Wednesday, 21 November 2012

By-Election Preview: 22 November 2012

With the farcical Police Commissioner elections now out of the way, normal service resumes on the local by-election front with one poll on Thursday 22nd November, which fills a vacancy that occurred just too late to be combined with the Police Commissioner elections.

We are now in the "six-month rule" period as there are less than six months to go to the May 2013 local elections in which the English county councils, some ex-county councils which have gone down the unitary route, one-third of Bristol City Council (thanks to its unique electoral cycle) and Anglesey County Council in Wales are up for re-election.  The six-month rule means that there will not be any by-elections to replace councillors who would have been up for re-election in 2013, so there will be no county council by-elections for a little while.  At least one vacancy which falls under this rule has already been reported (in Ludgvan division, Cornwall).

This column continues a series which was previously published on the Britain-Votes blog.  It appears that the people behind Britain-Votes have moved on to other projects; nonetheless I am grateful to them for their support over the last year and even more grateful to Kris for allowing me to hijack his blogs in the same way as I did to Britain-Votes.  Anyway...


Shepway District Council, Kent; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Tristan Allen.

Folkestone Academy
  © Copyright David Anstiss and licensed for 
reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Off to the south coast and the town of Folkestone, the major town within the curiously-named Shepway district.  Folkestone has had a few industries over the years, although they are all connected with its location as a Channel port.  The coming of the railways in 1843 transformed the town into both a bustling ferry port (the South Eastern Railway essentially rebuilt the harbour to handle steam packets for Boulogne) and a resort with a sandy beach.  There are no passenger ferries from Folkestone now, thanks to competition from a more recent development up the hill at the other end of town: the Channel Tunnel, which surfaces at Castle Hill just north of Folkestone and is a major local employer.

Folkestone's Park ward, one of nine covering the town, can be found at the northern end of the built-up area, running from the railway line at the south end to the end of the M20 motorway at the north end.  At the southern end of the ward is Folkestone Central railway station, with three trains per hour to Dover and London (one of which reaches London in less than an hour thanks to the high-speed line).  The deprivation indices suggest that the area around the station and Radnor Park is seriously run-down, with the ward's other three census areas being around the English average.

This ward elected three Liberal Democrats in 2003 fairly comfortably; the Conservatives gained two seats at the 2007 election and got a full slate in 2011 by a very comfortable margin.  The Lib Dems were completely wiped out on Shepway council in 2011 - having controlled it until 2007 - and the only opposition to the Conservatives consists of two "People First" councillors from Folkestone Foord ward.

The defending Conservative candidate is Leo Griggs, a parish councillor in the coastal parish of Sandgate which is to all intents and purposes part of Folkestone.  The Liberal Democrats' Lynne Beaumont will hope to get back on the council quickly after losing her seat in this ward in 2011.  Another unsuccessful candidate from 2011 standing again is Patricia Copping of the People First party.  Labour's Nicola Keen wants to reverse the recent introduction of on-street parking charges in Folkestone.  Hod Birkby is standing for UKIP, and the ballot paper is completed by Green Party candidate Derek Moran.

Tristan Allen also sat on Folkestone town council, and there is a simultaneous by-election for the town council in the same ward.  All the candidates are contesting both by-elections, with the exception of Moran who lives in the next-door town of Hythe; he is replaced by another Green candidate.

Lynne Beaumont (LD)

Hod Birkby (UKIP)
Patricia Copping (People First)
Leo Griggs (C)
Nicola Keen (Lab)
Derek Moran (Grn)

Parliamentary constituency: Folkestone and Hythe

Kent county council division: Folkestone North East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Folkestone

May 2011 result C 966/940/802 LD 569/428/403 People First 336/258/200 Lab 279 UKIP 217

May 2007 result LD 684/581/555 C 624/614/594 Ind 384 Shepway Ind 293/135 People First 174/122/104 UKIP 111
May 2003 result LD 1015/1015/984 C 798/652/649

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