Thursday, 19 December 2013

By-election Previews: 19 December 2013

Note from the editor: Apologies for the lack of formatting this week, but I'm posting this from my phone as I've had no internet access since Monday! The Scottish and Welsh previews for this week are also just here as well. Let me just wish all our readers a very merry Christmas, and hand over to Andrew Teale.

Let's get one last week of by-elections in before Christmas, shall we?  The Tories have most to lose this week with six of their council seats up for election: two in West Sussex and four in the eastern counties of England.  A Labour defence in Cwmbran will be covered in the Welsh Elections blog, while the Scottish Elections blog carries a preview of a contest in the Scottish Highlands.  But we start this week close to home in Bolton - for why would you start anywhere else?

HARPER GREEN, Bolton metropolitan borough council, Greater Manchester; caused by the death of Labour councillor Margaret Clare who had represented Harper Green ward since 1992.

Ah, Farnworth.  Even Bolton people think Farnworth is rough.  That bastion of British good taste, the Daily Mail, has written a series of articles decrying the behaviour of the locals, notably in relation to the closure last year of the Flying Shuttle pub; apparently it took thirteen policemen to clear the place and they didn't feel safe when they walked in.  Given that your columnist is looking for a house at the moment, perhaps it would be wise to avoid that area.

On the other hand, western Farnworth - which forms Harper Green ward - does have family connections.  My mother worked for many years at Dennis Guest's bakery on Plodder Lane, the main road west out of the town, and his and Aunty Anne's house in the Flower Estate - a prestigious 1920s and 1930s development by Farnworth UDC - was a place to go each Christmas until Anne died a few years ago.  Up the hill from the Flower Estate is the Royal Bolton Hospital, the busiest hospital in Greater Manchester, which it's traditional to describe as "troubled" because of the amount of money the NHS Trust loses, but which has been very good to us.  Your columnist once spent a couple of weeks as a temp on the psychiatric wards, then had a wisdom tooth extracted there a couple of years ago.  In the last year my mother has had four operations there: two for removal of cataracts, two in connection with treatment for breast cancer.  Next year Mum will be starting
 chemotherapy in earnest at the Royal Bolton, while my sister is booked into the maternity unit some time next spring - yes, in 2014 your columnist will, for the first time, become an uncle.

Much of the hospital lies on the site of Plodder Lane locomotive shed, closed in the 1960s or 1970s.  To the south of the shed is the Highfield area off Plodder Lane; to the north is Lever Edge, part of Bolton proper.  Highfield, Lever Edge and the Flower Estate each form around a third of the ward's population.

This is of course a safe Labour ward; even at the Labour nadir of 2008 they still carried this ward by 4.5 points (or 110 votes) over the Tories, and not even the deselection of councillor Laurence Williamson for the 2010 election could make a dent in the Labour majority; Williamson stood as an independent, polling 12%, but the Tories not only failed to capitalise but fell to a distant third place behind the Lib Dems.  Since the formation of the Coalition the Labour vote has grown to 73% at the most recent election in 2012.

Defending for Labour is Asha Ali Ismail from the Gilnow area of inner-west Bolton; she fought the hopeless Bradshaw ward last year.  The Tories' 2012 candidate Robert Tyler, a science teacher, tries again, while the Lib Dems have called for retired nurse Wendy Connor.  The Greens have selected Royal Bolton Hospital worker Kathryn Sykes, and completing the ballot paper is the former Mayor of Horwich Peter McGeehan, standing for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Bolton South East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Bolton
Postcode districts: BL3, BL4

Asha Ali Ismail (Lab)
Wendy Connor (LD)
Peter McGeehan (UKIP)
Kathy Sykes (Grn)
Robert Tyler (C)

May 2012 result Lab 1656 C 389 LD 222
May 2011 result Lab 1918 C 616 LD 326
May 2010 result Lab 2312 LD 1023 C 903 Ind 625 Grn 114
May 2008 result Lab 1181 C 1071 LD 390
May 2007 result Lab 1172 C 719 LD 419
May 2006 result Lab 1194 C 768 LD 454
June 2004 result Lab 1272/1196/1195 C 850/740/716 LD 839/838/791

BLACK ISLE, Highland council; caused by the death of Independent councillor Billy Barclay at the age of 62.  A farmer who died while tending to his cattle, he had been a Highland councillor since 2003.

This is one of the Isles that you get in Great Britain that are anything but (see also Axholme, Ely and Thanet).  The Black Isle is the peninsula dividing the Moray and Beauly Firths to the south and the Cromarty Firth to the north.  Much of the area is agricultural, with the main exception being the fishing port of Cromarty (once the centre of its own - very fragmented - county).  Communications to the Black Isle were greatly improved in 1982 with the opening of the Kessock Bridge connecting the peninsula to Inverness; the success of the bridge in boosting the local economy can be gauged by its appearing on the £100 note issued by the Bank of Scotland.

