Thursday, 17 July 2014

By-election Previews: 17 July 2014

King's Lynn and West Norfolk borough council
Caused by the resignation of Green Party councillor Lori Allen.

RAF Marham Boundary Fence
The Airfield ward is a large rural ward in western Norfolk, running down to the River Nar on its northern boundary and the River Great Ouse at its western extent.  The airfield of the name is RAF Marham, still a very active airfield with three squadrons of Tornados based here.  The polling district covering the RAF station accounts for around a third of the ward's electors; however, servicemen rarely vote in local elections so a low turnout (even by local by-election standards) can be expected.  Away from the airbase the largest villages in the ward are Marham itself and Runcton Holme, down on the Great Ouse floodplain.

Airfield was very strongly Conservative when the current ward was created in 2003, and the two Tory councillors were re-elected unopposed in 2007.  However, in the 2011 election the Conservatives unaccountably stood only one candidate for the two seats; the beneficiary of this decision was the Green Party's Lori Allen who beat Labour and an independent candidate standing on an anti-incinerator ticket (an incinerator proposed for near King's Lynn has been a highly toxic politicial issue in this district for most of the last decade). Matters got worse for the local Conservatives in the 2013 Norfolk county council elections, in which they lost one of the county divisions covering this ward to UKIP and held UKIP off only narrowly in the other.

Defending for the Green Party is farmer Jonathan Burr.  The Conservative candidate is Geoff Hipperson, borough councillor for this ward until 2011 and chairman of Shouldham parish council.  Maths teacher Sebastian Polhill stands for Labour, and Watlington parish councillor Bob Scully is the UKIP candidate.

Parliamentary constituency: South West Norfolk
Norfolk county council division: Fincham (part: Runcton Holme, Shouldham Thorpe and Tottenhill parishes); Gayton and Nar Valley (part: Marham, Shouldham and Wormegay parishes)
ONS Travel to Work Area: King's Lynn and Fakenham

Jonathan Burr (Grn)
Geoff Hipperson (C)
Sebastian Polhill (Lab)
Bob Scully (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 782 Grn 386 Lab 354 Ind 283
May 2007 result 2 C unopposed
May 2003 result C 958/847 Lab 442 LD 334

Redditch borough council, Worcestershire
Caused by the resignation of UKIP councillor Dave Small after just two weeks in office.  Small was elected as councillor for this ward on 22nd May this year but was almost immediately expelled from UKIP over racist and homophobic Facebook comments.

Edgeworth Close, Church Hill
Well, that didn't take long.  Less than two months have elapsed since the 2014 ordinary elections and we already have our first vacancy among the councillors elected that day.  This vacancy has occurred in the Church Hill ward, the north-east corner of the new town of Redditch; started in 1975 and one of Redditch's largest developments, Church Hill is described as a social planning experiment, with social housing concentrated in the south of the estate, private housing to the north and services in the centre.

The social mix adds up to a normally-Labour-inclined ward which since 2004 had been lost by the party only once - to the Tories in 2010, by 19 votes after they came 11 votes short in 2008.  The Tory seat was duly lost in May's ordinary election, but not to Labour: to a UKIP candidate who quickly proved to be too much of a racist, loony and closet fruitcake for even UKIP to handle.  Mind, this UKIP performance - a 50-vote majority over Labour - wasn't a one-off: last year the party split with Labour the two county council seats in the local Arrow Valley East division, which had voted Conservative in 2009.

Defending for UKIP is Len Harris, chairman of the local party branch.  The second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-placed candidates from May are all trying again: respectively they are Nina Wood-Ford for Labour, Kathy Haslam for the Tories, Lee Bradley for the Green Party, perennial Lib Dem candidate David Gee and independent Agnieszka Wiecek.  Completing the ballot paper is a second independent candidate, Isabel Armstrong.

