Thursday, 21 November 2013

By-Election Previews: 21 November 2013

South Cambridgeshire District Council; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Stephen Harangozo who is moving away from the area.

Comberton Village Sign - east side
  © Copyright Keith Edkins and licensed for
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The South Cambridgeshire district, which surrounds the town of Cambridge on each side, has grown spectacularly in population over the last few decades, but this hasn't been achieved by building a new town.  Rather, bits and bobs are tacked on to villages that already exist.  Such is the case with the village of Comberton, a village located around six miles to the west of Cambridge on the road to St Neots, just to the east of the Greenwich Meridian, which now has a population comfortably over 2,000.

At district level Comberton has been represented for over fifteen years by Stephen Harangozo, usually with comfortable majorities although he was pushed close by the Conservatives at the 2007 election.  The ward forms one-quarter of the Hardwick county division, which has seesawed between the Conservatives and Lib Dems in recent elections; the Tories are currently on top, winning in May by 42% to 38%, Labour (who have better wards elsewhere in the division) polling 21%.

The defending Lib Dem candidate is Fay Boissieux, who runs a cake shop in the village of Gamlingay, near Sandy.  The Tories have selected Comberton parish councillor and farmer Tim Scott, while the Labour candidate, Cambridge University tutor and Comberton resident Helen Haugh, hasn't had a good election campaign, her house having been ransacked by burglars on Hallowe'en.  Completing the ballot paper is the area's first UKIP local candidate, Duxford-based Elizabeth Smith.

Parliamentary constituency: South Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire county council division: Comberton
ONS Travel to Work Area: Cambridge

Fay Boissieux (LD)
Helen Haugh (Lab)
Tim Scott (C)
Elizabeth Smith (UKIP)

May 2011 result LD 558 C 397 Lab 104
May 2007 result LD 437 C 401 Lab 69
May 2003 result LD 427 C 212 Grn 72

Scarborough District Council, North Yorkshire; caused by the resignation of a Liberal Democrat councilllor Geoff Evans, who had refused to apologise to a constituent whom he had insulted.

High Street, Eastfield
  © Copyright Paul Glazzard and licensed for
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This is another ward covering a single large village.  Effectively a Scarborough suburb with a population of around 5,500, Eastfield can be found just to the south of Scarborough, immediately to the east of Seamer off the main road to York.  There is some industry here, with the Olympian Trading Park off the main road providing employment, and the village is home to the head office of Boyes, a chain of department stores prominent in Yorkshire and the north-east.

The ward's three seats split 2 Labour and one Lib Dem in 2003, but the Lib Dems have held all three seats since the 2007 election in which they had a massive majority.  Labour made inroads into the Lib Dem majority in 2011 but actually did better at a September 2010 by-election when the Lib Dem majority fell to 23 votes on a very low turnout.

In further bad news for the local Lib Dems their nominated candidate, Barry Pearson, had to withdraw from the election at the last minute, apparently due to a family bereavement. Unfortunately the withdrawal came after nominations had closed so there is no Liberal Democrat candidate on the ballot paper, meaning the seat is up for grabs.  In pole position is the Labour candidate Tony Randerson, who at the county elections in May gained the local county council division (Eastfield and Osgodby) from the Lib Dems on an enormous swing; Labour had finished fourth in the division in 2009.  Independent candidate Carole Gerarda is the only candidate from the 2011 district election here to try again, and she is joined by a second independent, Dawn Maxwell.  The Tories have nominated William Baines, the UKIP candidate is Jonathan Dodds, and the Greens' Annette Hudspeth (who gives an address in the Whitby area) completes the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: Scarborough and Whitby
North Yorkshire county council division: Eastfield and Osgodby
ONS Travel to Work Area: Scarborough

William Baines (C)
Jonathan Dodds (UKIP)
Carole Gerarda (Ind)
Annette Hudspeth (Grn)
Dawn Maxwell (Ind)
Tony Randerson (Lab)

May 2011 result LD 468/358/356 Lab 272/260/240 Ind 107/97 C 91/81
Sept 2010 by-election LD 182 Lab 159 Ind 110 C 100 BNP 27 Grn 13
May 2007 result LD 771/673/517 Lab 229/214 C 158/132
May 2003 result LD 538/303 Lab 363/324 Ind 159

Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Paul Salveson, who is concentrating on his role as a board member of the rail users' lobby group Passenger Focus.