Barclay had first been elected in 2003 for the Avoch Fortrose ward, rather narrowly in a contest featuring three strong independent candidates, and topped the poll in the 2007 election for this ward, the first to use proportional representation.  He was joined by a second Independent candidate, a Liberal Democrat and an SNP candidate.  All four local councillors were re-elected at the most recent election in 2012, Barclay again topping the poll and being elected on first preferences alone.

Three independent candidates have come forward to succeed Billy Barclay.  On past experience, the favourite for the by-election will be his widow Jennifer Barclay; also standing are Fortrose-based Bill Fraser and Gwyn Phillips from Rosemarkie.  With the ward seeing strong votes for Independent candidates, the official party candidates will have to attract a lot of transfers to win: they are the Lib Dems' George Normington, who commutes over the Kessock Bridge to work in Inverness Citizens' Advice Bureau; the SNP's Jackie Hendry, wife of the SNP group leader on Highland council; the Greens' Myra Carus, who fought the ward in 2012; Labour's Shaun Finlayson, who is just 18 years old and will be the youngest-ever Highland councillor if elected; and the Conservatives' Douglas MacLean.

Parliamentary constituency: Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Holyrood constituency: Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch (Highlands and Islands region)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Inverness and Dingwall
Postcode districts: IV1, IV6, IV7, IV8, IV9, IV10, IV11

Jennifer Barclay (Ind)
Myra Carus (Grn)
Shaun Finlayson (Lab)
Bill Fraser (Ind)
Jackie Hendry (SNP)
Douglas MacLean (C)
George Normington (LD)
Gwyn Phillips (Ind)

May 2012 result Ind 2259 (2 seats) LD 646 (1 seat) SNP 610 (1 seat) Grn 292 Lab 216 C 141 Chr 57
May 2007 result Ind 2651 (2 seats) LD 973 (1 seat) SNP 558 (1 seat) C 408 Grn 267 Lab 192

CROESYCEILIOG NORTH, Torfaen county borough council; caused by the death of Labour councillor Cynthia Beynon.  A former member of the Torfaen council cabinet, she had represented this division since 2012 after moving from Panteg division, where she had first been elected in 2004.

This Cwmbran suburb can be found to the north-east of the new town off the main Newport-Abergavenny road, and is a mostly residential area much of which is New Town development from the 1950s and 1960s.  Traditionally the main employer here is local government; the old Gwent county hall was located here, and until 2012 this was the main administrative base for Monmouthshire county council (although Croesyceiliog is located outside Monmouthshire, it does form part of the Monmouth parliamentary constituency).  The council buildings were demolished earlier this year, having developed concrete cancer.
The 2012 election in this division was the first contested election in Croesyceiliog North this century, Labour having been returned unopposed in 2004 and 2008.  The two Labour candidates were easily elected, their main opposition coming from independent candidates.

Defending for Labour is Nigel Davies, three times chairman of Croesyceiliog and Llanyrafon community council and a community councillor for the division.  One of the Independent candidates from the 2012 election, Terry Irons, is having a second go.  The Tories have selected Nick Jones, Plaid Cymru fight the ward for the first time this century in the shape of Pontypool-based Darren Hackley-Green, and UKIP's candidate is Aneurin Preece.

Parliamentary constituency: Monmouth
Assembly electoral region: South Wales East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Newport and Cwmbran
Postcode district: NP44

Nigel Davies (Lab)
Darren Hackley-Green (PC)
Terry Irons (Ind)
Nick Jones (C)
Aneurin Preece (UKIP)

May 2012 result Lab 627/479 Ind 256/224/92 C 175
May 2008 result 2 Lab unopposed
June 2004 result 2 Lab unopposed

HAYWARDS HEATH EAST, West Sussex county council; and HAYWARDS HEATH FRANKLANDS, Mid Sussex district council; caused by the death of Conservative councillor John de Mierre, who had been a county councillor from 2005 to 2009 and again since May 2013, and a district councillor since 2011.

The archetypal commuter town, Haywards Heath owes its size and location to its position on the Brighton railway line, which has linked the town with London and Brighton since 1841.  The development which is covered by the modern Franklands ward, which covers the south-east of the town, mostly arose from a 1920s scheme to help families on low incomes to become self-sufficient.

Franklands is the strongest Conservative ward in Haywards Heath and the party have not been seriously challenged there in recent years.  The Lib Dems normally finish second.

The Haywards Heath East county division combines the Franklands ward with Haywards Heath Bentswood ward, an interesting three-way marginal which elected two Labour councillors in 2003, split Lib Dem/Labour in 2007 and split Conservative/Labour in 2011.  This split nature spills over into the county division: first fought in 2005, this was a three-way split with less than six percentage points separating John de Mierre, who won with 36%, from third-placed Labour on 31%.  The 2009 vote saw a Labour collapse in the Lib Dems' favour and a narrow Lib Dem win over the Conservatives by 43 votes.  By contrast, the May 2013 election saw a close four-way split: the Tories gained the seat from the Lib Dems but with only a third of the vote, UKIP were second with 27%, Labour third with 21% and the Lib Dems crashed to fourth place and 18% of the vote.

