Thursday, 8 August 2013

By-Election Preview: 8 August 2013

8th August 2013 sees four by-elections in diverse areas of the country with something for everyone.  The only Tory defence comes in suburban Swindon in a ward where their majority is comfortable but perhaps not impregnable.  All the other three by-elections are to replace Labour councillors, one in the London borough of Merton and one in the Suffolk town of Lowestoft.  However, this week we start in Cleveland in the first of a two-parties series of places with which your columnist has a family connection.


Redcar and Cleveland Council; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Dave McLuckie, a former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, after he was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.  A manager at the Boulby Potash mine, McLuckie's offence was similar to that of Chris Huhne; facing disqualification from driving after being caught speeding, he was found to have persuaded a friend to take the points for him.  McLuckie is now serving an eight-month prison sentence.

Looking down on Skelton
  © Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
This ward has a rather special place in your columnist's family history: the only member of my branch of the Teales ever to seek elected office was Harry Teale, my great-grandfather, who stood for election to Skelton and Brotton Urban District Council in what was then the North Riding of Yorkshire.  Although he was basically a Liberal he stood as an independent; politics was different in those days.  There are still members of my dad's family living in Skelton and the nearby villages of Boosbeck and Lingdale up on the North York Moors, and some years ago I went to a wedding in Skelton parish church of which my abiding memory is, as the congregation filed out, the open church doorway perfectly framing the sight of a horse merrily pissing in the field opposite.  What this portents for the bride and groom can only be guessed at.

Today the village of Skelton-in-Cleveland, just south of the seaside town of Saltburn, elects three members to Redcar and Cleveland council.  Those positions had been stable since at least 2003, with Brian Briggs and Dave and Helen McLuckie being the ward councillors for Labour.  Labour were pushed relatively close by the Conservatives at the 2003 election; the Tories fell back badly in 2007 before recovering at the 2011 election.  On the Labour side, Brian Briggs has a significant personal vote in the ward and greatly outpolls the McLuckies.

Labour are not having a good time in Redcar and Cleveland at the moment: on top of Dave McLuckie's conviction, the recent defection of two councillors to go Independent has wiped out the Labour majority on the council.  They have gone for an experienced candidate to hold the by-election: David Walsh was leader of Redcar and Cleveland council until losing his seat in the 2003 election.  The Conservatives have selected Anne Watts, from Guisborough, while the Lib Dem candidate this time is Rod Waite.  The chairman of Skelton and Brotton Parish Council, James Carolle, has been runner-up for the Conservatives in the last three elections to this ward, and tries again as an Independent this time.  Completing the ballot paper is UKIP candidate Stuart Todd.

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

James Carolle (Ind) # Conservative candidate 2003, 2007
Stuart Todd (UKIP)
Rod Waite (LD)
David Walsh (Lab)
Anne Watts (C)

May 2011 result Lab 1238/921/876 C 718/657 LD 312/269/248
May 2007 result Lab 1897/1752/1676 C 672/667/642 Ind 354/342 BNP 171
May 2003 result Lab 1700/1492/1378 C 1194/1027/1021


Merton London Borough Council, South London; caused by the death of Labour councillor Gam Gurung at the age of 53.  A bricklaying teacher at Carshalton College, Gurung settled in Britain after serving for seventeen years in the Gurkhas and was a founder of the South London Nepalese Gurkha Association.

Colliers Wood Recreation Ground
  © Copyright Ian Yarham and licensed for reuse
under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
While the wood which Colliers Wood is named after had been cleared for development by the 1890s, Colliers Wood itself has a much longer history as home to the remains of the 12th century Merton Priory.  Founded in 1114 at the point where Stane Street (the modern A24) crossed the River Wandle, Merton Priory quickly became a major centre of learning, with Pope Adrian IV and Thomas Becket educated here, and in 1236 a Parliament was held here which agreed the Statute of Merton: the first recorded Act of Parliament, among other things it allowed Lords of the Manor to enclose common land provided sufficient pasture remained for their tenants.

The modern Colliers Wood ward lies roughly in the middle of the deprivation indices, and has significant Black and Asian populations.  Roughly at the centre of the ward is Colliers Wood underground station on the Northern Line, opened in 1926 to link the area with the City.  One major issue in the ward is the future of the Colliers Wood Tower, an large office block which a few years ago was voted as the ugliest building in London.

Colliers Wood ward is a Labour stronghold, but was a consistent Green Party hotspot in the Noughties, the party's vote peaking at 38% in 2002, 16 points behind Labour.  At the most recent election in 2010 Labour won the ward with 51%, the Tories being best of the rest on 20%.  Last year the ward's ballot boxes produced scores of 52% for Ken and 29% for Boris, Labour polling 53% in the list section of the election to 19% for the Conservatives and 12% for the Greens.

Defending for Labour is 50-year-old Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, who works in finance and is the secretary of the local residents association.  The Conservative candidate is Peter Wood, a former volunteer police officer who works for a major telecoms company.  Standing for the Lib Dems is marketing and strategy consultant Phil Ling, and legal services entrepreneur Shafqat Janjua completes the ballot paper for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Mitcham and Morden
GLA constituency: Merton and Wandsworth
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

May 2010 result Lab 2608/2376/2261 C 1001/960/848 LD 888/804/608 Grn 622
May 2006 result Lab 1713/1625/1577 Grn 1222/1152/1068 C 398/374/353 LD 262
May 2002 result Lab 1328/1306/1254 Grn 940/813/752 C 179/158/145
May 2012 GLA election (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Ken 1338 Boris 736 Benita 177 Grn 159 Paddick 91 UKIP 36 BNP 33
London members: Lab 1354 C 493 Grn 315 LD 139 UKIP 79 CPA 62 BNP 47 TUSC 18 EDP 17 Alagaratnam 15 House Party 9 Hayat 7 NF 6


Swindon Council, Wiltshire; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Rex Barnett, who had been suffering from mesothelioma for some years.  Starting his working life with the railways at Swindon Works, he served an apprenticeship as a gas fitter and plumber, and spent twenty years as a sales manager for an engineering company.  Having formerly been a councillor in the 1960s and 1970s, Barnett had represented Haydon Wick ward since 2007 and had served as Mayor of Swindon.

