Wednesday, 23 October 2013

By-Elections Previews: 24 October 2013

Ten by-elections are to be held on 24th October 2013.  Labour have three English defences, in Loughborough, in Wigan and on the Wirral.  The Tories will defend seats in West Sussex, Havant and Leicestershire, and will also try to recover a seat in Devon where the retiring councillor had gone Independent.  There is one Lib Dem defence, in Norfolk, and two by-elections in Scotland which will be covered on the Scottish Elections blog: a Labour seat in Dunfermline and an SNP seat in Hamilton are up for election.  Also in this week's column are two examples of nominative determinism and one terrible Eurovision joke.

WARNHAM AND RUSPER
West Sussex County Council; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Mick Hodgson.  A chartered surveyor by profession, Hodgson had served on the county council since 2001; he had formerly been vice-chairman of the county council and chairman of Warnham parish council.

The Plough at Rusper
  © Copyright Richard Rogerson and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
This is a curiously-shaped rural division, wrapping around the north side of Horsham like a pair of earmuffs; an area of villages with no one settlement dominating.  To the west of Horsham are the parishes of Warnham, Slinfold and Rudgwick, with Rusper lying to the north-east and Colgate to the east of Horsham.

This is all very Tory countryside and the Conservatives were not seriously challenged here at the 2013 election, although there was a swing from them to UKIP who consolidated their second place in the division.  The three Horsham district council wards covered by the division were all very safe for the Conservatives at the most recent district council election in 2011, and the Tories have held all four district council seats since 2007 when they easily gained the Lib Dem seat in Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham ward.

Defending for the Conservatives is Liz Kitchen, who is the long-serving Horsham district councillor for Rusper and Colgate ward and lives in Rusper.  Geoff Stevens, from Billingshurst, tries again for UKIP after his second-placed finish in May.  The other three candidates all give Horsham addresses: they are solicitor and former Horsham district councillor Tony Millson for the Liberal Democrats, who fought a Crawley division in May and failed to crack 100 votes; Green candidate Darrin Green, in this week's first example of nominative determinism; and Labour's Carol Hayton.

Parliamentary constituency: Horsham
Horsham district council wards: Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham; Rudgwick; Rusper and Colgate
ONS Travel to Work Area: Crawley

Darrin Green (Grn)
Carol Hayton (Lab)
Liz Kitchen (C)
Tony Millson (LD)
Geoff Stevens (UKIP)

May 2013 result C 1228 UKIP 673 LD 331
June 2009 result C 1783 UKIP 583 LD 535 Lab 125


WATERLOO
Havant Borough Council, Hampshire; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor John Hunt due to poor health.

Clock in Waterlooville
  © Copyright Peter Facey and
licensed for reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
This ward covers the centre of Waterlooville, one of the towns in the South Hampshire conurbation which have merged into each other.  The strange name is believed to have come from the pub in the town centre on the old London-Portsmouth road, the "Heroes of Waterloo"; it is said that many Waterloo veterans settled in the area after disembarking at Portsmouth.  Whatever the truth of this, the town's proximity to Portsmouth has ensured its prosperity; GEC manufactured torpedoes here for a while from the 1980s.

The Waterloo ward has voted heavily Conservative throughout the noughties, which makes the first result on these boundaries - an uncontested election in 2002, the Tories winning two seats and the Lib Dems one - rather strange in retrospect.  The Tories gained the Lib Dem seat in 2004 and have not come close to losing since; at the 2012 poll the Lib Dems fell behind Labour here for the first time this century.  The local county division (Waterloo and Stakes North) is also safely Conservative but UKIP had a decent second-place vote in May's county elections.

Four new candidates will be finally facing their Waterloo in this by-election.  Peter Wade defends for the Conservatives; he is up against Anthony Berry for Labour, the Lib Dems' David Crichton (chairman of the Waterlooville Community Forum) and UKIP's Gary Kerrin (from Hayling Island).

Parliamentary constituency: Meon Valley
Hampshire county council division: Waterloo and Stakes North
ONS Travel to Work Area: Portsmouth

Anthony Berry (Lab)
David Crichton (LD)
Gary Kerrin (UKIP)
Peter Wade (C)

May 2012 result C 1334 Lab 524 LD 356
May 2011 result C 2216 LD 440 Grn 259
May 2010 result C 2922 LD 1646 Lab 466 Grn 205
May 2008 result C 1808 LD 497 Lab 271
May 2007 result C 1861 LD 471 Lab 238
May 2006 result C 1683 LD 525 Lab 308
June 2004 result C 1661 LD 626 Lab 306 Grn 244
Nov 2003 by-election C 1083 LD 401 Lab 169
May 2003 result C 1411 LD 623
May 2002 result 2C/1LD unopposed


BOVEY
Teignbridge District Council, Devon; caused by the resignation of Independent councillor Fernley Holmes, who is retiring after forty years' service on the council.  Holmes was one of the original Teignbridge councillors of 1973 and had served continuously since then.  Although he was sitting as an independent at the time of his retirement he was most recently re-elected as a Conservative.

Bovey Tracey: Fore Street
  © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse
under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
A market town since ancient times, the "Gateway to the Moor" is named after the Tracey family, lords of the manor following the Norman conquest.  Probably the most important part of the town's history is the Civil War battle of Bovey Heath in January 1646, a decisive Roundhead victory.  The Heath is no longer what it was in 1646 thanks to opencast ball clay mining and the expansion of the village of Heathfield off the A38, the main road through South Devon.  Heathfield and Bovey Tracey form the main population centres in Bovey ward, which also includes the parish of Lustleigh, further up the Bovey valley within the Dartmoor National Park.

Since 2003 the Conservatives have held at least two of the ward's three district council seats.  In 2003 the third seat was held by Holmes himself, who was not opposed by the Tories and topped the poll.  Holmes stood under the Conservative banner in 2007 but the Tories failed to capitalise as the third seat was won by the Lib Dems' Sally Morgan, the local county councillor unil 2009, who topped the poll in a rather close result.  Morgan lost her seat to the Tories in 2011, who then had a clean sweep of the ward's three councillors until Holmes went off and became Independent again.  Another Tory district councillor for the ward, George Gribble, was easily re-elected for the Bovey Tracey Rural county council division this May with UKIP a distant second.

There is no independent candidate in the by-election so the seat us up for grabs.  The Conservatives have selected Bovey Tracey town councillor Avril Kerswell.  The Lib Dems' Charlie West is standing here after contesting the neighbouring Haytor ward in 2011.  Regular Labour candidate Lisa Robillard West is the only candidate from 2011 to try again, while UKIP have selected their county council candidate from May, Bruce Meechan.  All four candidates are from Bovey Tracey.