So, the county division looks like a very interesting contest in which nobody can be counted out with confidence.  Defending for the Conservatives is Stephen Hillier, a town councillor and Deputy Mayor of Haywards Heath.  UKIP's Charles Burrell tries again after his near-miss in May, as do Labour's Richard Goddard and former Lib Dem county councillor Anne Hall.  Joining in this time is the Green Party's Paul Brown, who gives an address in East Grinstead.

The same five parties are represented in the Franklands by-election, but with different candidates in each case.  Town councillor Roderick Clarke defends the district council seat for the Conservatives.  Anne-Marie Lucraft stands for the Lib Dems, Gregory Mountain for Labour, Howard Burrell for UKIP and Miranda Diboll for the Greens.

Haywards Heath East
Parliamentary constituency: Mid Sussex
Mid Sussex wards: Haywards Heath Bentswood, Haywards Heath Franklands
ONS Travel to Work Area: Crawley
Postcode districts: RH16, RH17

Paul Brown (Grn)
Charles Burrell (UKIP)
Richard Goddard (Lab)
Anne Hall (LD)
Stephen Hillier (C)

May 2013 result C 789 UKIP 647 Lab 505 LD 424
June 2009 result LD 1237 C 1194 Lab 406 BNP 168
May 2005 result C 1779 LD 1615 Lab 1504

Haywards Heath Franklands
Parliamentary constituency: Mid Sussex
West Sussex county council division: Haywards Heath East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Crawley
Postcode districts: RH16, RH17

Howard Burrell (UKIP)
Roderick Clarke (C)
Miranda Diboll (Grn)
Anne-Marie Lucraft (LD)
Gregory Mountain (Lab)

May 2011 result C 950/897 LD 400/389 Lab 214/209
May 2007 result C 756/675 Ind 420 LD 239/226 Lab 125
May 2003 result C 548/521 LD 330/324 Lab 134/133

ELM AND CHRISTCHURCH, Fenland district council, Cambridgeshire; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Mac Cotterell.  A freelance journalist and photographer, Cotterell was in his fiftieth year in local government, first having been elected to Wisbech Rural District Council in 1964; he had been a Fenland district councillor since 1979, serving for over a decade as Leader of the Council, and was chairman of Elm parish council for more than twenty years.  His service to the community was recognised in 2006 when he was appointed MBE.

This poorly-drawn ward covers the large expanse of fenland betwen March and Wisbech.  The larger Elm parish is directly to the south of Wisbech, with Elm village serving as a suburb of the town; it is a generally agricultural area specialising in fruit orchards, and the village of Friday Bridge has a hostel for migrant agricultural workers which started off life in the Second World War as a prisoner-of-war camp.  To the south-east across the old course of the Nene (which has no crossing point here) is Christchurch parish, based on a tiny village hard up against the Norfolk border.  One former rector of Christchurch was the father of Dorothy L Sayers, whose Lord Peter Wimsey novel The Nine Tailors is set in the area.

Unsurprisingly, Cotterell had a big personal vote and ran far ahead of his running-mate in the 2007 and 2011 elections to Elm and Christchurch ward.  Runner-up spot in the ward traditionally goes to independents, with Phil Webb (who was elected as Cotterell's Tory running-mate in the 2007 election) finishing in that position in 2003 and 2011.  One factor which can't be seen from previous district results is UKIP, who in 2013 gained from the Conservatives the Waldersey county division which covers Elm parish, and nearly gained the March East county division which covers Christchurch parish.

Defending for the Conservatives is Michelle Tanfield, a Wisbech town councillor.  Phil Webb, from Friday Bridge, is again trying to get back onto the council as an independent.  Labour have selected Wisbech-based Dean Reeves, the Lib Dems have called for March-based Trevor Brookman, and UKIP's candidate is Alan Burbridge, from Elm.

Parliamentary constituency: North East Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire county council division: March East (Christchurch parish), Waldersey (Elm parish)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wisbech
Postcode districts: PE13, PE14, PE15

Trevor Brookman (LD)
Alan Burbridge (UKIP)
Dean Reeves (Lab)
Michelle Tanfield (C)
Phil Webb (Ind)

May 2011 result C 711/489 Ind 268/198 Lab 221 LD 118
May 2007 result C 700/540 Ind 319
May 2003 result C 550/486 Ind 368

MARKET, Forest Heath district council, Suffolk; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Malcolm Smith at the age of 63, from lung cancer.  A Mildenhall parish councillor for many years, Smith served as chairman of Forest Heath District Council from 2009 to 2010.

"Then at last, the mighty ship
Descending on a point of flame
Made contact with the human race at Mildenhall"
-Pink Floyd, "Let There Be More Light"

This is one of two wards covering the Suffolk town of Mildenhall.  The administrative centre for Forest Heath council, Mildenhall is best known for two things: the Mildenhall Treasure, a hoard of 4th-century Roman silver found in the area; and the enormous US Air Force base, which results in 18% of the town's residents being US citizens.  Market ward covers none of the base, instead consisting of the southern half of the built-up area plus most of Mildenhall Woods to the east of the town.

