Wednesday, 20 February 2013

By-Elections Preview: 21 February 2013

Andrew Teale continues our by-election previews for this week, with three contests being held on the more traditional day of the week.

Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council, West Yorkshire; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Mark Burns-Williamson who is now the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire.

Glasshoughton and Red Hill
  © Copyright David Pickersgill and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Lagentium to the Romans, Castleford is a town with an old history thanks to its location where a Roman road crossed the River Aire.  The town as it is today grew up in the Victorian era with the opening of several collieries in the area.  These closed down in the late twentieth century, but a lot of regeneration money has been thrown at Castleford since then; much of that has manifested into a major industrial and leisure area south of the town on the site of the old Glasshoughton Colliery adjacent to the M62 motorway, which can now boast a shopping village, a large number of retail and food outlets and the Xscape indoor ski slope, which dominates the surrounding area.  Glasshoughton is served by one of the newest stations on the railway network, opened in 2005 with hourly trains to Leeds and Pontefract; Castleford station itself has half-hourly trains to Leeds and an hourly service to Wakefield.

With its mining history this is a very safe Labour ward and the party has not been seriously challenged since the ward was created in 2004.  The BNP were runners-up here from 2004 until 2010 when they were narrowly beaten by the Tories.  Since 2011 it has been UKIP's turn to run a distant second here.

Labour's candidate for the by-election is Richard Forster, who will face opposition from UKIP's Nathan Garbutt, a former Tory figure who stood in the neighbouring Castleford North ward in May; the Tories' Annemarie Glover, a former Wakefield councillor who lost her seat last year in Wrenthorpe and Outwood West ward; and local CAMRA chairman and VoteUK Forum member Mark Goodair who is the ward's first Liberal Democrat candidate since 2005.

Parliamentary constituency: Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wakefield and Castleford

Richard Foster (Lab)
Nathan Garbutt (UKIP) (@Nathangarbutt)
Annemarie Glover (C)
Mark Goodair (LD)

May 2012 result Lab 2306 UKIP 482 C 235
May 2011 result Lab 2641 UKIP 477 C 426
May 2010 result Lab 4146 C 1209 BNP 1147
May 2008 result Lab 1775 BNP 854 C 649
May 2007 result Lab 2077 BNP 745 C 453
May 2006 result Lab 1884 BNP 876 LD 475 C 333
June 2004 result Lab 2797/2692/2286 BNP 948 C 507/484/483

North Norfolk District Council; caused by the death of the Conservative leader of the council Keith Johnson.  It is suspected that he shot his wife dead then turned the gun on himself.  Johnson, a former mayor of Cromer, had been leader of North Norfolk District Council since May 2012.

View from the Tower of Church of St Peter
and St Paul, Cromer, Norfolk

  © Copyright Christine Matthews and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
The self-styled Gem of the Norfolk Coast and headquarters of North Norfolk District Council, Cromer is a small port and seaside resort on the northern coast of the county.  As well as the normal seaside attractions, the Cromer Crab is still fished here and the town does a thriving trade in seafood.  Despite the name, Cromer Town only covers the western half of the resort, with the other half of town covered by Suffield Park ward, named after the various Lords Suffield, major landowners in this part of Norfolk.  This ward includes Cromer's railway station, at the end of a branch line from Norwich and with hourly trains to Norwich and Sheringham.  Like many East Anglian seaside resorts, this ward has a large proportion of retirees and a median age of 52 according to the 2011 census.

North Norfolk District Council turned Lib Dem in a big way during the later years of the last Labour government, but at the 2011 election the Conservatives gained overall control for the first time.  The swings in this ward have been rather more muted as it has always returned two Conservative councillors since 2003, but the Tory majority did increase in 2011 and Labour are disputing second place here with the Lib Dems.

The Tories have selected a strong local candidate in Cromer town councillor and former Mayor Tony Nash.  The Lib Dems have reselected their 2011 runner-up Andreas Yiasimi, a photographer.  Labour's candidate is Jen Emery, who currently runs the book publishing company Salt Publishing after twenty years working in the NHS.  The ballot paper is completed by UKIP's David Ramsbotham, who gives an address some miles away in the village of Plumstead; he was a strong second to the Conservatives in Corpusty ward in 2011.  Not on the ballot paper is would-be independent candidate John Morgan, who submitted two sets of nomination papers which were both found to be invalid.