Parkwood Mills
  © Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for
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From the Yorkshire coast to a very different part of Yorkshire.  In western Huddersfield along the road to Standedge and Manchester, Golcar is the sort of place whose view epitomises the Yorkshire mill town; stone-built houses as far as the eye can see, clinging to the steep sides of the Colne Valley, in whose narrow floor the local woollen mills were situated and in many cases still stand.  Think "Where the Heart Is", which was filmed up the valley in Slawit and Marsden, but perhaps not quite as pretty.

Did I say Colne Valley?  That might give you a clue as to the area's politics, for the Colne Valley is one of the longest-running hotspots of Liberalism, five times electing Liberal candidate Richard Wainwright to Parliament from the 1960s to the 1980s.  Since Wainwright's retirement the constituency has been won twice by Labour and three times by the Conservatives, who currently hold it, but the Lib Dem vote remains strong and they were second here at the 2010 election.

This is one of the weakest wards in the constituency for the Conservatives and very much a Lib Dem/Labour fight these days, with Labour having come out on top in the two elections since the Tory/Lib Dem coalition was formed; but both of those wins were narrow, by 202 votes in 2011 and 145 votes in 2012.  The area has rather volatile voting patterns, with the Greens getting a respectable vote at the 2004 election and the BNP finishing as runners-up in 2006 and 2007.

Defending for Labour is Stephan Jungnitz, who recently retired as principal of a local sixth-form college.  Christine Iredale, the Lib Dem councillor who was defeated at the 2012 election, wants her seat back.  The Tories and Greens have re-selected their regular candidates, respectively Clinton Simpson, an inspector for a local bus company, and music teacher Dan Greenwood.  Slawit-based Gregory Broome, a full-time carer, completes the ballot paper as the UKIP candidate.

Parliamentary constituency: Colne Valley
ONS Travel to Work Area: Huddersfield

Gregory Broome (UKIP)
Daniel Greenwood (Grn)
Christine Iredale (LD)
Stephan Jungnitz (Lab)
Clinton Simpson (C)

May 2012 result Lab 1729 LD 1584 C 548 Grn 490
May 2011 result Lab 1769 LD 1567 C 857 Grn 384 Ind 340 BNP 292 TUSC 59
May 2010 result LD 3166 Lab 2111 C 1917 BNP 783 Grn 381 Ind 289
May 2008 result LD 1634 Lab 982 BNP 944 C 883 Grn 425
May 2007 result LD 2093 BNP 1170 Lab 1085 C 633 Grn 321
May 2006 result LD 1453 BNP 1104 Lab 760 C 732 Grn 558 Save Huddersfield NHS 412
June 2004 result LD 1920/1911/1854 Lab 1217/1066/971 C 1097/1000/911 Grn 1018/748/652

Rugby District Council, Warwickshire; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Bill Sewell, who is retiring from local government at the age of 77, having served as a Rugby councillor for eleven years and as Mayor of Rugby in 2008/9.

High Street, Hillmorton
  © Copyright Stephen McKay and licensed for
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From the rugby league town of Huddersfield, in the month of the Rugby League World Cup, to a very different Rugby - the Warwickshire town of that name, after whose school the sport is based.  This by-election is in the south-eastern suburb of Hillmorton, a village on the Oxford Canal and West Coast Main Line which was annexed by Rugby in 1932.

