Tuesday, 14 January 2014

By-Election Preview: 16 January 2014

Just the one by-election this week...

Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, Greater Manchester; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Ken Weston.  A Trafford councillor since 2000, Weston had served as Mayor of Trafford in 2010/11.

Canal Warehouse, Broadheath, Altrincham
  © Copyright Phil Champion and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Altringham, as it's pronounced.  The Broadheath ward is essentially the north-western corner of Altrincham, a residential and industrial area along the A56 Manchester Road and the Bridgewater Canal.  The ward is essentially everything in Altrincham north-west of the canal, together with the area around Deansgate Lane on the other side of the canal, plus a small part of Sale.  Greater Manchester residents of a certain age may recall trying to keep their balance on the Altrincham Ice Rink, which was located within this ward.

Although there is some Manchester commuting (Timperley tram stop lies on the eastern boundary of the ward), the presence of the largish industrial area means that this is Labour's best of the seven wards in Altrincham, and since the formation of the Coalition the ward has turned from a safe Tory area into a key marginal.  Ken Weston was rather lucky to be re-elected in 2011 with 43% to 40% for Labour (a majority of 122 votes), and Labour built on that good showing to gain the ward at the 2012 election by 46% to 39% for the Conservatives (265 votes).

Trafford council is one of only two Tory-controlled metropolitan boroughs (the other is Solihull) and their majority is tenuous enough that there is a good chance of no overall control, perhaps even Labour becoming the largest party, following the forthcoming May 2014 election.  A Labour gain in this by-election would make such a scenario that bit more likely, so this is an unusually crucial by-election.

Defending for the Tories is the long-serving councillor who lost her seat to Labour in 2012, local resident Brenda Houraghan.  Labour have selected secondary school maths teacher Helen Boyle, a Sale resident.  UKIP, who took third place off the Lib Dems in 2012, have nominated Ron George, who gives an address in Partington; the Green Party candidate is Joe Ryan from Sale; and Stretford-based Will Jones stands for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Altrincham and Sale West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Manchester
Postcode districts: M33, WA14, WA15

Helen Boyle (Lab)
Ron George (UKIP)
Brenda Houraghan (C)
Will Jones (LD)
Joe Ryan (Grn)

May 2012 result Lab 1662 C 1397 UKIP 221 Grn 156 LD 152
May 2011 result C 1879 Lab 1757 LD 307 UKIP 205 Grn 202
May 2010 result C 2569 Lab 1799 LD 1519 Grn 247
May 2008 result C 1681 Lab 836 LD 334 Grn 225
May 2007 result C 1530 Lab 834 LD 397 Grn 226
May 2006 result C 1392 Lab 725 LD 428 Grn 263
June 2004 result C 1905/1833/1686 Lab 1193/1081/968 LD 621

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