Just one by-election this week:
WINDERMERE BOWNESS NORTH
South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Hilary Stephenson. A former leader of the council who had represented the ward for six years, Mrs Stephenson resigned to support her husband Jonathan who is now the deputy leader of Cumbria County Council.
This is the last week of the school summer holidays in England, a time when families have their last chance to get away before the schools come back and the nights draw in. One popular choice for getting away is the Lake District, and the town of Bowness-on-Windermere has become a major tourist centre thanks to its location on the banks of Windermere and proximity to Windermere railway station. The "Rio" of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series, Bowness is a sailing centre for the lake; by far the most popular sailing is the car ferry which crosses the lake to Far Sawrey on the western side, not far from Beatrix Potter's house at Hill Top.
Bowness, which at parish level has merged with the neighbouring town of Windermere, is part of the South Lakeland district and Westmorland and Lonsdale parliamentary constituency, which over the last decade or so has swung a mile towards the Lib Dems; the local MP Tim Farron has one of the safest Lib Dem seats in the country despite only gaining it from the Conservatives in 2005, "decapitating" the Tory education spokesman Tim Collins. South Lakeland Council has an unusual electoral system, combining the "thirds" election cycle with a predominantly single-member ward pattern; the effect of this is that only one of the district's three main towns (Kendal, Ulverston or Windermere) has district council elections in any given year, with Windermere last up in 2011. Kendal was a Labour stronghold until the mid-Noughties, when their vote epically collapsed in the Lib Dems' favour. Windermere has been a Lib Dem stronghold for rather longer, and the Windermere county council division, of which this ward is part, gave Jonathan Stephenson, the Liberal Democrat candidate, 62% of the vote in May's elections to Cumbria county council, the Tories being runners-up on 19%. The last district council election in Bowness North, in 2011, was better for the Tories, who polled 30% (in the absence of a UKIP candidate) to 65% for the Lib Dems.
The defending Liberal Democrat candidate is Colin Jones, a Windermere town councillor and National Trust ranger. The Tory candidate is former travel agent Ian Keeling, and Labour have reselected their 2011 candidate for this ward Rae Cross.
Parliamentary constituency: Westmorland and Lonsdale Cumbria county council division: Windermere ONS Travel to Work Area: Kendal
Rae Cross (Lab) Colin Jones (LD) Ian Keeling (C)
May 2011 result LD 608 C 280 Lab 47 May 2008 result LD 654 C 227