The ward has an interesting electoral history.  At the 2003 election the Tories won both seats, but their majority over the single Labour candidate for the second seat was just one vote.  Since then it has been plain sailing for the Tories in the ward, handily defeating UKIP in a straight fight in 2007 and Labour in a straight fight in 2011.  On the other hand, the Tories held off UKIP in the wider Mildenhall county division by just seven votes in May's county election.

So this has the potential to be an interesting by-election.  The Tories have picked a strong candidate to defend the ward: John Bloodworth, the chairman of Mildenhall parish council.  He is up up against another Mildenhall parish councillor, UKIP's David Chandler.  This is a straight fight.

Parliamentary constituency: West Suffolk
Suffolk county council division: Mildenhall
ONS Travel to Work Area: Thetford and Mildenhall
Postcode district: IP28

John Bloodworth (C)
David Chandler (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 615/570 Lab 261/237
May 2007 result C 494/436 UKIP 254/214
May 2003 result C 339/251 Lab 250 West Suffolk Independent Alliance 149 Ind 108 UKIP 106/86

SCOTTER RURAL, Lincolnshire county council; and SCOTTER, West Lindsey district council; both caused by the death of Conservative councillor Chris Underwood-Frost, who had served on the district council since 1999 and on the county council for 12 years.

For the final previews of the year, we head to the northwestern corner of the county of Lincolnshire.  Although this is the last act of this column for 2013, it is in fact the first in a two-part series, as Scotter ward's other district councillor has also recently died.  A separate by-election will be held for that vacancy in the new year.

The Scotter ward is a series of tiny villages to the north of Gainsborough.  Inland are the parishes of Scotter itself, Scotton, Northorpe and Laughton, while on the right bank of the River Trent can be found the parishes of East Ferry, Wildsworth, East Stockwith and Walkerith (one of the smallest parishes in the country with an area only just creeping over one square kilometre).  Those last two parishes form a sort of salient with only a very narrow neck of land connecting them to the rest of the ward.  The Scotter Rural division also includes the neighbouring Thonock ward to the south, which is the same only more so, consisting of the parishes of Morton, Thonock, Blyton (perhaps the largest village in the division) and Pilham.

While both the ward and the division have been consistently won by the Conservatives over the last decade, both of them came under pressure from the Lib Dems around the middle of the last decade.  The Tory majority was 131 votes in Scotter ward in 2004 and 170 votes in Scotter Rural in 2005, before falling to zero at the 2007 ward election in which 1562 votes split 781 to Underwood-Frost and 781 to his Lib Dem opponent, Underwood-Frost holding his seat thanks to the toss of a coin.  After coming so close, the Lib Dem challenge has since faded away; the runner-up spot at the most recent district election in Scotter in 2011 was taken by an Independent, while UKIP were second here in May's county council election.

The defending Conservative candidate for the county division is Sturton-by-Stow resident Richard Butroid, whom I described in this column in February as an electrician in the health and safety sector who has represented Lincolnshire at clay pigeon shooting; he will be hoping for better luck this time than he had in a district council by-election in Gainsborough in February or in May's county council election, in which he finished fourth in the Gainsborough Hill division.  Lincoln resident Nick Smith tries for UKIP, regular Lib Dem county candidate Lesley Rollings (from Pilham) tries again, and Chris Darcel stands for the Lincolnshire Independents.

In the Scotter ward by-election John Cox, from Sturton-by-Stow, defends for the Conservatives.  His opposition will come from independent candidate Chris Day, from Scotter; the Lib Dems' Barry Coward, from Gainsborough; and UKIP's Howard Thompson, from Claxby near Market Rasen and another veteran of that district council by-election in February.

Scotter Rural
Parliamentary constituency: Gainsborough
West Lindsey district council wards: Scotter, Thonock
ONS Travel to Work Area: Scunthorpe
Postcode districts: DN17, DN21

Richard Butroid (C)
Chris Darcel (Lincs Ind)
Lesley Rollings (LD)
Nick Smith (UKIP)

May 2013 result C 717 UKIP 428 LD 392 Lab 172
June 2009 result C 1447 LD 791 Lab 204
May 2005 result C 1844 LD 1674

Parliamentary constituency: Gainsborough
Lincolnshire county council division: Scotter Rural
ONS Travel to Work Area: Scunthorpe
Postcode districts: DN17, DN21

Barry Coward (LD)
John Cox (C)
Chris Day (Ind)
Howard Thompson (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 1164/924 Ind 623 LD 332
May 2008 result C 945 LD 705
May 2007 result C 782 LD 781
June 2004 result C 850 LD 719
May 2003 result C 920 LD 319

And that's a wrap for the electoral year in Great Britain.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the readers of column (yes, both of you) for sticking with me through another year; I hope that you learned many interesting and illuminating facts, and that any errors which crept in were at least amusing.  This column will return in 2014 in time for the New Year's first by-election in Swinton, Greater Manchester, on Tuesday 7th January; until then, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a New Year that's better than the year just gone.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

By-election Previews: 12 December 2013

Just three contests taking place this week, with each major party defending a seat across a wide spread of England.  Labour have a suburban seat to defend in the West Midlands, with the Tories defending a large rural seat in northernmost Yorkshire, while the Lib Dems try to hold on to their sole seat in South Buckinghamshire.  One by-election in the Topcliffe ward of Hambleton that was intended to be held today was filled unopposed by the Conservatives.