Parliamentary constituency: North Norfolk
Norfolk county council division: Cromer
ONS Travel to Work Area: Cromer and Sheringham

Jen Emery (Lab)
Tony Nash (C)
David Ramsbotham (UKIP)
Andreas Yiasimi (LD)

May 2011 result C 509/476 LD 367/312 Lab 332/286 Grn 154
May 2007 result C 594/531 LD 406/317 Lab 218/193 Ind 160/157
May 2003 result C 558/529 LD 272/210 Lab 179 Ind 123

Harrow London Borough Council, North London; caused by the resignation of ex-Labour councillor Brian Gate, who had received a police caution for possessing indecent images of children.

West Harrow: Drury Road
  © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Described in its Wikipedia entry as "bohemian", West Harrow is another of those endless suburban tracts in the area known as Metro-land, in this case spreading out from the West Harrow Underground station on the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan Line.  By the mid-twentieth century the ward was essentially full of housing, and in more recent years it has been a major centre for immigration from India; the 2011 census found almost 40% of the population from Asian or Asian British ethnic groups (overwhelmingly Indian) and Hinduism is the second largest religion in the ward after Christianity.

In the three elections from 2002 this ward has been a closely-fought Labour/Conservative marginal.  The seat elected two Labour and one Conservative councillor at the notorious 2002 Harrow election in which almost all the Liberal Democrat candidates had their nominations rejected, and the Conservatives gained a second seat off Labour at the 2006 election, Brian Gate being the surviving Labour councillor.  In 2010 Labour gained the two Conservative seats; the results show a clear personal vote for Gate but his two running-mates had majorities over the lead Conservative candidate of just 64 and 16 votes.  This marginal profile even continued into last year's GLA election in which Ken beat Boris in the ward's ballot boxes by just four votes (although this figure doesn't include postal votes in which Boris had a handy lead in Harrow); on the other hand, Labour led the Tories by 45% to 29% on the GLA list vote last year.

Defending for Labour is Christine Robson, an NHS psychotherapist who lives in the ward.  Julia Merison, a Conservative councillor for the ward between 2006 and 2010, will try to get her seat back.  Pash Nandhra, who gives an address in Pinner, is the Liberal Democrats' candidate; she was a Lib Dem councillor for a neighbouring ward until falling victim to the 2002 nomination papers fiasco, and was also the parliamentary candidate here in 1997.  Jeremy Zeid, a former Conservative councillor in Kenton, is the UKIP candidate, while the Christian Peoples Alliance are not standing again after finishing last in the 2010 election.  Former Lib Dem councillor for the ward Herbert Crossman is standing in this ward for the third consecutive election under the third consecutive label; this time he is an independent after being a UKIPper in 2010 and standing for his own People's Independent Party in 2006.  Finally, Rowan Langley is standing for the Green Party after twice contesting the neighbouring Rayners Lane ward.

I am grateful to Colin Gray for providing information on the candidates in this week's by-election thread on the Vote UK forum, and can recommend his Harrow Elections website ( for further information on local elections in Harrow.

Parliamentary constituency: Harrow West
GLA constituency: Brent and Harrow
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Herbert Crossman (Ind)
Rowan Langley (Grn)
Julia Merison (C)
Pash Nandhra (LD)
Christine Robson (Lab)
Jeremy Zeid (UKIP)

May 2010 result Lab 2197/1831/1783 C 1767/1760/1651 LD 1056/981/797 UKIP 265 CPA 129/96/87
May 2006 result C 1441/1353/1195 Lab 1251/1199/1095 LD 561/461/434 People's Ind Party 133/124/109
May 2002 result Lab 1249/1172/1102 C 1161/1079/1062
May 2012 GLA results (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Ken 997 Boris 993 Grn 109 Benita 101 LD 65 UKIP 38 BNP 17
List: Lab 1047 C 684 Grn 192 UKIP 126 LD 104 CPA 63 BNP 32 EDP 28 Hayat 18 TUSC 14 Alagaratnam 13 NF 6 House Party 4

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