Parliamentary constituency: Central Devon
Devon county council division: Bovey Tracey Rural
ONS Travel to Work Area: Exeter and Newton Abbot

Avril Kerswell (C)
Bruce Meechan (UKIP)
Lisa Robillard Webb (Lab)
Charlie West (LD)

May 2011 result C 1682/1493/1452 LD 1131/897/843 Ind 483 Grn 348 Lab 330/303/298 UKIP 300
May 2007 result LD 1554/1302/1301 C 1466/1457/1190
May 2003 result Ind 1570 C 1402/1195 Lab 640


NORTH WALSHAM EAST
Norfolk County Council; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Ed Foss, after just three months in office, due to a change in work commitments.

North Walsham
  © Copyright Janet Tench and licensed for
reuse under this 
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Off to deepest darkest Norfolk we go.  North Walsham is the largest town in inland North Norfolk with a population of around 12,000.  It became a very prosperous textile town in mediaeval times and much of that wealth went into the local church: the fourteenth-century St Nicholas North Walsham is one of the largest parish churches in the UK, even allowing for the fact that its tower is still in a ruined state after collapsing in the eighteenth century.  Another event of significance here in the fourteenth century was the Battle of North Walsham, the last major action in the Peasant's Revolt of 1381.  Since mediaeval times North Walsham is most famous for its association with Horatio Nelson, who was educated at the town's Paston Grammar School until the age of 12.

North Walsham itself provides four-fifths of the electorate in this county division, with the other fifth contained in five parishes (Dilham, Honing, Witton, Walcott and Happisburgh) collected into the deeply rural Happisburgh ward, named after a coastal village but including a signifcant inland area, part of which lies within the Broads National Park.

This is a strongly Lib Dem area, which until May this year was the division of the Lib Dems' county council group leader.  Even in May it was safe; although the Lib Dems only polled 35% of the vote they were 12 points ahead of UKIP with Labour third and the Tories falling from second place to fourth.  The Lib Dems have held all five district council seats in the division for some years, although the most recent district election in 2011 (in which they polled almost 80% in Happisburgh) is not easily comparable as there were no Conservative candidates in any of the wards covered by the division.

Defending for the Lib Dems is Eric Seward, district councillor for North Walsham North ward.  Lynette Comber, from Bodham near Sheringham, tries again for UKIP after her second-place finish in May.  The Labour candidate is Stephen Burke from Happisburgh, co-chairman of the charity Grandparents Plus.  The Tories hope to bounce back with the selection of the deputy leader of North Norfolk district council Rhodri Oliver, who is still in his early twenties; he is a ward councillor in Sheringham.  North Walsham-based Paul Oakes tries again for the Green Party after finishing last in May, and Graham Jones, from Antingham on the road to Cromer, stands as an independent.

Parliamentary constituency: North Norfolk
ONS Travel to Work Area: Cromer and Sheringham

Stephen Burke (Lab)
Lynette Comber (UKIP)
Graham Jones (Ind)
Paul Oakes (Grn)
Rhodri Oliver (C)
Eric Seward (LD)

May 2013 result LD 1068 UKIP 705 Lab 645 C 500 Grn 124
June 2009 result LD 1909 C 880 UKIP 464 Grn 201 Lab 189
May 2005 result LD 2915 C 1883 Lab 933 EDP 220


LOUGHBOROUGH HASTINGS and SHEPSHED WEST
Charnwood District Council, Leicestershire; caused respectively by the resignation of Labour councillor Jitu Choudhury and the death of Conservative councillor Bernard Burr at the age of 82.  Burr was a veteran of local government who was first elected in 1966 to the former Shepshed Urban District Council and had served on and off on Charnwood council since 1987, including as Mayor of Charnwood in 2011/2; a London native, he came to Shepshed to work for the fashion house Jaeger after working in the motor industry and as a semi-professional footballer.

Signalbox on the Great Central
Railway at Loughborough

  © Copyright Stefan Czapski and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Charnwood is having a rash of by-elections at the moment: there were two in September, and here are two more.  We start off alphabetically in Loughborough Hastings, which is Loughborough's eastern ward, including part of the town centre and based around the preserved Great Central Railway station.  This is a generally low-lying area and more than half of the ward is left empty as flood plain.  Shepshed, on the other hand, is an independent town west of Loughborough on the opposite side of the M1 motorway.

Shepshed West is a key marginal ward on the council.  In the 2011 election the Conservatives did well to hold their two seats with majorities of 66 and 26, after gaining the ward from Labour in 2007 with majorities of 96 and 51.  Loughborough Hastings, by contrast, is safe Labour; at the 2011 election Labour beat the Tories here 66-34 in a straight fight.  May's county council elections had similar results in the two divisions concerned, Labour easily holding Loughborough Hastings and the Tories narrowly holding Shepshed.

The Shepshed West poll is contested only by the three main parties, all of whom have selected candidates who are Shepshed town councillors.  Joan Tassell defends for the Conservatives, Jane Lennie challenges for Labour and Diane Horn for the Liberal Democrats.

For the Loughborough Hastings by-election Labour's defending candidate is Sarah Maynard Smith, who fought her home division (Rothley and Mountsorrel) in May's county council elections.  Regular Conservative candidate Judith Spence (from Barrow upon Soar, where she is a parish councillor) tries again.  The Lib Dems have selected Simon Atkins, UKIP have gone for Quorn-based Andy McWilliam who performed well at a September by-election in another Loughborough ward, and Kevan Stafford stands for the British Democratic Party, a new far-right movement led by former BNP MEP Andrew Brons.

Loughborough Hastings
Parliamentary constituency: Loughborough
Leicestershire county council division: Loughborough East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Leicester

Simon Atkins (LD)
Sarah Maynard Smith (Lab)
Andy McWilliam (UKIP)
Judith Spence (C)
Kevan Stafford (British Democratic Party)

May 2011 result Lab 1163/1104 C 612/492
May 2007 result Lab 799/769 C 529/507
May 2003 result Lab 836/693 LD 333 C 272

Shepshed West
Parliamentary constituency: Loughborough
Leicestershire county council division: Shepshed
ONS Travel to Work Area: Leicester

Diane Horn (LD)
Jane Lennie (Lab)
Joan Tassell (C)

May 2011 result C 1000/960 Lab 934/801 LD 481/396
May 2007 result C 722/677 Lab 626/560 BNP 540 LD 522/411
May 2003 result Lab 601/600 C 507/422 LD 239/179


UPTON
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, Merseyside; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Sylvia Hodrien due to poor health.