Warwickshire County Council; caused by the death of Labour councillor Keith Richardson at the age of 69.  A full-time trade union official for many years, Richardson had served as a county councillor for just five months.

Coventry Colliery Monument
  © Copyright Alan Paxton and licensed for
reuse under this 
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This county division contains relatively little of Bedworth itself; located to the west of the A444 Bedworth Bypass, it is centred on junction 3 of the M6 motorway and is based primarily on the Coventry overspill villages of Ash Green and Keresley End together with part of Bedworth Heath.  Keresley End is a pit village built to serve the former Coventry Colliery, which has now been redeveloped into a large warehouse/distribution park, while Ash Green is more suburban in character.

Bedworth is one of the most strongly Labour parts of Warwickshire, and the Bedworth West county division is generally safe Labour although their majority over the Conservatives fell to just four percentage points in the 2009 election, which also had a large third-place BNP vote.  Labour recovered the division's safe status in the May 2013 election.  While the Tories performed well to gain a ward elsewhere in Nuneaton and Bedworth borough last week, this is a much stiffer task from their point of view.

Defending for Labour is Brian Hawkes, one of the two Nuneaton and Bedworth borough councillors representing Heath ward, which covers Bedworth Heath.  The Tories have reselected their candidate from May's election, Janet Batterbee, as have the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition with Natara Hunter.  Completing the ballot paper is the division's first UKIP candidate, Andrew Hutchings.

Parliamentary constituency: North Warwickshire
Nuneaton and Bedworth district council wards: Exhall (part), Heath (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Coventry
Postcode districts: CV6, CV7, CV12

Janet Batterbee (C)
Brian Hawkes (Lab)
Natara Hunter (TUSC)
Andrew Hutchings (UKIP)

May 2013 result Lab 1219 C 569 Grn 173 TUSC 139
June 2009 result Lab 889 C 776 BNP 427 LD 289 Grn 174
May 2005 result Lab 2484 C 1278 LD 719

Richmondshire District Council, North Yorkshire; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Lin Clarkson.

Tunstall near Catterick
  © Copyright Nick W and licensed for reuse
under this 
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This is a large rural ward essentially covering the area to the west and south-west of Catterick.  Named after the fourteenth-century manor house of Hornby Castle, now home to the Clutterbuck family after being owned in the past by the Barons Conyers, the Earls of Holderness and the Dukes of Leeds, the ward consists of a series of small villages, the largest of which is perhaps Tunstall.

The ward has a history going back into antiquity: the Romans built a fort called Cataractonium to protect the point where Dere Street crosses the River Swale, and the location was significant enough to appear in Ptolemy's second-century AD map of the world (as Katouraktonion).  That crossing point later became Catterick Bridge on the Great North Road, and is the location of possibly the ward's main attraction to outsiders, Catterick Racecourse.  Catterick Bridge is the northernmost hamlet within the ward.

So, what does the formbook say about this by-election?  The ward was independent-held until 2007 when the Independent councillor returned and the Conservatives gained the ward in a contest with another independent.  The new Conservative councillor Melva Steckles was re-elected unopposed in 2011 but resigned a year later; the resulting by-election in May 2012 returned the Tories' Lin Clarkson against independent and Labour opposition.  Clarkson has now resigned in her turn.  The wider Catterick Bridge county division was held by the Conservatives in May's county election, with UKIP second and an independent candidate campaigning against hospital closures coming in third.

The defending Conservative candidate is Robin Scott, from Harmby near Leyburn, who runs a web design and development business and has a personal website ( as glossy as you would expect a web designer to have.  Richmond-based independent Helen Grant tries again after being runner-up in the 2012 district by-election; in May she was elected as county councillor for the neigbouring Central Richmondshire division (which covers Catterick Garrison) having won a May 2012 by-election for that county seat which had also been previously held by Melva Steckles.  UKIP's Jacqueline Brakenberry, from Brompton-on-Swale at the other end of Catterick Bridge, completes the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: Richmond (Yorkshire)
North Yorkshire county council division: Catterick Bridge
Civil parishes: Appleton East and West, Arrathorne, Brough with St Giles, Hornby, Hunton, Tunstall
ONS Travel to Work Area: Richmond and Catterick
Postcode districts: DL8, DL9, DL10

Jacqueline Brakenberry (UKIP)
Helen Grant (Ind)
Robin Scott (C)

May 2012 by-election C 204 Ind 147 Lab 45
May 2011 result C unopposed
May 2007 result C 294 Ind 158
May 2003 result Ind 290 Richmondshire Ind Group 42

South Bucks District Council; caused by the resignation of South Bucks' only Liberal Democrat councillor, Alan Oxley.

