Wednesday, 2 April 2014

By-Election Preview: 3 April 2014

Just one by-election on 3rd April.

BLACKO AND HIGHERFORD
Pendle Borough Council, Lancashire; caused by the disqualification of Conservative councillor Shelagh Derwent who failed to attend any meetings of the council in six months.  Derwent has reportedly moved to Dorset to be near her family, and stood down from Lancashire County Council at the 2013 elections.

Gisburn Road, Blacko
  © Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
The village of Blacko can be found at the point where the towns in the Lancashire Calder valley end and the hills begin.  Blacko parish itself only has a population of around 600 and much of its area is moorland; a notable landmark is Stansfield or Blacko Tower on the hill above the village, which commands views across the Pendle district.  Although Blacko is a Lancashire village, the moorland behind Blacko Tower was originally part of Yorkshire (the detached part of Brogden parish) and didn't become part of Blacko parish until 1987.  At the bottom of the hill is the village of Higherford, a Barrowford suburb on the other side of Pendle Water and part of the Barrowford parish.  The two parts of the ward are linked together by the A682 Barrowford-Long Preston road, which was described by the European road safety group EuroRAP in 2007 as the UK's most dangerous road, and you can see why if you drive it; it's laid out like a racetrack with sharp corners in long twisty sections, long relatively straight sections which tempt high speeds into those long twisty sections, hidden junctions with little visibility, gradients which are steeper than you think (particularly in Blacko village) and a mix of high- and low-speed traffic which encourages dubious overtaking decisions.

In electoral terms this is a very safe and very boring Conservative ward.  Derwent had been the local councillor since before the modern ward was created in 2002, and polled 79.8% of the vote at both of her most recent re-elections in 2007 and 2011.  Her vote peaked in 2003 at 84.4%.  The ward is also part of a safe Conservative county council division (Pendle East).

Defending for the Conservatives is Noel McEvoy, a qualified football referee.  His opposition comes from Labour's Robert Oliver, who is vice-chairman of Barrowford parish council; the Lib Dems' Darren Reynolds, a former Burnley councillor who fought this ward in 2007; and UKIP's first candidate for the ward, Mick Waddington.

Parliamentary constituency: Pendle
Lancashire county council division: Pendle East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Burnley, Nelson and Colne

Noel McEvoy (C)
Robert Oliver (Lab)
Darren Reynolds (LD)
Mick Waddington (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 583 Lab 148
May 2007 result C 566 Lab 80 LD 63
May 2003 result C 552 Lab 62 LD 40
May 2002 result C 569 Lab 67 LD 60

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