The Stonehouse, Ford Road, Upton Village
  © Copyright El Pollock and licensed for reuse
under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
In the geographic centre of the Wirral, Upton these days is essentially that bit of Birkenhead which lies to the west of the M53 motorway.  During Victorian times Upton became associated with the shipping magnate William Inman, owner of the Inman Line, who lived here.  The Upton ward includes Woodchurch, essentially a large post-war council estate built by Birkenhead Corporation, with employment provided by a factory which made spark plugs - this closed in 2006.

This combination of relatively middle-class suburbia (Liverpool city centre is just a quarter of an hour away via the M53 motorway and Wallasey Tunnel) and more working-class social housing makes for a classic key marginal where swings are low.  Add to that its presence in a key marginal parliamentary seat (Wirral West) and you have a hard-fought area.  Despite some close results in the Brown era, Labour have always had the edge over the Tories in this ward; it took the Labour nadir of 2008 for the Conservatives to win, and that win was by only four votes.  Labour convincingly regained the Tory seat at the 2012 election.

Labour have selected a young candidate, Matthew Patrick, to defend the by-election.  The Conservative candidate is Geoffrey Gubb, who fought this ward in 2011 and since then has stood for Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner.  Also standing are Hoylake-based Jim McGinley for the Green Party and the Lib Dems' Alan Davies, from Prenton.

Parliamentary constituency: Wirral West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wirral and Ellesmere Port

Alan Davies (LD)
Geoffrey Gubb (C)
Jim McGinley (Grn)
Matthew Patrick (Lab)

May 2012 result Lab 2504 C 948 UKIP 381 Grn 205 LD 164
May 2011 result Lab 2850 C 1495 LD 226 UKIP 221 Grn 158
May 2010 result Lab 3827 C 2143 LD 1370 Grn 286
May 2008 result C 1861 Lab 1857 LD 451 Grn 256
May 2007 result Lab 1931 C 1734 LD 575 Grn 244
May 2006 result Lab 1716 C 1424 LD 991 Grn 262
June 2004 result Lab 2140/2065/1829 C 1300/1261/1160 LD 1086/945/903 Grn 396


WINSTANLEY
Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, Greater Manchester; caused by the death of Labour councillor Rona Winkworth.  Chair of governors at Winstanley primary school, Winkworth had served as Mayor of Wigan in 2008/9.

Cottages on Pemberton Road Winstanley
  © Copyright Raymond Knapman and licensed for
reuse under this 
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This is one of those small towns which characterise the Wigan metropolitan borough.  These days Winstanley is essentially a residential and commuter area, just south-west of Wigan on the road to St Helens.

Winstanley was one of the strong areas for the Community Action Party, essentially a group of anti-Labour independents led by the Franzen family, which had some strength in Wigan during the Blair and Brown years.  It was one of only two wards won by Community Action in 2008, the last time that party won any seats.  When the current ward boundaries were introduced in 2004 Community Action and Labour split the three seats in Winstanley 2-1, and Labour easily gained the Community Action seats here in 2010 and 2012.

Marie Morgan is the defending Labour candidate for the ward; a customer service worker for RBS in Wigan, she is the wife of Clive Morgan, one of the two remaining councillors for the ward.  Stan Barnes, the Community Action councillor who lost his seat in 2012, wants it back.  Steven Heyes is the Green candidate and, in this week's second example of nominative determinism, the Conservatives have selected former Wigan councillor Michael Winstanley for Winstanley; he is an NHS analyst from Ashton-in-Makerfield and was the Tory candidate for Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner.  Also standing are independent candidate David Bowker, Andrew Collinson for UKIP and John Skipworth for the Liberal Democrats, who are fighting this ward for the first time.

Parliamentary constituency: Makerfield
ONS Travel to Work Area: Warrington and Wigan

Stan Barnes (CA)
David Bowker (Ind)
Andrew Collinson (UKIP)
Steven Heyes (Grn)
Maria Morgan (Lab)
John Skipworth (LD)
Michael Winstanley (C)

May 2012 result Lab 1216 CA 798 Grn 237 C 234
May 2011 result Lab 1509 Ind 1066 C 552
May 2010 result Lab 2465 Ind 1279 C 852 CA 433 BNP 376 UKIP 261
May 2008 result CA 1226 Lab 869 C 508
May 2007 result Lab 1224 CA 1109 C 482
May 2006 result CA 1160 Lab 905 C 382 UKIP 215
June 2004 result CA 1810/1330/1299 Lab 1393/1000/993 C 525

Monday, 14 October 2013

By-Election Previews: 17 October 2013

Six by-elections will be held on 17th October.  In the north of England, the Conservatives and Lib Dems have rural seats to defend at opposite ends of Cumbria, while in the south of England the Lib Dems, Labour and the Conservatives defend seats in Luton, Thurrock and Sussex respectively.  On the Welsh Elections blog Labour are on the defensive in a Port Talbot by-election with several bizarre features.

DALSTON

Carlisle City Council, Cumbria; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Nicola Clarke who is moving away from the area to be closer to her family.


The Square at Dalston
  © Copyright John Holmes and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
This is one of Carlisle's rural wards, covering the parishes of Dalston, Cummersdale and St Cuthbert Without immediately to the south of Carlisle.  Dalston, the first stop out of Carlisle on the Cumbrian Coast railway line, is the largest population centre in the ward and has a decent amount of industry, with a NestlĂ© factory making powdered milk and a BP fuel depot.  The Dalston parish covers a wide area including the hamlets of Gaitsgill and Raughton Head further up the Caldew valley.  Cummersdale is a small Carlisle dormitory village, while the St Cuthbert Without parish runs along the A6 and West Coast Main Line to the south of Carlisle, including the villages of Wreay, Blackwell and Durdar together with some Carlisle overspill.  Possibly the main reason to visit the ward is Carlisle Racecourse, which is located at Blackwell.

Since 2004 Dalston's three seats have been split between the Tories and Lib Dems, the Conservatives finding themselves unable to unseat Lib Dem councillor Trevor Allison, who has seen his majority increase from one vote at the 2004 election to 552 at the most recent poll in 2012.  A second Lib Dem councillor was elected in 2006 but the Conservatives recovered that seat in 2010, and Nicola Clarke was re-elected in 2011 just as comfortably as Allison was the following year.  The ward is split between two Cumbria county council divsions: at the last county elections in May Allison won the Dalston division with a seven-point lead over the Tories, while in Wetheral division (which includes the St Cuthbert Without parish) the Tories won with UKIP second.

