Thursday, 11 July 2013

By-Election Previews: 11 July 2013

We are aware of four by-elections on 11th July.  The Conservatives are on the defensive in a Snowdonia ward which will be covered in the Welsh Elections blog.  In England, the westernmost ward in Suffolk goes to the polls following the resignation of a Lib Dem councillor; a long serving Independent will be replaced in Sleaford, Lincolnshire; and there is a fascinating contest in Brighton  where tensions within the ruling Green Party group have recently been exposed.

Forest Heath District Council, Suffolk; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Williams who has moved to Bath.

St Martin's Church, Exning
  © Copyright mike and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Suffolk's most westerly village, Exning can be found to the north-west of Newmarket, immediately outside the A14 bypass on the road to Burwell.  Local lore would have it that Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, once lived here; that's a load of nonsense, but there may be more substance to the theory, which goes back to the 12th-century Ely Abbey history Liber Eliensis, that Exning is where the seventh-century East Anglian princess St Etheldreda was born.  With the passage of time it's rather difficult to confirm this.

Exning's previous local election results are rather puzzling.  The Conservatives won easily in 2003 in a straight fight with Labour.  Labour withdrew from the fray in 2007 but the Liberal Democrats stood that year to ensure a contest, and it was a close one, the Tories eventually winning by just eleven votes.  In 2011 the Lib Dems easily gained the ward from the Conservatives.  The ward is part of a county division (Exning and Newmarket) which was gained by UKIP two months ago in the county council elections, but it's not clear how the party support is spread between the two wards covered by the division (and Exning ward is only a quarter of the division).

This by-election is yet another straight fight, but there is no defending Liberal Democrat candidate.  Marion Fairman-Smith, the Conservative councillor from 2007 who stood down in 2011, will try to get back on the council.  She is opposed by independent candidate Simon Cole, who stood in the county division in May and came fourth, with 19% of the vote.

Parliamentary constituency: West Suffolk
Suffolk county council division: Exning and Newmarket
ONS Travel to Work Area: Cambridge

Simon Cole (Ind)
Marion Fairman-Smith (C)

May 2011 result LD 372 C 291
May 2007 result C 253 LD 242
May 2003 result C 254 Lab 147

Brighton and Hove City Council; caused by the resignation of Green Party councillor Matt Follett who is moving away from the city.

Elm Grove Primary School, Brighton
  © Copyright Simon Carey and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Traditionally a rather poor part of Brighton, Hanover consists of a series of terraced streets on the side of a steep hill to the east of the Lewes Road.  For electoral purposes it is combined with the road of Elm Grove to the north and associated streets, and with Brighton General Hospital at the top of Elm Grove.  Hanover is starting to gentrify, its proximity to Brighton's railway station making it attractive to London commuters.  One bizarre story which came out of Hanover this year came when a member of the public reported to Brighton and Hove council, through the Fix My Street website, that a wormhole to another dimension had opened up in one of the ward's streets.  For some reason the council did not follow this up.

This is perhaps a shame, for Brighton's politics are as though a wormhole had opened up to another direction.  This is the first and so far only council whose administration is controlled by the Green Party, and it's not going entirely well for them.  The local Green group seems to have developed a bizarre split between the "mango" wing of the party (green on the outside, yellow on the inside) which includes the Leader of the Council Jason Kitcat and the resigning councillor, and the "watermelon" wing (green on the outside, red on the inside) which includes the defending Green by-election candidate David Gibson, who works in housing and regeneration.  The watermelons recently failed in an attempt to persuade Kitcat to "have a break" from being Leader after his inept handling of a dustbin men's strike, and things had settled down a little after that, but with this by-election affecting the balance of power between the watermelons and mangos tensions may resurface within the Green group after the election.

The Greens should hold this by-election, as it's one of their safest wards in the city and part of the constituency of their MP Caroline Lucas; the party has held all three seats within the ward since taking the last Labour seat in 2007.

As stated, David Gibson is the defending Green candidate.  Emma Daniel, from Labour, will provide the stiffest opposition.  Also standing are full-time carer Robert Knight for the Conservatives, former Manchester city councillor Lev Eakins for the Liberal Democrats, Phil Clarke for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Patricia Mountain for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Brighton Pavilion
ONS Travel to Work Area: Brighton

Phil Clarke (TUSC)
Emma Daniel (Lab)
Lev Eakins (LD)
David Gibson (Grn)
Robert Knight (C)
Patricia Mountain (UKIP)

May 2011 result Grn 2861/2800/2576 Lab 1662/1661/1606 C 499/441/434 LD 189/159/140 TUSC 156
May 2007 result Grn 2181/2102/1945 Lab 1321/1030/945 C 482/459/411 LD 333/260/256
May 2003 result Grn 2198/1895/1382 Lab 1886/1722/1510 LD 517/460/450 C 489/466/455 Socialist Alliance 266

North Kesteven District Council, Lincolnshire; caused by the resignation of Independent councillor Peter Haysum.  With over forty years' service in local goverment, starting on the long-abolished Sleaford Urban District council, Haysum, a former postman, has served three times as Mayor of Sleaford and was chairman of the district council in 1995.  He is stepping down due to ill health.

Approach to A15 and A17 roundabout at Holdingham
  © Copyright Mick Lobb and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
One of the fen towns in which southern Lincolnshire specialises, Sleaford goes back to Roman times, and became a major agricultural centre in the eighteenth century with the canalising of the River Slea to create the Sleaford Navigation.  The railways came here in 1857, and Sleaford is still a railway junction, with lines from Peterborough to Lincoln and from Grantham to Skegness meeting here.  Hubbard's seeds and Bass maltings were major employers, as was administration; from 1888 to 1974 Sleaford was the county town of the Parts of Kesteven.  One of five wards covering the town, Sleaford Holdingham ward is the northern fringe of the built-up area and is centred around the Holdingham roundabout, where the A15 Lincoln-Peterborough road meets the A17 Newark-Kings Lynn road.

As stated, Haysum had been the councillor here for a long time and had a large personal vote.  He was originally a Labour councillor, although his last two re-elections in 2007 and 2011 were as an Independent.  In 2011 he defeated the Conservatives in a straight fight, polling 65%.  In last May's Lincolnshire county elections Sleaford division, of which this ward is part, saw a Conservative loss to the Lincolnshire Independents candidate in a very fractured result, the Lincolnshire Independents winning with less than 28% of the vote.

This makes the result of this district by-election rather unpredictable.  There are two new independent candidates, both Sleaford town councillors: Ken Fernandes, who came last out of five candidates in the county election with 12.5%, and represents this ward on the town council; and retired teacher Grenville Jackson.  The Conservatives have nominated Lucille Hagues, an NHS patient advocate involved in cancer care.  The Labour candidate is Mike Benthall, a retired chartered engineer, and UKIP are standing John Dilks from the nearby village of Brant Broughton; Dilks came third in the county division in May, polling 20%.

Parliamentary constituency: Sleaford and North Hykeham
Lincolnshire county council division: Sleaford
ONS Travel to Work Area: Lincoln

Mike Benthall (Lab)
John Dilks (UKIP)
Ken Fernandes (Ind)
Lucille Hagues (C)
Grenville Jackson (Ind)

May 2011 result Ind 470 C 254
May 2007 result Ind 373 C 148 UKIP 64

1 comment:

  1. Collingham & Meering By-election Newark & Sherwood District Council, Thursday 11 September 2014. Sara Chadd standing for UKIP, come on U-Kippas.