Iver railway station
  © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for
reuse under this 
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On the western edge of Greater London, this is Buckinghamshire's southeasternmost ward, nestled in the gap between Slough and London.  Iver (the centre of a surprisingly large civil parish) and Richings Park are both villages just off the M25 motorway, with Richings Park being the location for Iver railway station, currently a sleepy suburban station on the Great Western Main Line but possibly destined for greater things; one proposal for putting Heathrow Airport on the high speed rail map involves redeveloping Iver station into a Heathrow Hub intercity station.

This is the only South Bucks ward in which the Lib Dems are a factor, the party gaining two seats from the Conservatives at the 2007 election in which, surprisingly, the Tories only fielded two candidates despite holding all three seats prior to the election.  This came after the Lib Dems had won the wider Iver county division (with Alan Oxley as the candidate) in the 2005 election.  The Tories got the county seat back in 2009 and regained one of the Lib Dem district council seats at the 2011 election, Oxley polling a long way ahead of his running-mates and clearly having a substantial personal vote.  In May's county election the Tory majority over Oxley in the Iver division increased from 2.5 points to 15 points.

It remains to be seen whether Oxley's personal vote can transfer to the new Lib Dem candidate Peter Chapman, who lost out to the Tories in his home ward of Gerrards Cross North in 2011, in a June 2012 by-election in Iver Heath ward and this May's county election in Gerrards Cross.  The Tory candidate is business consultant Paul Griffin, chair of the Iver Community Action Group.  Completing the ballot paper is UKIP's Ken Wight, from Stoke Poges.

Parliamentary constituency: Beaconsfield
Buckinghamshire county council division: Iver
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wycombe and Slough
Postcode districts: SL3, SL0

Peter Chapman (LD)
Paul Griffin (C)
Ken Wight (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 868/767/697 LD 772/462/419
May 2007 result LD 809/671/521 C 686/622
May 2003 result C 728/703/658 LD 486

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

By-election Previews: 5 December 2013

This week there are a total of eight by-elections taking place across the country.  One contest in Glasgow will be covered on the Scottish Elections blog, while two Cardiff contests will be covered in the Welsh Elections blog.  In England, Labour are defending three seats, the Conservatives one, and one more seat is up for grabs from a local residents association.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Warwickshire; caused by the disqualification of Labour councillor Kevin Young for failing to attend any meetings of the council in six months.

George Eliot NHS Trust Hospital, Nuneaton
  © Copyright Peter Lloyd and licensed for
reuse under this 
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This ward is named after the Tudor and Gothic Revival country house of Arbury Hall and its associated estate, which has been in the hands of the Newdigate family and its successors (currently the 4th Viscount Daventry) since the sixteenth century.  As well as being a Grade I listed building, Arbury Hall was immortalised in literature under the nom-de-plume of "Cheverel Manor" in the short story "Mr Gilfil's Love Story" by local lass George Eliot; Mary Anne Evans was the daughter of the Arbury Estate manager.  Eliot has left her name on Nuneaton in many ways, including the troubled George Eliot Hospital, the main A&E hospital for Nuneaton around which most of the ward's population is clustered.

This ward is a key marginal in the struggle for the Nuneaton parliamentary seat (the wider borough, which includes Bedworth, is better for Labour).  In 2002 it was Labour fairly comfortably.  The Tories reduced the Labour majority to 31 votes at the 2004 election, and gained the ward's two seats from Labour in 2006 and 2008.  Labour got one of the seats back in 2010 with a majority of 29 votes, and the other in 2012 very safely.  In May Labour also gained from the Conservatives the wider Arbury and Stockingford county division, former Nuneaton Labour MP Bill Olner topping the poll.

Defending for Labour is Tricia Elliott, a teacher at the town's King Edward VI sixth-form college, which in times past educated Nuneaton's present Conservative MP Marcus Jones.  The Tories have selected photographer Jeff Morgan.  The only other party to stand here in 2012 was the Greens, who have reselected Mike Wright.  Also standing in this by-election are Bedworth-based Trevor Beard for UKIP, the BNP's Alwyn Deacon (who fought this county division in May), TUSC's Aidan O'Toole and the English Democrats' Stephen Paxton.

Parliamentary constituency: Nuneaton
Warwickshire county council division: Arbury and Stockingford
ONS Travel to Work Area: Coventry
Postcode district: CV10

May 2012 result Lab 832 C 475 Grn 145
May 2010 result Lab 1383 C 1354 BNP 309 Grn 224
May 2008 result C 804 Lab 594 BNP 347 LD 162
May 2006 result C 616 Lab 463 LD 269
June 2004 result Lab 535 C 504 LD 295
May 2002 result Lab 573/546 C 434/433

Manchester City Council; caused by the death of Labour councillor Mike Carmody.

Daily Express Building, Great Ancoats Street
  © Copyright Stephen Richards and licensed for
reuse under this 
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We've been here before, and very recently; this is the second by-election in Ancoats in just eight weeks, Mike Carmody having died just before the polling date for the first by-election on 10th October.