Make of that what you will.  Carlisle-based Michael Randall will try to defend the seat for the Conservatives, while the Lib Dems have selected Dalston resident Michael Gee.  The Labour candidate is Ruth Alcroft, from the village of Aglionby east of Carlisle, while UKIP's nominee is Robert Dickinson, who stood in May's county election in Dalston.  The Greens' James Tucker completes the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: Carlisle
Cumbria county council division: Dalston (Dalston and Cummersdale parishes), Wetheral (St Cuthbert Without parish)
ONS Travel to Work area: Carlisle

Ruth Alcroft (Lab)
Robert Dickinson (UKIP)
Michael Gee (LD)
Michael Randall (C)
James Tucker (Grn)

May 2012 result LD 1033 C 481 Lab 305 UKIP 174
May 2011 result C 1108 LD 500 Lab 478 UKIP 170
May 2010 result C 1715 LD 1241 Lab 658
May 2008 result LD 1151 C 928 Lab 216
May 2007 result C 1037 LD 598 Lab 319
May 2006 result LD 891 C 874 Lab 246
June 2004 result LD 1048 C 1047 Lab 310
May 2003 result C 780 LD 654 Lab 281
May 2002 result C 766 LD 537 Lab 281


LEVENS

South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Mary Orr on medical advice.
"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers
Little we see in Nature that it ours
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; 
For this, for everything, we are out of tune; 
It moves us not. --- Great God!  I'd rather be 
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; 
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."

Wordsworth composed those words while wandering through the marshes around the Westmorland village of Heversham, at the head of Morecambe Bay on the Kent estuary.  Heversham, with its twelfth-century church on an eighth-century site, is the southernmost village in the Levens ward, which fills the space between Kendal and Morecambe Bay.  Levens itself lies at the centre of the ward and is known for the Elizabethan manor house of Levens Hall with its fantastical topiary garden.  Levens Hall is still in private hands, but the ward's other stately home, Sizergh Castle in the Helsington parish at the nothern end of the ward, is now in the care of the National Trust although still home to the Strickland family.  The Stricklands were were major landowners in Westmorland and their name is commemorated electorally in the name of one of Kendal's wards.

The local parliamentary constituency, Westmorland and Lonsdale, is now one of the safest constituencies for the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron having increased his majority to enormous proportions at the 2010 election thanks to the substantial Labour vote in Kendal voting tactially Lib Dem almost en bloc.  Levens ward, however, was voting strongly Liberal Democrat long before Farron got into Parliament, and if anything has been swinging towards the Conservatives over the last decade, although it has not yet achieved marginal status.  Mary Orr was elected for the ward in a May 2011 by-election following the death of the previous councillor, and re-elected for a full term in 2012, beating the Conservative candidate 56-40 (the Greens were the only other party to stand).  The ward is split between two county council divisions (Lower Kentdale and Lyth Valley), both of which voted Conservative in May's county election very comfortably.

This by-election is a straight fight.  In the yellow corner is Annie Rawlinson, a businesswoman from Levens who ran the 2013 London Marathon in aid of the Samaritans.  In the blue corner is the Tories' 2012 candidate for the ward, Brian Rendell from Leasgill in Heversham parish.  Seconds out!

Parliamentary constituency: Westmorland and Lonsdale
Cumbria county council division: Lyth Valley (Helsington and Levens parishes), Lower Kentdale (Heversham parish)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Kendal

Annie Rawlinson (LD)
Brian Rendell (C)

May 2012 result LD 635 C 458 Grn 45
May 2011 by-election LD 667 C 472 Lab 58
May 2008 result LD 737 C 412


BARNFIELD

Luton Council, Bedfordshire; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Pantling to take up a new career which is incompatible with his remaining a councillor.


Luton: Fairford Avenue
  © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
North-eastern Luton this, along the A6 to Bedford and possibly best known for Barnfield College, Bedfordshire's largest FE college.  Politically this was a safe Lib Dem ward during the last Labour government with the Conservatives running second, but in 2011 Labour came from fourth place to split the ward's two seats.  Pantling was top of the poll 96 votes ahead of his running mate, who was beaten by the leading Labour candidate by just 14 votes.  The Tories, who always poll around 600-700 votes here, fell to third place but the lead Conservative candidate still finished in front of the second Labour candidate.

So a tough fight is in prospect where all three parties will fancy their chances.  Clive Mead, a former councillor for Challney ward who lost his seat in the 2011 election, defends the Lib Dem seat.  Francis Steer stands for the Labour Party and the Tories have selected local chartered account Geoff Simons.  Completing the ballot paper is the Greens' Simon Hall.

Parliamentary constituency: Luton North
ONS Travel to Work Area: Luton and Watford

Simon Hall (Grn)
Clive Mead (LD)
Geoff Simons (C)
Francis Steer (Lab)

May 2011 result LD 904/808 Lab 822/679 C 691/657 Grn 171
May 2007 result LD 1074/1050 C 665/639 Ind 501 Lab 288/269 UKIP 137 Grn 124
May 2003 result LD 1001/887 C 698/614 Lab 285/261


STIFFORD CLAYS

Thurrock Council, Essex; caused by the death of Labour councillor Diana Hale at the age of 66.  Hale had served as a Thurrock councillor from 1988 to 1997, before being forced to resign to become principal of Thurrock Adult Community College; she returned to the council in 2007.


Houses on Stifford Clays Road
  © Copyright Robin Webster and licensed for
reuse under this 
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This is a residential area at the north end of Grays, off the A13 dual carriageway, about which I have very little to say.  So we'll move straight on to discussion of the ward's politics, which are more interesting.  This ward was a key marginal on Thurrock council during the tail end of the last Labour government: the Conservatives won the ward's two seats at the 2004 election (when the current boundaries were introduced) with majorities of 127 and 95 over Labour and held off Labour in 2006 by 34 votes.  Labour gained one of the Conservative seats in 2007 by 130 votes, in an election which saw a very high third-place BNP vote of 24%, and followed up in 2010 by gaining the second seat with a majority of 76.  The formation of the Coalition greatly reduced the area's Conservative vote and Labour's majority increased to 354 at the most recent election in this ward in 2011, UKIP finishing close behind the Conservatives in third place.

Labour's current majority control of Thurrock Council will be on the line in this contest with them currently holding 24 seats to the Conservatives' 21 and three independents, with the vacant seat holding the balance of power.