Fox and Hounds, Haydon Wick, Swindon
  © Copyright John Grayson and licensed for
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A village which has been swallowed up by the explosive growth of Swindon, Haydon Wick is on the north-western edge of the built-up area according to my 2007 A-Z road atlas, but well within it according to more recent OS mapping.  Because of the growth of the town Swindon had to be re-warded in 2012, and Haydon Wick ward only covers the eastern half of the parish is is named after: the Haydon Wick and Greenmeadow areas, together with some neighbouring areas.

Because of the recent re-warding results in the ward before 2012 are not directly comparable.  The 2012 result shows a comfortable but not overwhelming Conservative lead over Labour of around 12 points, with Barnett topping the poll at the head of the Tory slate.

The defending Conservative candidate is Oliver Donachie, a local businessman and school governor.  Labour have nominated Dublin-born Maura Clarke, who has produced radio and TV programmes for RTE and the BBC and won a Sony award for the best radio feature/documentary of 1996; she now volunteers at the CAB and fought the ward in 2012.  Also standing again from 2012 is UKIP's Ed Gerrard, a retired electrical engineer who specialised in railway signalling and communications.  Completing the ballot paper is Liberal Democrat candidate Sean Davey, a director of a CCTV company who describes himself on his twitter as a "Caribbean Foodtrepreneur".  Your guess is as good as mine.

Parliamentary constituency: North Swindon
ONS Travel to Work Area: Swindon

Maura Clarke (Lab)
Sean Davey (LD)
Oliver Donachie (C)
Ed Gerrard (UKIP)

May 2012 result C 1390/1299/1168 Lab 993/904/897 UKIP 339 Grn 263 LD 202


Waveney District Council, Suffolk; caused by the death of Labour councillor Mike Ives-Keeler.  First elected in 2011, he was the Labour group's shadow cabinet member for resources.

Oulton Broad Tidal Ford
  © Copyright John Walton and licensed for
reuse under this 
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On the western edge of the built-up area of Lowestoft, the Oulton ward links together some rather disjoint residential areas, from the old village of Oulton to the north to part of Oulton Broad in the south.  A small corner of the ward lies within the Broads National Park.  This corner of the ward, around Sands Lane, is quite well-off, the rest of the ward less so.

This socially mixed nature has created a fascinating marginal ward which has had split representation since it was created in 2002.  The 2002 election saw Labour topping the poll and the Conservatives winning a close race for the second seat.  In 2003 the Conservatives lost their seat to an independent candidate, but made up for it by gaining the Labour seat in 2006 and holding it in 2010 (by 112 votes).  Since 2011 Waveney council has moved away from elections by thirds, and the 2011 election saw Labour topping the poll and gaining the Conservative seat, with the Independent councillor holding off a Tory challenge to win the second seat.  Oulton is one of four wards making up the two-member Oulton division of Suffolk county council, which in May elected a UKIP (Bert Poole) and a Labour (Len Jacklin) county councillor with the Conservatives - who had won both seats in 2009 - close behind. 

Both newly-elected county councillors are standing in the by-election, Jacklin hoping to defend the seat for Labour and Poole hoping to gain it for UKIP, who have not previously contested this district ward.  The Tory candidate is Deanna Law, who lost her seat on the county council in May (moving from Lowestoft South to Gunton division).  The Green candidate is Maxine Narburgh, who fought this county division in May, and Chris Thomas stands for the Liberal Democrats.

Parliamentary constituency: Waveney
Suffolk county council division: Oulton
ONS Travel to Work Area: Lowestoft and Beccles

Len Jacklin (Lab)
Deanna Law (C)
Maxine Narburgh (Grn)
Bert Poole (UKIP)
Chris Thomas (LD)

May 2011 result Lab 502/420 Ind 492 C 474/372 Grn 117 LD 105
May 2010 result C 914 Lab 802 LD 345 Grn 112
May 2007 result Ind 389 Lab 303 C 296 UKIP 107 LD 70 Grn 31
May 2006 result C 419 Lab 284 Ind 281 LD 107 Grn 50
May 2003 result Ind 461 Lab 289 C 274 Grn 40
May 2002 result Lab 527/406 C 439/416 LD 203

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this - and I write as the guy who won this by-election. A couple of personal points first. As everyone who wants to know, knows, I have been out of a council chamber since 2003 and at that time with 25 years as a Councillor under my belt(I started young on Cleveland County Council)felt that was enough. I ended up having the local party members pulling my arm out of the socket to do it. Secondly, there are problems in the administration (unless, like some, you are in self-denial) and I was seen as someone who could help improve things. Early days, but some progress may be showing. Never come across your family (either in Skelton where I live, Boosbeck (where I drink) or Hartlepool *where I have many friens) but if any want to say halloo they are welcome. Will bookmark your blog.