There is a very detailed description of Ancoats and Clayton ward in the 10th October previews, so this time I shall restrict myself to noting that this ward combines the famous Industrial Revolution suburb of Ancoats, now being extensively regenerated, with the more standard-issue Manchester suburb of Clayton on the Ashton New Road.  There has been time since the last by-election for one material change to the description in the last preview: the Droyslden Metrolink branch, which links the various parts of the ward together, is now the Ashton-under-Lyne Metrolink branch following the opening of a further extension.

Recently the ward has been seeing big, significant wins for the blue team, but those are restricted to the pitch at the Etihad Stadium in the centre of the ward.  In terms of votes in ballot boxes, Ancoats and Clayton is as red as they come, a status confirmed by the October by-election in which Labour polled 71%, which was actually four points lower than in the 2012 ordinary election.  Best of the rest in October were UKIP on 9%, the Lib Dems (who were competitive here in the early Noughties) finishing seventh in a field of seven candidates.

Defending for Labour this time is Ollie Manco, a careers advisor and secretary of the Manchester Central constituency Labour party.  UKIP have selected Blackley-based Martin Power, while the Greens' Pete Birkinshaw is one of three candidates from the October by-election to stand again, along with the Pirate Party UK leader Loz Kaye (in his home ward) and the BNP's Gareth Black.  The Tory candidate this time is David Semple, a film-maker from Old Trafford, while the Lib Dems are represented by Clayton-based Claude Nsumbu, who stood here in 2010.  Finally, three new parties have thrown their respective hats into the ring: the Communist League (represented by Carole Bellamy from Fallowfield), the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Alex Davidson from Old Trafford) and the unreconstructed Liberal Party (Ken Dobson from Ancoats).

Parliamentary constituency: Manchester Central
ONS Travel to Work Area: Manchester
Postcode districts: M1, M4, M11, M40, M43, M60, M61, M99

Caroline Bellamy (Communist League)
Pete Birkinshaw (Grn)
Gareth Black (BNP)
Alex Davidson (TUSC)
Ken Dobson (Lib)
Loz Kaye (Pirate)
Ollie Manco (Lab)
Claude Nsumbu (LD)
Martin Power (UKIP)
David Semple (C)

Oct 2013 by-election Lab 1239 UKIP 166 Grn 89 C 82 Pirate 79 BNP 58 LD 44
May 2012 result Lab 1862 Grn 215 C 173 LD 100 TUSC 82 Pirate 75
May 2011 result Lab 2202 Grn 369 C 278 LD 220
May 2010 result Lab 2845 LD 1265 C 678 Grn 404
May 2008 result Lab 1428 LD 403 C 334 Grn 226
May 2007 result Lab 1518 LD 473 Grn 148 C 135 Ind 76
May 2006 result Lab 1463 LD 1235 C 136 Grn 126 Ind 71
June 2004 result Lab 1406/1385/1330 LD 1237/1216/1028 C 157/153/135 Grn 144/124/100 Ind 108

Liverpool City Council; caused by the resignation of the Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, Labour councillor Paul Brant.

Albert Dock, Liverpool
  © Copyright Jeff Buck and licensed for reuse
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Here we have another ward which has been previewed before in this column, although you have to go back a little bit further to the previous by-election, which was in July 2012.

The Riverside ward of Liverpool covers some of the famous areas of the city.  Running south from the edge of the city centre, here can be found the Albert Dock, Chinatown, the Anglican cathedral, Dingle and so on, with Liverpool Central station connecting the ward to the rest of Merseyside.  However, most of the ward's population live in the notorious byword for urban deprivation that is Toxteth.  Any ward that includes Toxteth is going to be safe Labour, and the Labour vote has grown from 57% in 2004 to 81% in the 2012 ordinary election, in which the Lib Dems - by then in severe disarray in Liverpool - failed to stand a candidate.  That 2012 ordinary election also saw the election of ward councillor Joe Anderson as Mayor of Liverpool in the first round; the resulting by-election in July 2012 saw the Labour share fall slightly to 77%, the Greens being best of the rest on 9% of the vote.

The defending Labour candidate is Michelle Corrigan, a 29-year-old health and social charity worker and volunteer.  Up against her are the Green candidate and local PPC Martin Dobson, who is campaigining against plans by the council to sell part of Sefton Park Meadows; Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate John Marston; Kevin White for the Liberal Democrats; Chris Hall for the Conservatives; Adam Heatherington for UKIP; Steven McEllenborough for the English Democrats; and independents Peter Cooney and Alison Goudie.