Defending for Labour is Sue Shinnick, an outsourced council administrator.  The Conservatives have selected former councillor and Kent county council officer Danny Nicklen, who still lives in his former ward in Stanford-le-Hope.  UKIP's candidate Clive Broad will hope to improve on the 24% and third place he achieved here in 2011.  The ballot paper is completed by Liberal Democrat candidate Ken Mulroue.

Parliamentary constituency: Thurrock
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Clive Broad (UKIP)
Ken Mulroue (LD)
Danny Nicklen (C)
Susan Shinnick (Lab)

May 2011 result Lab 877 C 523 UKIP 475 LD 68
May 2010 result Lab 1184 C 1108 UKIP 642 BNP 249
May 2007 result Lab 762 C 632 BNP 435
May 2006 result C 829 Lab 795 LD 296
June 2004 result C 788/756 Lab 661/645


WESTBOURNE

Chichester District Council, West Sussex; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Maureen Elliott.


The Square, Westbourne
  © Copyright Simon Carey and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
For our final by-election this week we travel to the most westerly village in Sussex, hard up against the River Ems which forms the border with Hampshire.  This village is aptly named Westbourne, and its parish has the same boundaries as the Westbourne ward of Chichester district.  Westbourne's claim to fame is that the churchyard has England's oldest yew avenue.  Part of the parish (including the hamlet of Aldsworth) lies within the South Downs National Park.

To describe Chichester politics I can do little better than quote Anthony Wells, who stated in his Almanac of British Poltiics that even once the revolution comes the Chichester Workers' Soviet would be Conservative.  Thus are Westbourne politics; since the turn of the century the closest the Tories have come to losing the ward was at the most recent election in 2011, when they beat a Liberal Democrat candidate 62-38.  However, local politics became interesting this year when UKIP gained the local county division (Bourne) from the Conservatives by 83 votes.

What effect will this have on the by-election?  Hoping "not a lot" is the defeated county councillor from May, Mark Dunn, who is the Conservative candidate for the ward by-election; he is from the village of Stoughton, in the South Downs to the north-east.  Southbourne parish councillor, writer and historian Philip MacDougall is the Liberal Democrat candidate.  UKIP's candidate is Alicia Denne, from Bosham on Chichester Harbour.  Also standing in the by-election are former Labour PPC Andrew Emerson for a new far-right outfit called Patria, and Green Party nominee Thomas French.

Parliamentary constituency: Chichester
ONS Travel to Work Area: Chichester and Bognor Regis
West Sussex county council division: Bourne

Alicia Denne (UKIP)
Mark Dunn (C)
Andrew Emerson (Patria)
Thomas French (Grn)
Philip MacDougall (LD)

May 2011 result C 515 LD 315
May 2007 result C 445 LD 172
May 2003 result C 391 Lab 122 UKIP 101



Thursday, 10 October 2013

By-Elections Preview: 10 October 2013

After four by-elections in the South of England last week, for the second week of October it's the turn of the North with eight by-elections, none of them further south than Staffordshire.  The Tories will try to hold that Staffordshire seat together with a marginal North Yorkshire county council division and a seat in polarised West Lancashire.  In fact there is a distinct Lancashire bias this week with Labour having two seats up for election within the M60 Manchester orbital motorway, together with a seat on the wrong side of the Pennines in Barnsley.  The Tories and Labour also have a seat each to defend in Scotland.


ANCOATS AND CLAYTON

Manchester City Council; caused by the resignation of the deputy leader of the council, Labour councillor Jim Battle, in order to become deputy police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester.

Ancoats: one of the bywords for the Industrial Revolution.  Immediately to the north-east of Manchester city centre, Ancoats was the world's first industrial suburb.  The development of the Rochdale Canal and the area's proximity to Manchester led to the building of an enormous number of cotton mills and other industrial works (foundries, glass, aeroplanes).  All these required people to man them, and they came in their thousands, particularly from Ireland and Italy; the 1851 census found Ancoats having a greater population than Bury and Blackburn, and almost half of the area's men had been born in Ireland.  The last industry to move in here was newspaper printing in 1939, with the Daily Express opening a printing works in a building which still looks futuristic today.

But by 1939 Ancoats was already in decline as its industry started to die off, and from the 1960s onwards the terraces which dominated the area, and had turned into slums, were cleared.  The closure of the newspaper works in 1989 sparked the first attempts at regeneration, but these were initially frustrated by, of all things, Manchester's bids for the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games which led to speculators buying property in the area and then, when the bids came to naught, leaving it to rot.  Nonetheless it wasn't all a failure: the Manchester Velodrome was built for the bids and was the UK's only Olympic-standard velodrome until London 2012, and the work behind those bids eventually came to fruition with the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which led to the development of the City of Manchester Stadium (now home to Manchester City football club) and the associated "Sportcity" development. 

Sportcity, the Velodrome and Philips Park (Manchester's first public park) effectively cut off Ancoats from the eastern suburb of Clayton on the Ashton New Road, another area being redeveloped; the new Metrolink line to Droylsden and (eventually) Ashton-under-Lyne runs along the Ashton New Road.

This is, of course, a strongly Labour ward and it's now more than three years since anybody other than Labour won a ward anywhere in the city of Manchester.  There was some Liberal Democrat activism around the turn of the century in the old Beswick and Clayton ward, and the Lib Dems came reasonably close to Labour in the 2004 and 2006 elections, but their vote has fallen away since then, first gradually, then off a cliff after the Coalition was formed.  At the most recent election in 2012 Labour polled 74% of the vote here, the Greens being best of the rest on just 9%.

So Labour candidate Donna Ludford shouldn't have too much to worry about; she is a GMB member from Moston who was prominent in the campaign to save Miles Platting swimming pool from closure.  Her opposition is Pete Birkinshaw, the regular Green Party candidate for the ward, from central Manchester; Tory candidate Nicholas Savage, who works in e-learning at the University of Manchester and fought his home Fallowfield ward last year; the Lib Dems' John Bridges, a former city councillor from Levenshulme; the Pirate Party UK leader Loz Kaye, standing in his home ward; the BNP's Gareth Black, from central Manchester; and UKIP's Adrienne Shaw, who gives an address all the way out in Denton.

Parliamentary constituency: Manchester Central
ONS Travel to Work Area: Manchester

Pete Birkinshaw (Grn)
Gareth Black (BNP)
John Bridges (LD)
Loz Kaye (Pirate)
Donna Ludford (Lab)
Nicholas Savage (C)
Adrienne Shaw (UKIP)

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


WEASTE AND SEEDLEY

Salford City Council; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Thomas Murphy.

