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
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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
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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

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