Wednesday, 6 February 2013

By-Elections Preview: 7th February 2013


Three by-elections will be held on 7th February, all following the deaths of councillors.  Labour are defending a safe seat in west London and a rather less safe seat in Gloucestershire, while a localist party has a safe seat to defend in Thornaby-on-Tees.

BERRY HILL
Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucestershire; caused by the death of Labour councillor Helen Stewart at the age of 65.  Stewart had had a varied career including working on a Xerox assembly line and as a pub landlord; she had been a councillor since 1999 with a break from 2007 to 2011.

Berry Hill Post Office
  © Copyright Pauline Eccles and licensed for
 reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Nestled in the middle of the forest, just north of Coleford, is the largish village of Berry Hill, a small corner of the large West Dean civil parish.  Berry Hill is notable for two things: it was the site of Christ Church, the first church in the Forest; and it was the birthplace of the TV playwright Dennis Potter.  Christchurch is now the focus of its own ward, leaving Berry Hill ward as an almost entirely urban ward of 176 acres, the smallest ward in the district.

The Forest has traditionally been a very industrial area with a history of coal mining, free mining and charcoal burning, and this has left its mark on elections in the district which see a larger Labour vote than might be expected for such a rural area.  Berry Hill ward definitely falls into this category: it was a safe Labour ward when created on its current boundaries in 2003, Labour defeating the Conservatives by 60% to 40%, but the Conservatives doubled their vote in 2007 to win by 57% to 43%, and followed up in 2009 by gaining the local county council seat (West Dean) from Labour.  Labour got the ward back in 2011 with a margin of 55% to 45% and a majority of 51 votes.

Labour have selected Timothy Gwilliam, one of the two West Dean parish councillors for this ward, to hold the district by-election.  The Conservatives have called out the local plumber, Nigel Bluett, and the Conservative/Labour duopoly on candidates here has been broken with UKIP nominating John McOwan, an HGV/plant mechanic from the village of Bream.

Parliamentary constituency: Forest of Dean
Gloucestershire county council division: West Dean
ONS Travel to Work Area: Monmouth and Cinderford

Nigel Bluett (C)
Timothy Gwilliam (Lab)
John McOwan (UKIP)

May 2011 result Lab 273 C 222
May 2007 result C 279 Lab 210
May 2003 result Lab 219 C 144


WORMHOLT AND WHITE CITY
Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council, North London; caused by the death of Labour councillor Jean Campbell at the age of 65.  Campbell came to London from Jamaica in 1970 and worked as a nurse and in the civil service; described as a dedicated community councillor, she had represented the ward since 2006 and sat on the executive of the White City tenants and residents association.
White City Estate
  © Copyright Phillip Perry and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Located in the Hammersmith end of the borough just south of the Westway, one of the main arterial roads into London, Wormholt and White City is named after Wormholt Park at the centre of the ward and the White City district.  First developed as the site of the 1908 London Olympics, White City is now a council estate with roads named after Commonwealth countries, including South Africa Road on which is located (just outside the ward boundary) Loftus Road Stadium, home of Queens Park Rangers football club.  The ward is a very deprived area and majority non-white according to the newly-released 2011 census figures, with Black Africans being the most common non-white ethnic group.  More than half of the households in the ward are socially rented (37% from the council).  All of the ward is within the W12 (Shepherd's Bush) postal district.

With these demographics it's no surprise to find this is a safe Labour ward, with Labour polling 60% at the last borough election on general election day in 2010.  Labour also had 60% here at the last GLA elections in 2012, to 17% for the Conservatives and 8% for the third-placed Greens, who have never stood in the ward at council level.  The ward preferred Ken to Boris by 57% to 30%.

Labour's candidate to hold the ward is Fulham-based charity worker Max Schmid, who fought and lost in the marginal North End ward in 2010.  The Tories have gone for Jamie McKittrick, who gives an address in West Kensington; he is a school governor and economics and law graduate whose Twitter profile describes him as an "odds compiler and sports trader".  Chris Whittaker, a youth leader and manager for a leading employee-run retail organisation, is the Lib Dem candidate.  Three other candidates have been nominated: in alphabetical order they are independent Jeffrey Boateng, of White City; BNP candidate Andrew Donald, of Fulham; and UKIP candidate Andrew Elston, a carer and former teacher from West Kensington.

Parliamentary constituency: Hammersmith
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Jeffrey Boateng (Ind)
Andrew Donald (BNP)
Andrew Elston (UKIP)
Jamie McKittrick (C) (@JamieRightOnCue)
Max Schmid (Lab)
Chris Whittaker (LD)

May 2010 result Lab 3052/2971/2813 C 1186/1152/1071 LD 843/727/723
May 2006 result Lab 1292/1278/1151 C 767/623/519 LD 442/404/382 Ind 184
May 2002 result Lab 1141/1084/1082 C 366/337/272 LD 289/279/242
May 2012 GLA results (excludes postal votes)
Mayor: Ken 1708 Boris 904 Grn 136 Benita 97 Paddick 87 UKIP 41 BNP 38
List: Lab 1803 C 527 Grn 233 LD 137 UKIP 92 BNP 67 CPA 60 EDP 28 NF 23 House 20 TUSC 19 Hayat 9 Alagaratnam 3


VILLAGE
Stockton-on-Tees Council; caused by the death of Thornaby Independent Association councillor Mick Eddy.  Re-elected as Mayor of Thornaby last year, he spent 42 years in education, including 21 years as headteacher of Christ the King Roman Catholic primary school in Thornaby.

St. Peter's Church, Thornaby
  © Copyright Mick Garratt and licensed for reuse
under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Village ward is a residential area forming the south-western third of the town of Thornaby-on-Tees.  On the Yorkshire bank of the Tees directly between Stockton and Middlesbrough, Thornaby has traditionally been the most middle-class part of the Teesside conurbation, in contrast to Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar which were all heavily industrial areas.

Today this middle-class heritage is reflected in the local parliamentary constituency, Stockton South, being an extremely marginal Conservative seat, gained from Labour in the 2010 election with a majority of just 332 votes.  With Thornaby being definitely one of the more middle-class parts of the constituency, you might expect Village to be a fairly safe Conservative ward.  If so, you'd be wrong, for Thornaby local election results are dominated by the localist Thornaby Independent Association, which holds five of the town's six seats on Stockton-on-Tees council, including both seats in this ward with a large majority.  Labour run second here, and did take one of the seats when the ward was first used on its current boundaries on general election day in 2005, but haven't come close to winning here since.

The Independent Association has nominated Mick Moore, who is one of the two remaining Thornaby town councillors for this ward, to hold the by-election.  Labour and the Conservatives have both re-selected their top candidates here from the 2011 election, Les Hodge and John Chapman respectively.  Isabel Willis is standing for the Lib Dems, and Ingleby Barwick-based Ted Strike, who contested the Stockton Town Centre ward in 2011, is the UKIP candidate.

Parliamentary constituency: Stockton South
ONS Travel to Work Area: Middlesbrough and Stockton

John Chapman (C)
Leslie Hodge (Lab)
Mick Moore (Thornaby Ind Assoc)
Ted Strike (UKIP) 
Isabel Willis (LD)

May 2011 result Thornaby Ind Assoc 1087/1022 Lab 660/591 C 242/196 LD 60/56
May 2007 result Thornaby Ind Assoc 1066/969 Lab 552/477 C 209/195 BNP 188
May 2005 result Thornaby Ind Assoc 1262/1113 Lab 1151/1078 C 371 LD 314

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