Have we been here before?  Yes we have.  This is the second by-election in Weaste and Seedley since May.

When your columnist was nobbut a lad, his mum worked as a school secretary at Hope High School on Eccles Old Road, just up the hill from Hope Hospital, where many of Salford's residents begin and end their days.  Times have changed since then: Hope Hospital has been renamed Salford Royal Hospital and comprehensively redeveloped, while Hope High - always a challenging school to run because of the nature of the local kids - became an academy and moved last year to a new site behind the shiny new BBC buildings at MediaCityUK, on the banks of the Ship Canal. 

MediaCity is just outside the south-east corner of Weaste and Seedley ward, and beyond MediaCity is the point where there is still some industry on the banks of the Ship Canal.  Going north from the canal, we first meet the Eccles New Road with its tramline (Ladywell, Weaste and Langworthy stops are all within the ward boundary), then the roaring chasm that contains the Liverpool and Manchester railway and the M602 motorway.  Immediately to the north of the motorway the main residential part of the ward begins, still dominated by the sort of Coronation Street-like terraced housing that is becoming more and more scarce within the M60.  It can't be denied that this is the model of a deprived inner-city ward, but there are some relatively nice bits, particularly once you get north of Eccles Old Road.  There are far more deprived wards in Salford than this.

During the Blair and Brown years Weaste and Seedley ward was a consistently close fight between the Liberal Democrats and Labour, the Lib Dems finally breaking through with new ward boundaries in 2004 to take the ward's three seats off Labour.  Labour had to wait until 2010 to get the ward back, and since then it has been plain sailing for Labour as the formation of the Coalition led to the disintegration of the Lib Dem vote in Salford.  It won't have helped the Lib Dems that their former ward councillor Geoff Ainsworth ran for re-election in 2011 as an Independent, beating the official Lib Dem candidate into third place.  The last by-election, held on 20th June, introduced another twist into the tale with UKIP finishing a strong second to Labour.

Defending for Labour this time is Stephen Hesling, an advice worker who is Weaste born and bred.  Further education teacher Glyn Wright, the UKIP candidate, is one of five candidates reselected after fighting the June by-election, along with Adam Kennaugh (Conservative, hospital consultant), Kay Pollitt (BNP), Matt Simpson (independent) and Terry Simmons (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition).  The only party other than Labour to have changed their candidate is the Greens, who have selected local businessman Andrew Olsen.  After an appalling performance in the June by-election (finishing seventh out of nine candidates with just 3.3%) the Lib Dems have thrown in the towel.

Parliamentary constituency: Salford and Eccles
ONS Travel to Work Area: Manchester

Stephen Hesling (Lab)
Adam Kennaugh (C)
Andrew Olsen (Grn)
Kay Pollitt (BNP)
Terry Simmons (TUSC)
Matt Simpson (Ind)
Glyn Wright (UKIP)

June 2013 by-election Lab 785 UKIP 401 C 260 Grn 80 BNP 74 Ind 64 LD 58 TUSC 30 Ind 15
May 2012 result Lab 1240 LD 424 C 287 BNP 197 CA 119
May 2011 result Lab 1333 Ind 439 LD 406 C 377 Grn 222
May 2010 result Lab 1884 LD 1623 C 941
May 2008 result LD 1282 Lab 682 C 478
May 2007 result LD 1086 Lab 997 C 328
May 2006 result LD 1003 Lab 888 C 345
June 2004 result LD 1298/1264/1158 Lab 916/907/796 C 538


PARBOLD

West Lancashire Council; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Barbara Kean, who had served on the council since 2010.

For the third Lancashire by-election this week we travel north-west to Parbold, the point where the River Douglas breaks out of the Lancashire hills onto the wide flat plain of West Lancashire.  Parbold itself lies at the foot of Parbold Hill, a well-known viewpoint with wide views over Liverpool and beyond to the Welsh mountains.  This geographical position meant that the village was a natural choice to build the Leeds and Liverpool Canal through on its way to Wigan; while the canal enabled local coal and sandstone to be exported, Parbold really started to grow with the coming of the railways; the village is a calling point on the line from Manchester and Wigan to Southport and as a result Parbold grew into a commuter village.

The modern Parbold ward also includes the parishes of Dalton to the south and Hilldale and Bispham to the north.  Its commuter profile means that it is definitely on the Conservative side of the hilariously polarised West Lancashire council, nearly all of whose wards are either incredibly Tory (in the rural areas) or incredibly Labour (in Skelmersdale) with very few marginal areas (chiefly in Ormskirk and Burscough).  The Conservative vote in Parbold peaked at 78% in 2007, in a straight fight with Labour, and the most recent district result in 2011 the Tories still beat Labour 68-32.  The local county council division (confusingly called West Lancashire East) has a similar elctoral profile.

So the new Conservative candidate should have little to worry about.  He is David Whittington, a Hilldale parish councillor from the village of Mawdesley to the north.  The Labour candidate is Parbold resident Clare Gillard, and UKIP are fighting the ward for the first time in the shape of Damon Noone, from Skem.

Parliamentary constituency: West Lancashire
Lancashire county council division: West Lancashire East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Warrington and Wigan

Clare Gillard (Lab)
Damon Noone (UKIP)
David Whittington (C)

May 2011 result C 1062 Lab 502
May 2010 result C 1477 Lab 864
May 2007 result C 992 Lab 277
May 2006 result C 980 Lab 335
May 2003 result C 749 Ind 341 Lab 183
May 2002 result C 935/920 Lab 305


ROYSTON

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, South Yorkshire; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Graham Kyte.

Over to the wrong side of the Pennines we go.  Royston, a few miles north of Barnsley, is one of the ex-pit villages that dominate the South Yorkshire coalfield.  Although the mine has gone, coal is still part of the village's economy, with a coke works here processing coal from elsewhere.  Obviously this is a very safe Labour ward and the party polled 67% at the most recent election in 2012.  Since 2011 UKIP have been best of the rest here; they polled 14% at the 2012 election.

Defending for Labour is Caroline Makinson, while UKIP have re-selected James Johnson who fought the 2012 election here.  Paul Buckley stands for the Conservatives, while English Democrat Justin Saxton and BNP candidate Mark Baker will dispute the nationalist vote.

