Thursday, 27 February 2014

By-Election Preview: 27 February 2014

West Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire; caused by the death of Conservative councillor William Parry at the age of 71.  Chairman of the district council in 2011/12, Parry had served on West Lindsey district council since 1998.

Scotter High Street
  © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Part two of a two-part series, here, this being the second Scotter ward by-election in two months.  This is the northwestern corner of Lincolnshire, a series of tiny villages to the north of Gainsborough.  Inland are the parishes of Scotter itself, Scotton, Northorpe and Laughton, while on the right bank of the River Trent can be found the parishes of East Ferry, Wildsworth, East Stockwith and Walkerith (one of the smallest parishes in the country with only 60 electors and an area just creeping over one square kilometre).  Those last two parishes form a sort of salient with only a very narrow neck of land connecting them to the rest of the ward.  In terms of population the ward is dominated by Scotter parish, which contains around 62% of the ward's electors.

Until the last by-election, held in the week before Christmas, the ward had been consistently won by the Conservatives over the last decade, despite pressure from the Lib Dems in the mid-Noughties.  The Tory majority was 131 votes in Scotter ward in 2004, before falling to zero at the 2007 ward election in which 1562 votes split 781 to the Conservative councillor Chris Underwood-Frost (whose recent death caused the December by-election) and 781 to his Lib Dem opponent, Underwood-Frost holding his seat thanks to the toss of a coin.  After coming so close, the Lib Dem challenge has since faded away; the runner-up spot at the most recent district election in Scotter in 2011 was taken by an Independent, while UKIP were second here in May's county council election.  In rather an upset, the by-election last December was won by an independent candidate, although this is more explicable when you consider that the three party candidates all lived some distance away from the ward; on the other hand a simultaneous by-election here to the county council was won by the Lib Dems, suggesting that the Conservative machine may be having some problems here.

Determined not to make the same mistake again, the Tories have selected a Scotter resident, bed & breakfast owner Pat Mewis who is involved with the local tourist board.  Her opposition is Keith Panter, a parish councillor in the village of Morton south of the ward, who is the Liberal Democrat candidate.  The by-election will be a straight fight between the two.

Parliamentary constituency: Gainsborough
Lincolnshire county council division: Scotter Rural
ONS Travel to Work Area: Scunthorpe
Postcode districts: DN17, DN21

Pat Mewis (C)
Keith Panter (LD)

December 2013 by-election Ind 529 C 219 LD 148 UKIP 138
May 2011 result C 1164/924 Ind 623 LD 332
May 2008 result C 945 LD 705
May 2007 result C 782 LD 781
June 2004 result C 850 LD 719
May 2003 result C 920 LD 319

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