Parliamentary constituency: Liverpool Riverside
ONS Travel to Work Area: Liverpool
Postcode districts: L1, L3, L8, L70, L74

Peter Cooney (Ind)
Michelle Corrigan (Lab)
Martin Dobson (Grn)
Alison Goudie (Ind)
Chris Hall (C)
Adam Heatherington (UKIP)
John Marston (TUSC)
Steven McEllenborough (EDP)
Kevin White (LD)

July 2012 by-election Lab 1424 Grn 163 TUSC 116 LD 81 C 70
May 2012 result Lab 2666 Grn 191 C 139 TUSC 109 EDP 103 Lib 66
May 2011 result Lab 2836 C 201 LD 198 Grn 196 TUSC 88 Lib 30
May 2010 result Lab 3978 LD 1022 C 420 Grn 281 Lib 193
May 2008 result Lab 1858 LD 202 C 189 Grn 184 Lib 102
May 2007 result Lab 1678 LD 252 C 241 Grn 184 Lib 63
May 2006 result Lab 1562 LD 267 C 205 Grn 180 Lib 90 United Socialist 64
June 2004 result Lab 1532/1524/1468 LD 712/681/637 Grn 188/165/154 C 171/166 Comm 86

Chelmsford City Council, Essex; caused by the disqualification of Conservative councillor Maureen Moulds, who has been in poor health, for failing to attend any meetings of the council in six months.

South Woodham Ferrers Station
  © Copyright John Salmon and licensed for
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There's a ward name to get your tongue around.  Try saying that ten times - you're guaranteed to mess it up.

This is the northern of the two wards covering the relatively new town of South Woodham Ferrers, much of which has been developed since the mid-1970s.  In the Essex marshes on the north bank of the Crouch estuary, South Woodham Ferrers is linked to the outside world by a single A-road to the South Essex towns together with the single-track Crouch Valley railway line; change at Wickford for Liverpool Street.  The ward is dominated by Bushy Hill to the north of the town with its radar testing station.  One peculiarity of the town is that the freehold for the vast majority of the land is owned by the supermarket company Asda.

A traditionally Tory ward, the Conservatives have come under pressure in recent years from the localist South Woodham Ferrers Independents, led by former Lib Dem candidate Ian Roberts who has stood here in every district election this century.  Roberts was 136 votes behind the Conservatives across the town in May's county election, and in the 2011 district election the Tory majorities in this ward ranged from 256 to 196.

The defending Conservative candidate is Linda Denston, wife of one of the two remaining Tory councillors for the ward.  Ian Roberts tries again for the South Woodham Ferrers Independents.  Derek Barnett is the Labour candidate, as he was in May's county election.  Also standing are Chelmsford-based Jeni Goldfinch for the Lib Dems, and UKIP candidate Ian Nicholls who gives an address in Writtle, on the other side of Chelmsford.

Parliamentary constituency: Maldon
Essex county council division: South Woodham Ferrers
ONS Travel to Work Area: Chelmsford and Braintree
Postcode district: CM3

Derek Barnett (Lab)
Linda Denston (C)
Jeni Goldfinch (LD)
Ian Nicholls (UKIP)
Ian Roberts (South Woodham Ferrers Ind)

May 2011 result C 1170/1145/1110 South Woodham Ferrers Ind 914/887/807 Lab 222/211/197 LD 154
May 2007 result C 1179/1100/1060 Ind 415 LD 234/195/132 Lab 185/171/140
May 2003 result C 915/914/905 LD 434/415/400 Ind 409 Lab 218/146/136

Dartford Borough Council, Kent; caused by the death of councillor Leslie Bobby of the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association.

Albert Road, Swanscombe
  © Copyright Chris Whippet and licensed for
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More marshland next to an estuary, this time on the south bank of the Thames estuary.  Swanscombe has a long history going back to prehistory, thanks the discovery of parts of the skull of the 400,000-year-old Swanscombe Man - now thought to a female Homo heidelbergensis.  The modern town of Swanscombe grew thanks to chalk quarrying and the cement industry; one of the large quarries, separating Swanscombe from the town of Northfleet to the east, is now the site of Ebbsfleet International railway station on High Speed 1, with regular trains to London, Paris and Brussels.

Swanscombe local politics is the fiefdom of the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association, who at the most recent district election in 2011 were opposed only by Labour and UKIP.  The Residents have also held the Swanscombe and Greenhithe county council seat since 2009, narrowly holding off the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP in May to win with less than 27% of the vote.

Defending for the Residents Association is Vic Openshaw, who lost his district council seat in Greenhithe ward to the Conservatives in 2011.  Labour have selected Steve Doran, who despite the name is a woman and a former mayoress of Dartford.  Regular UKIP candidate Stephen Wilders tries again.  The Conservatives are contesting the ward for the first time since 2003 with Steven Jarnell, and the former Residents county councillor Richard Lees, who stood down in May, is standing as an independent.

Parliamentary constituency: Dartford
Kent county council division: Swanscombe and Greenhithe
ONS Travel to Work Area: London
Postcode districts: DA10, DA11

Steve Doran (Lab)
Steven Jarnell (C)
Richard Lees (Ind)
Vic Openshaw (SGRA)
Stephen Wilders (UKIP)

May 2011 result SGRA 1063/1011/993 Lab 359/342/303 UKIP 211
May 2007 result SGRA 946/897/879 Lab 265/246/223

May 2003 result SGRA 628/528/473 Lab 455/312/290 Ind 419 C 71/68/59