Parliamentary constituency: Barnsley Central
ONS Travel to Work Area: Barnsley

Mark Baker (BNP)
Paul Buckley (C)
James Johnson (UKIP)
Caroline Makinson (Lab)
Justin Saxton (EDP)

May 2012 result Lab 1573 UKIP 322 Ind 248 C 117 EDP 73
May 2011 result Lab 1570 UKIP 450 C 244 LD 148 Soc Lab 114 BNP 113
May 2010 result Lab 2175 LD 1078 C 628 BNP 564 Barnsley Ind Group 274
May 2008 result Lab 1202 LD 513 BNP 392 C 263 Barnsley Ind Group 195
May 2007 result Lab 1115 LD 531 BNP 332 Barnsley Ind Group 299 C 215
May 2006 result Lab 959 Barnsley Ind Group 464 LD 437 BNP 393 C 197
June 2004 result Lab 1510/1345/1266 Ind 952 C 511 BNP 480


SOUTH SELBY

North Yorkshire County Council; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Margaret Hulme at the age of 81, while on a family holiday in Crete.  Cllr Hulme had represented South Selby since 1997 and had previously won a 1991 by-election in the former Selby Rural division.

This is a seriously misnamed division, as it actually consists of two separate areas to the east and south-east of Selby, cut off from each other by the River Ouse which does not have a crossing point here.  North of the Ouse is the Hemingbrough ward of Selby district, covering a series of villages on the Selby-Howden road between the Ouse and Derwent rivers: the Cliffe and Hemingbrough parishes and part of the Barlby with Osgodby parish.  South of the Ouse, between the Ouse and Aire rivers is Selby district's Camblesforth ward, a sparsely populated area but one which is very important for the UK's economy: this division includes the coal-fired Drax Power Station, Britain's single biggest producer of both electricity and carbon dioxide and the second-largest coal-fired plant in Europe.  This area is divided into the parishes of Camblesforth, Carlton, Drax, Long Drax and Newland.

The presence of Drax power station turns this ward from safe Tory into a key marginal with a history of close results: the Tories beat Labour 53-47 at the 2005 election (held simultaneously with the general election) and 40-34 at the 2013 election.  The two district wards vote pretty much as you would expect them to.  Camblesforth has split representation Conservative/Labour, while Hemingbrough always returns Conservative councillors but not always safely: the second Tory seat came under pressure at the 2011 election from independent Hemingbrough parish councillor David McSherry - who, to add spice, is a former Tory councillor for the ward and ex-husband of Tory ward councillor Kay McSherry, the present leader of Selby district council.

So, an interesting fight is in prospect.  Defending for the Conservatives is Mike Jordan who is a district councillor for his home ward of Sherburn in Elmet, about 20km away at the other end of the district.  Labour may be regretting their selection of their Camblesforth ward councillor Rod Price, from Carlton, after he was forced to apologise for tweeting during the campaign that his opponents were "a fascist, a crypto-fascist and an independent".  David McSherry is having another go at getting elected to the county council after polling 18% as an independent in May, while UKIP have selected their local branch chairman, Selby-based Colin Heath.

Parliamentary constituency: Selby and Ainsty
Selby district council wards: Camblesforth, Hemingbrough
ONS Travel to Work Area: York

Colin Heath (UKIP)
Mike Jordan (C)
David McSherry (Ind)
Rod Price (Lab)

May 2013 result C 740 Lab 633 Ind 336 Grn 131
June 2009 result C 1580 Lab 640
May 2005 result C 2129 Lab 1886


BREWOOD AND COVEN

South Staffordshire District Council; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Ivor Clay.
For our final English by-election of the week we travel south to Brewood and Coven in Staffordshire.  Brewood (pronounced Brood) is a Wolverhampton commuter village, located about six miles north of the city on the Shropshire Union Canal and with a hilariously long Wikipedia entry.  This ward covers about three-quarters of the parish of Brewood and Coven (a small village off the A449 Wolverhampton-Stafford road), lying south of the A5 Watling Street, generally west of the A449 and generally north of the M54 Telford motorway, and includes the Georgian stately home of Chillington Hall.

Recent district council elections in the ward have been Conservative versus Independent battles: the Conservatives have always held two of the three seats, but independent candidate Andy Ball took the third seat from the Tories at the 2007 election, topping the poll, before being defeated in his turn in 2011.  The local county division (Brewood) was safe Conservative in May with UKIP second.

Defending for the Conservatives is Brewood-based Wendy Sutton, wife of county councillor Mark Sutton.  The new independent candidate is parish councillor Moira Alden-Court, from Coven.  Also from Coven is the Labour candidate Lorna Jones, top of the two Labour candidates in 2011 who also fought the county seat in 2013, as did UKIP's Christopher Lenton, from Cheslyn Hay.

Parliamentary constituency: South Staffordshire
Staffordshire county council division: Brewood
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wolverhampton

Moira Alden-Court (Ind)
Lorna Jones (Lab)
Christopher Lenton (UKIP)
Wendy Sutton (C)

May 2011 result C 1369/1221/1193 Ind 941 Lab 765/661
May 2007 result Ind 1128 C 1018/992/989 Lab 514
May 2003 result C 1054/1034/960 Lab 762/619/385


Thursday, 3 October 2013

By-Election Previews: 3 October 2013

By-elections on 3rd October 2013:

ABBEYGATE

St. Edmundsbury District Council, Suffolk; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Charlotte Howard at the age of 68.  Howard, who worked at an opticians in Bury St. Edmunds, had served on the district council for less than three months.
Crescent House Angel Hill
  © Copyright Keith Evans and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
This is central Bury St. Edmunds, covering the city centre and most of the public buildings: the town hall, the cathedral and the Shirehall which once housed West Suffolk county council; however, despite the name, the Abbey lies just outside the ward boundary.

This is the ward's second by-election in five months, the first having come on county council election day in May after the resignation of one of the ward's Conservative councillors.  That by-election elected Charlotte Howard, whose death just a few months later has caused this by-election.  While the ward remained safe Conservative in May (the Tories have held the ward's two district council seats since taking the second seat off an Independent in 2007) there was a significant swing to the Green Party who have established themselves as a force in Suffolk politics.  On the same day the local county council division (Tower) re-elected Green county councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer for a second term in office, with the Conservatives losing the second seat in the county division to an independent.

Joanna Rayner hopes to take over as the second Conservative councillor for the ward; she is a manager at a housing association.  The new Green candidate is county councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer, hoping to get back on the district council after losing his seat in St Olaves ward in 2011.  Quentin Cornish stands for Labour, Chris Lale for the Liberal Democrats and Clive Reason is the ward's first UKIP candidate.

