Tuesday, 28 January 2014

By-Elections Preview: 30 January 2014

Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire; caused by the disqualification of Conservative councillor Michael Fryers Snr who failed to attend any meetings of the council in six months.

Purcell Avenue, Lichfield
  © Copyright Mick Malpass and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Places which sound nice aren't always entirely so.  Lichfield is a generally beautiful and well-preserved cathedral city in the Midlands, but the Chadsmead ward - a tract of postwar housing in the north-west of the city - includes Lichfield's most deprived census district.  And it votes like it too; this is one of Labour's strongest wards in the city.

At district level this ward has voted for all three main parties in the last eleven years; it returned a Tory and a Labour councillor in 2003 before the Conservatives gained the Labour seat at a by-election just before Christmas 2005.  In May 2007 the Lib Dems gained one of the Conservative seats, only to lose it back to the Tories in 2011.  The most recent city council elections, also held in 2011, saw the Tories win the ward's three seats, but a double by-election to the city council in September 2012 (caused by the resignations of Mike Fryers Snr and Jr) was won by the Lib Dems with Labour gaining the second seat up for election.  Chadsmead ward forms a quarter of the Lichfield City North county division, which was narrowly gained by Labour at the May 2013 county elections; given that the county division includes a safe Tory ward it's probable that Labour had a healthy lead here in May.

So, mixed messages there and this is a by-election in which anything could happen.  Defending for the Tories is Jon O'Hagan, who is involved in the Chadsmead Action Group.  The Lib Dem candidate is former district councillor Marion Bland who topped the poll in the 2012 city by-election.  Runner-up in that by-election was Labour's Caroline Wood, who stands in this by-election.  Completing the ballot paper is Bob Green, the UKIP candidate.

Parliamentary constituency: Lichfield
Staffordshire county council division: Lichfield City North
ONS Travel to Work Area: Walsall and Cannock
Postcode district: WS13

Marion Bland (LD)
Bob Green (UKIP)
Jon O'Hagan (C)
Caroline Wood (Lab)

May 2011 result C 416/385 LD 326/206 Lab 303/278
May 2007 result LD 407/366 C 373/368 Lab 181/171
Dec 2005 by-election C 192 Lab 181 LD 117
May 2003 result C 328/289 Lab 300/250 LD 100

Amber Valley Borough Council, Derbyshire; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Phil Hill due to work commitments.

Meadow Gardens, Heanor
  © Copyright Alan Murray-Rust and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Overlooking the Erewash valley on the Derbyshire side, Heanor is one of Derbyshire's small industrial towns, traditionally specialising in coal-mining and textiles.  With those industries now having declined to almost nothing the main local employer is a food factory which traditionally specialises in Christmas puddings.

Heanor East is one of those wards which holds the dubious distinction of having had a BNP local councillor.  That happened in 2008, when the BNP took advantage of what was developing into a marginal Labour/Tory ward to come through the middle and win with 36% of the vote (to 33% for the Tories and 31% for Labour).  That is the only time in the twenty-first century that Labour have lost Heanor East; the party fought off close Tory challenges in 2006 and 2010 and easily regained the BNP seat in 2012.

Defending for Labour is Sheila Oakes.  The Tories have selected Steven Grainger, a Heanor and Loscoe town councillor (although not for this ward).  The ballot paper is completed by the Lib Dems' Kate Smith, who gives an address some miles away in Crich.

Parliamentary constituency: Amber Valley
Derbyshire county council division: Greater Heanor
ONS Travel to Work Area: Nottingham
Postcode district: DE75

Steven Grainger (C)
Sheila Oakes (Lab)
Kate Smith (LD)

May 2012 result Lab 744 C 391 BNP 284 LD 69
May 2010 result Lab 1038 C 965 BNP 451 LD 440
May 2008 result BNP 537 C 472 Lab 454
May 2006 result Lab 567 C 468 LD 242
June 2004 result Lab 1147 C 619
May 2002 result Lab 548 C 272 Ind 129 LD 70

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