Wednesday, 22 January 2014

By-Election Preview: 23 January 2014

WEST LEIGH
Southend-on-Sea Council; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Gwen Horrigan for health reasons.

Evening sunshine over Marine Parade
  © Copyright Paul Collins and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Effectively a part of the South Essex conurbation, the town of Leigh-on-Sea merges seamlessly into Southend in the one direction and Hadleigh in the other.  Whereas Southend grew from very little to become a seaside resort in the Victorian era, Leigh-on-Sea has a long history as a fishing village with some boat-building.  Some fishing still goes on from the Old Town, but West Leigh is very much a residential ward with not much of a seafront; just off the shore here is the low-lying nature reserve of Two Tree Island.  The ward includes Leigh-on-Sea railway station, from which there are frequent trains to Southend and London.

Since at least 2002 West Leigh has been a safe Conservative ward with the Lib Dems in a strong second place; interestingly the Lib Dem vote has actually risen here since the Coalition was formed, although this may reflect more on the shrinking Conservative majority on Southend council, which will disappear altogether if this by-election is lost.

Eyes down then for this crucial by-election.  Georgina Phillips defends for the Conservatives, getting her chance at a winnable ward after two tilts at the neighbouring Leigh ward, which covers the old town of Leigh-on-Sea and consistently votes Lib Dem.  The Lib Dem challenger will again be Christopher Bailey who has fought the ward at every opportunty since 2010, as has the returning Labour candidate Jane Norman.  Completing the ballot paper is UKIP's Tino Callaghan; UKIP had some very good shares of the vote in Southend in 2012, but Callaghan's 12.5% in the neighbouring Belfairs ward wasn't one of them.

Parliamentary constituency: Southend West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Southend and Brentwood
Postcode district: SS9

Christopher Bailey (LD)
Tino Callaghan (UKIP)
Jane Norman (Lab)
Georgina Phillips (C)

May 2012 result C 1307 LD 803 Ind 278 Lab 240
May 2011 result C 1769 LD 1157 Lab 400 UKIP 214
May 2010 result C 2541 LD 2060 Lab 377 BNP 185 Grn 170 Ind 123
May 2008 result C 1673 LD 821 BNP 232 Lab 153
May 2007 result C 1626 LD 755 Grn 191 Lab 150
May 2006 double vacancy C 1562/1559 LD 983/874 Grn 428 Southend Party 344
June 2004 result C 1935 LD 896 Grn 213 Lab 200
May 2003 result C 1417 LD 821 Lab 118 Grn 114
May 2002 result C 1692 LD 875 Lab 196

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