Parliamentary constituency: Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk county council division: Tower
ONS Travel to Work Area: Bury St Edmunds

Quentin Cornish (Lab)
Mark Ereira-Guyer (Grn)
Chris Lale (LD)
Joanna Rayner (C)
Clive Reason (UKIP)

May 2013 by-election C 562 Grn 399 Lab 154 LD 149
May 2011 result C 1007/744 Grn 448 LD 317 Lab 282/259
May 2007 result C 819/582 Ind 519 LD 348 Grn 309
May 2003 result C 982 Ind 666/386


CHAPEL ST. LEONARDS

East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire; caused by the resignation of Independent councillor Philip Leivers who has been charged with historic sex offences against a child.
The Church of St Leonard , Chapel St Leonards
  © Copyright Bill Henderson and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Five miles north of Skegness, Chapel St Leonards is a coastal retirement village whose economy is based on caravan park holidays and its long, wide, sandy beach.  The ward named after the village also includes the parishes of Anderby to the north and inland Hogsthorpe.

East Lindsey is a rather isolated area and one of the last remaining strongholds of the rural Independent councillor.  At the 2003 election both of Chapel St Leonards' councillors were independents, Leivers topping the poll and only Labour providing party opposition.  The Conservatives contested the ward in 2007 and took one of the two seats from a retiring Independent councillor, but narrowly lost their seat to another independent in 2011, Leivers topping the poll again with a large personal vote.  The local county division (Ingoldmells Rural) is safely Conservative.

Two independent candidates are vying to replace Cllr Leivers.  Richard Enderby is the chairman of Hogsthorpe parish council, while Mel Turton-Leivers (no relation to the resigned councillor) is the finance officer of Chapel St Leonards parish council and formerly ran a pub in the village.  The Tory candidate Kevin Sharpe, a Chapel St Leonards parish councillor, lost his district council seat in 2011 and wants it back.  The Labour candidate is Fiona Brown, from Chapel St Leonards, while UKIP candidate Giles Crust, from Skendleby near Spilsby, fought Ingoldmells Rural in the county council elections in May as an independent, polling 18% and coming last of the three candidates.

Parliamentary constituency: Louth and Horncastle
Lincolnshire county council division: Ingoldmells Rural
ONS Travel to Work Area: Skegness

Fiona Brown (Lab)
Giles Crust (UKIP)
Richard Enderby (Ind)
Kevin Sharpe (C)
Mel Turton-Leivers (Ind)

May 2011 result Ind 801/557 C 501/457 EDP 266
May 2007 result East Lindsey Ind Group 541/289 C 494/423 Ind 456/252/222
May 2003 result Ind 993/776/283 Lab 302/225


OAKFIELD

Aylesbury Vale District Council, Buckinghamshire; caused by the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Patrick at the age of 59.  A district councillor since 1999, he was the serving Mayor of Aylesbury in his capacity as a town councillor.
The Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal
  © Copyright Cathy Cox and licensed for reuse
under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
This ward is eastern Aylesbury, bisected by the Grand Union Canal and running between the A41 road to London and the A418 road to Leighton-Linslade.  A Liberal Democrat stronghold at the 2003 election, it has since swung to the Conservatives; while the Lib Dems still held both seats after the 2011 election, the majorities were only 44 and 6 votes.  You might think that would make the Conservatives the clear challengers, but the May county elections have muddied the waters; most of the ward is in the Aylesbury East county division, which was won by UKIP in May with 35% with the Conservatives second on 30% and the Lib Dems (who had held the area in 2009) third with 20% and Steve Patrick as their candidate.  A smaller part of the ward is in Aylesbury North which the Lib Dems held.  All this tells us is pretty much anything could happen here. 

Defending for the Liberal Democrats is Allison Harrison, the remaining Aylesbury town councillor for this ward after Steve Patrick's death.  Edward Sims, the Tory candidate for Aylesbury North in May, fights the by-election in the Conservative interest.  Roy McNickle is the Labour candidate; he fought Aylesbury East in May.  Independent candidate Patrick Martin is having his third go at getting elected to the district council from this ward, after polling respectably in 2011 (when he was a close runner-up in the town council election) and 2007.  Finally, UKIP's new county councillor Phil Gomm hopes to make it two wins at the ballot box in five months by standing for the district council.

Parliamentary constituency: Aylesbury
Buckinghamshire county council division: Aylesbury East (part), Aylesbury North (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Milton Keynes and Aylesbury

Phil Gomm (UKIP)
Allison Harrison (LD)
Patrick Martin (Ind)
Roy McNickle (Lab)
Edward Sims (C)

May 2011 result LD 475/437 C 431/419 Lab 336/246 Ind 288 UKIP 205/164
May 2007 result LD 626/581 C 418/412 Ind 301 UKIP 122
May 2003 result LD 711/675 C 229/222


TAUNTON HALCON

Taunton Deane District Council, Somerset; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Brooks, a former mayor of the district.
Houses, Hamilton Road, Taunton
  © Copyright Ken Grainger and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
This generally residential ward covers the area running east from Taunton town centre to the M5 motorway at junction 25.  Halcon is a very deprived area with high unemployment and crime levels, although Avon and Somerset Police have managed to significantly cut crime on the estate in recent years, with former teenage tearaways becoming volunteers.

Interestingly Taunton Halcon doesn't vote strongly Labour in the way of many deprived areas; while Labour do have seats on the district council their stronghold is in Wellington, a radical town since before the Industrial Revolution.  Instead the ward's residents vote strongly for the three Liberal Democrat candidates, although their majorities were sharply reduced at the 2011 election in which Brooks topped the poll, with single Conservative and Labour candidates all polling strongly.  The ward last went to the polls in May 2013 in which the county elections were combined with another district by-election: both the district by-election and the local county council division (Taunton East) saw Lib Dem holds with UKIP running a strong second.  (A small part of the ward is in the Taunton South division, which had a similar result.)

For the second district by-election in this ward in five months, the Liberal Democrats have selected Federica Smith, who was runner-up in the Taunton Killams and Mountfield ward in 2011.  UKIP's candidate this time round is constituency party chairman Dorothy Baker.  The Tories have gone for Marcus Palmer, who worked for many years at Agusta Westland helicopters in Yeovil and fought Comeytrowe ward in 2011.  Finally, the Labour candidate is community nurse Anna Lynch.

Parliamentary constituency: Taunton Deane
Somerset county council division: Taunton East (most), Taunton South (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Taunton

May 2013 by-election LD 457 UKIP 295 C 179 Lab 159 Grn 78
May 2011 result LD 694/539/529 C 475 Lab 420
May 2007 result LD 804/709/679 C 372/354/326 Lab 154