This is Warwickshire's easternmost ward, and combines Hillmorton itself with part of the enormous Rugby radio station, a well-known landmark for travellers on the West Coast Main Line and the M1, which for many years transmitted messages to the UK's submarines together with the official NPL time signal.  With both of those functions now having been transferred to Cumbria, the radio station (which lies within the parish of Clifton upon Dunsmore) is now closed and apparently ripe for development.

Rugby was re-warded in 2012, with the new Hillmorton ward electing three Conservative councillors with Labour in second place.  The previous Hillmorton ward had councillors from all three parties from 2002 to 2007 - pretty unusual in a first-past-the-post context - but had voted Conservative each year since 2006.  On the other hand, the Eastlands and Hillmorton county division, which covers the Hillmorton proper part of the ward (the Clifton upon Dunsmore part is almost uninhabited, for now) returned two Lib Dem county councillors in May very comfortably; however, it's fair to say that the Lib Dem strength in the county division comes from the town's Paddox ward rather than here.

The Conservative candidate is Jim Buckley, a property developer.  Labour have selected Barbara Brown and the Lib Dem candidate is Tim Douglas, who lagged a long way behind his running-mates at the 2012 district election.  Also standing are the Greens' Peter Burrows and UKIP's Roy Harvey.

Parliamentary constituency: Rugby
Warwickshire county council division: Eastlands and Hillmorton (part in Rugby town); Fosse (part in Clifton upon Dunsmore parish)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Rugby

Barbara Brown (Lab)
Jim Buckley (C)
Peter Burrows (Grn)
Tim Douglas (LD)
Roy Harvey (UKIP)

May 2012 result C 804/706/662 Lab 534/451/427 LD 334/255/207 TUSC 119

Herefordshire Council; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Russell Hamilton, the cabinet member for the environment, housing and planning, over "disrespectful and bullying" behaviour.

Much Birch village hall
  © Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for
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For our final by-election of the week we travel to the Marches.  Over the years the Welsh/English border has been somewhat fluid, and that's reflected in the place-names; there are many villages on the Welsh side of the border with England names, and some on the English side with Welsh names.  So it is with this misnamed ward (Pontrilas itself is at least three miles outside the ward boundary) which covers twelve parishes south of Hereford and west of Ross-on-Wye, the largest of which (Much Birch, on the A49) has a population of 911, the smallest (Harewood) only 29 electors.  (The reason I'm comparing apples with oranges here is that the ONS won't publish the headcount for parishes less than 100 population.)  The Garway parish adjoins the Welsh border and several of the villages within the ward (Llandinabo, Llanwarne, Tretire with Michaelchurch) have distinctively Welsh names.

Another distinctively Welsh name is that of Godfrey Davis, the independent ward councillor here until he was defeated by the Tories' Richard Smith at the 2007 election.  Smith stood down in 2011 and was replaced by Russell Hamilton who fought off an independent challenge from Elaine Godding, third place going to the localist group It's Our County (Herefordshire).  It's Our County have had some success in Herefordshire - they easily held a by-election in Hereford two weeks ago - but their success has tended to be concentrated in Hereford and its hinterland, deeply rural areas like this being tougher nuts to crack for them.

The Tory defence is led by Elissa Swinglehurst, an author and parish councillor in Welsh Newton on the road to Monmouth.  (Despite being called Welsh Newton and having a Monmouth postcode, it's on the English side of the border.)  The other two candidates both live in the ward: Elaine Godding (a Little Birch parish councillor) is trying again, and the new It's Our County candidate is Much Birch parish councillor, web designer and children's entertainer Jon Norris.

Parliamentary constituency: Hereford and South Herefordshire
ONS Travel to Work Area: Hereford and Leominster

Elaine Godding (Ind)
Jon Norris (IOCH)
Elissa Swinglehurst (C)

May 2011 result C 728 Ind 515 IOCH 337
May 2007 result C 510 Ind 445 Grn 224 LD 162
May 2003 result Ind 904 C 765

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