIP 905 Grn 802/605 LD 272/204
May 2014 city council result Lab 986 UKIP 568 Grn 481 C 292 LD 112
May 2013 result Lab 913 Grn 435 UKIP 397 C 217 LD 86
May 2012 city council result Lab 1019 Grn 409 C 297 LD 134
May 2011 city council result Lab 1227 C 445 Grn 343 LD 288 UKIP 105
Sept 2010 city council result Lab 797 LD 455 C 266 Grn 238 UKIP 90
June 2009 result Grn 620 Lab 614 C 547 LD 318
May 2008 city council result Lab 778 C 443 LD 439 Grn 325
May 2007 city council result Lab 1013 LD 707 C 305 Grn 298
July 2006 city council by-election LD 789 Lab 702 Grn 115 C 106
May 2006 city council result Lab 849 LD 700 Grn 250 C 235
May 2005 result Lab 1787 LD 799 C 537 Grn 322
June 2004 city council result LD 936/656/642 Lab 897/862/785 C 250/236/205 Grn 249/190/159 Legalise Cannabis Alliance 108

Tendring district council
Caused by the resignation of UKIP councillor Len Sibbald after just a few weeks in office.

The week's third by-election in the East of England, and another indicator of the current health of UKIP in their strongest area.  Rush Green is a ward on the western edge of Clacton-on-Sea, which is of course the constituency of UKIP's only MP Douglas Carswell.  It was a Labour ward in 2003, but the Tories gained convincingly in 2007 only to just as convincingly lose to UKIP in May: UKIP had 48% in May to 30% for the Conservatives and 21% for Labour.

Since May's election there have been some interesting machinations on Tendring council.  In the election UKIP were the second largest party on 22 seats, one seat behind the Conservatives who were themselves eight seats short of a majority.  The Tories offered UKIP a coalition deal, and the UKIP group split down the middle over whether to accept it; eight UKIP councillors eventually agreed to being part of the administration, a decision which has led to their being kicked out of the party.  Len Sibbald himself was briefly part of the rebel group before coming back into the official party fold and promptly resigning his seat.

Defending for UKIP is Richard Everett.  Danny Mayzes, the Tory councillor who lost his seat in May, wants it back.  The Labour candidate is Samantha Atkinson, and also standing is independent candidate William Hones.

Parliamentary constituency: Clacton
Essex county council division: Clacton North
ONS Travel to Work Area: Clacton

May 2015 result UKIP 870/751 C 540/439 Lab 385/357
May 2011 result C 491/467 Lab 374/344 LD 121/109 BNP 104
May 2007 result C 544/509 Lab 360/359
May 2003 result Lab 300/283 LD 224/217 C 198

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
Caused by the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Chrissie Hitchcock.  Twice Mayor of Kingston, Hitchcock had represented Grove ward since 1990.

This week's London by-election is in Kingston upon Thames, a borough which is coming out in by-elections like a rash; this is the third Grove by-election in as many years, and the second in three months.  The Grove ward covers the town centre, running south from the railway station along the riverfront past the town hall, Surrey County Hall and Kingston University.  Several Saxon kings were crowned here in days of olden time, and as a result the town has the status of a Royal Borough.

The Conservatives won the Kingston parliamentary constituency two months ago, defeating the Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey.  Davey knew he had a fight on his hands, with a July 2012 by-election in Grove ward and the 2014 ordinary election being photo-finishes in what had previously been a safe Lib Dem ward.  The 2014 election saw the Tories gain one of the Lib Dem seats after the Lib Dems nominated a candidate with a Muslim name who lagged a long way behind his running-mates; sadly, not an uncommon pattern.  The ward's other Lib Dem councillor resigned this year due to work commitments, following criticism over his attendance, and the by-election was held simultaneously with May's general election resulting in a Lib Dem hold by just 18 votes; the Lib Dems and Tories polled 32% each, Labour 17% and the Green Party 9%.  In the 2012 GLA elections Boris beat Ken here by 48 to 26.

For the ward's second by-election of the year the defending Lib Dem candidate is Jon Tolley, manager of an independent record shop.  The Tories have selected Jenny Lewington.  Laurie South tries again for Labour after finishing third in the May by-election.  The new Green candidate is Clare Keogh.  John Anderson, for UKIP, completes the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: Kingston and Surbiton
GLA constituency: South West
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

May 2015 by-election LD 1634 C 1616 Lab 853 Grn 458 UKIP 241 Ind 238 TUSC 44
May 2014 result LD 1041/990/888 C 960/958/906 Lab 699/577/497 Grn 404/384/366
July 2012 by-election LD 720 C 687 Lab 440 Grn 123 UKIP 56 BNP 23 CPA 20
May 2010 result LD 2527/2391/2037 C 1505/1475/1390 Grn 713 Lab 618/584/576 Ind 272
May 2006 result LD 1186/1059/1000 C 881/814/782 Grn 452 Lab 231/205/203
Nov 2004 by-election LD 948 C 513 Lab 213 Grn 105 EDP 26 Soc Lab 17
May 2002 result LD 1290/1287/1172 C 616/603/576 Grn 148/115/99 Lab 142/132/122 CPA 42

May 2012 GLA results (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Boris 902 Ken 497 Grn 167 Benita 147 Paddick 123 UKIP 37 BNP 10
London list: C 590 Lab 441 LD 338 Grn 299 UKIP 102 CPA 30 TUSC 26 BNP 17 EDP 16 House Party 10 Hayat 8 NF 4 Alagaratnam 4

Cumbria county council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Bert Richardson due to ill health.  He was first elected to Cumbria county council in 1989 and also served as a district councillor for eight years; in his working life he ran Caldbeck post office for 35 years.  Formerly a keen golfer, Richardson is an honorary life member of Keswick golf club.

This deeply rural division takes in seven parishes to the north and west of Penrith.  Most of the villages here are tiny: the largest centres of population are High Hesket and Plumpton on the A6 Penrith-Carlisle road, and Greystoke to the north-west of Penrith, all of which have populations comfortably under 700.  While Greystoke does have a Victorian castle on the site of an earlier Norman creation, any connection with Tarzan of the Apes is merely coincidental.  Much of the division lies within the Lake District national park, covering a chunk of Wainwright's Northern Fells including the well-known Blencathra, whose saddle-shaped summit dominates the Eden valley; Blencathra is currently up for sale, with negotiations over the price continuing between the landowner (the Earl of Lonsdale) and the community group Friends of Blencathra.

Cumbria was redistricted in 2013 and the only previous result on these boundaries is from that year, Richardson winning with 53% against very evenly divided opposition from UKIP and the Lib Dems.  The Tories won all the seats here in May's district council elections, but only one of the constituent wards (Hesket) was contested.

Defending this by-election from the blue corner is Tom Wentworth Waites, who runs a local food production business.  The challenger in the yellow corner is Eden district councillor Judith Derbyshire.

Parliamentary constituency: Penrith and the Border
Eden district council wards: Greystoke, Hesket, Skelton
ONS Travel to Work Area: Penrith and Appleby

May 2013 result C 723 UKIP 331 LD 312

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

By-election Previews: 2 July 2015

Note from the editor: Apologies for the lack of updates recently.  I've been severely unwell, eventually having to go into hospital for some urgent treatment for a bad infection.  On the mend now though, and hopefully things will start to get updated soon!

Two by-elections on Thursday 2nd July:

Richmond upon Thames London borough council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Tania Mathias, who defeated the Business secretary Vince Cable in May to become MP for Twickenham.  She had served as a Richmond councillor since 2010.

St John the Baptist, Hampton Wick
This ward is on the Middlesex side of Richmond borough, directly opposite Kingston upon Thames and running north-west along the Kingston Road and Broom Road from Kingston Bridge and Hampton Wick railway station (on the Kingston Loop line from Waterloo).  It is probably still best known as the location for the 1970s ITV sitcom George and Mildred.

Although Richmond council is closely fought between the Tories and Lib Dems, this is a safe Tory ward.  In 2014 the Tory slate had 50%, with the Lib Dem slate narrowly falling into third place behind the single Green candidate; both those parties polled 18%.  At the top of the Tory slate with a clear personal vote is Tony Arbour, who has been a Richmond councillor since 1968 and represents the borough on the London Assembly.  At the most elections to that Assembly, in 2012, Boris beat Ken 61-20 here in the Mayoral ballot, while the Tories topped the list ballot with 45% to 19% for Labour, 16% for the Lib Dems and 12% for the Greens.

Defending for the Conservatives is Jon Hollis, chairman of the Twickenham Conservative association, who describes himself on Twitter as "husband to a wife, father to a son, slave to 3 cats".  He lost his council seat in his home Teddington ward last year.  Standing for the Greens is construction entrepreneur Anthony Breslin, who appears to be the only candidate to live in the ward.  The Lib Dems have selected school governor Geraldine Locke, who only joined the party last month.  Also standing are Dr Paul Tanto for Labour, independent candidate Michael Lloyd and the ward's first UKIP candidate, Sam Naz.

Parliamentary constituency: Twickenham
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

May 2014 result C 1870/1708/1586 Grn 696 LD 676/647/593 Lab 522/520/474
May 2010 result C 2670/2321/2297 LD 1956/1908/1672 Grn 831 Lab 590/498/460
May 2006 result C 1949/1726/1721 LD 1061/804/721 Grn 577 Lab 248/242
May 2002 result C 1621/1484/1476 LD 741/693/636 Grn 370 Lab 297/278/275

May 2012 London Assembly results (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Boris 1553 Ken 514 LD 152 Grn 150 Ind 119 UKIP 43 BNP 14
Assembly list: C 1153 Lab 480 LD 413 Grn 304 UKIP 105 BNP 31 EDP 22 CPA 21 TUSC 11 House Party 8 Alagaratnam 2 NF 1 Hayat 1

Lincolnshire county council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Jo Churchill, who is now the MP for Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

Barrowby Village Sign
This county division combines the south-west corner of the town of Grantham with the village of Barrowby just to the west.  The Grantham half of the division, based on the old Earlesfield district ward (the district wards were redrawn this year, but the county divisions here haven't yet caught up) has some light industry and distribution, notably the book distribution company Grantham Book Services.

The division was narrowly won by Labour at the 2005 election, but they fell to a poor third place in 2009 with the Tories gaining.  Jo Churchill was first elected here in 2013 in a three-way marginal result, polling 38% to 32% for an independent candidate and 30% for Labour.  District council results make it clear that the Labour vote comes out of the town rather than Barrowby, but in May's district council election the redrawn Grantham Earlesfield ward saw the Labour slate lose a seat to the single UKIP candidate, who was not opposed by the Tories and topped the poll.

Mark Whittington defends for the Tories: he is a self-employed accountant and Barrowby parish councillor.  The independent candidate from 2013, Mike Williams, tries again as candidate of the Lincolnshire Independents, a well-organised county council group.  Labour have selected Rob Shorrock, who lost his district council seat in Grantham Earlesfield in May.  Also on the ballot is UKIP's Maureen Simon.

Parliamentary constituency: Grantham and Stamford (Grantham part), Sleaford and North Hykeham (Barrowby part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Grantham

May 2013 result C 558 Ind 476 Lab 442
June 2009 result C 761 Lincs Ind 511 Lab 324 LD 253

May 2005 result Lab 1646 C 1486