Parliamentary constituency: Redditch
Worcestershire county council division: Arrow Valley East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Birmingham

May 2014 result UKIP 665 Lab 615 C 433 Grn 80 LD 79 Ind 26 Ind 14
May 2012 double vacancy Lab 883/793 C 466/430 LD 106/102 Grn 90/71 Ind 51/47/41
May 2011 result Lab 992 C 768 LD 205 Grn 139
May 2010 result C 1301 Lab 1282 LD 788 Ind 123 Grn 93
May 2008 result Lab 733 C 722 LD 233 Ind 176
May 2007 result Lab 824 C 690 LD 377
May 2006 result Lab 865 C 626 LD 428
June 2004 result Lab 974/966/909 LD 564/542/528 C 434/422/360

Isabel Armstrong (Ind)
Lee Bradley (Grn)
David Gee (LD)
Len Harris (UKIP)
Kathy Haslam (C)
Agnieszka Wiecek (Ind)
Nina Wood-Ford (Lab)

East Dorset district council
Caused by the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Don Wallace at the age of 95.  Chairman of the council in 1995/6, Wallace served for 41 years in elected office on East Dorset district council, Dorset county council and Colehill parish council.  After serving in West Africa and Burma during the Second World War, Wallace had a career in personnel management in his native Birmingham and Dorset, and also worked as a university lecturer.

Colehill Library
From one of the shortest-serving councillors in recent times to one of the longest.  Colehill is a village north of Poole about whom nobody seems to have very much to say; the Wikipedia article is long on speculation about what might have happened here in prehistoric times but short on information after about 1500.  The deprivation indices show this area to be very much at the rich end of the spectrum, so I'll take a wild guess and say that there are a fair number of people here who commute to Poole and Bournemouth.

Despite (or perhaps because of) his age, Wallace doesn't appear to have had much of a personal vote and badly trailed his Lib Dem colleague Janet Dover at the May 2011 election in this safe Lib Dem ward.  Dover is also the county councillor for the area and increased her majority in the 2013 county elections; bad news for the local Tories in their quest to regain the marginal parliamentary seat of Mid Dorset and North Poole.

Two Colehill parish councillors will square off in this by-election: in the yellow corner is Lib Dem defender Barry Roberts, while in the blue corner parish council chairman Graeme Smith challenges for the Conservatives.  In the purple corner is UKIP's David Mattocks, who describes himself as a "business broker", whatever that means.  Labour have thrown in the towel, so those are your three candidates.

Parliamentary constituency: Mid Dorset and North Poole
Dorset county council division: Colehill and Stapehill
ONS Travel to Work Area: Poole

David Mattocks (UKIP)
Barry Roberts (LD)
Graeme Smith (C)

May 2011 result LD 1066/765 C 668/667 Lab 200 UKIP 175
May 2007 result LD 933/805 C 486/447 UKIP 210/205 Lab 83
May 2003 result LD 799/709 C 480/459 Ind 132 Lab 92

Oxford city council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Helen O'Hara.

Cowley Road, Oxford
In south-eastern Oxford, Cowley is well-known for motor vehicle manufacturing, with BMW's Mini factory today continuing a tradition going back to the nineteenth century.  One of the nineteenth-century manufacturers in this area was John Allen and Sons, which made agricultural machinery until the 1980s; the site of their factory has been redeveloped into a retail park called the John Allen Centre which lies at the centre of the modern Cowley ward.  Further out of the city is the Oxford Business Park next to the ring road, a modern redevelopment of the old Morris Motors factory; further in is Florence Park, a popular neighbourhood built in the 1920s for Cowley factory workers.

The Cowley factories have a reputation for strong trade unionism, and it's appropriate that the modern Cowley ward is safe for Labour, with the exception of a fluke Lib Dem win in 2006; the Lib Dem councillor who won that year later defected to Labour in whose colours he was re-elected in 2010. Labour also hold the Cowley division of Oxfordshire county council, which includes parts of neighbouring wards.

Defending for Labour is David Henwood, a secondary school teacher and former engineer at the Cowley body plant.  May's election saw a surprise runner-up: an independent candidate campaigning to save the Temple Cowley swimming pool, who appeared on the ballot paper only as "Artwell"; he is back on the campaign trail for this by-election.  Law lecturer Hazel Dawe is the Green Party candidate, while environmental scientist Katharine Harborne stands for the Tories; Nepalese restaurateur Prakash Sharma is the Lib Dem nominee, and completing the ballot paper is UKIP's local party chair and PPC Ian Macdonald.

Parliamentary constituency: Oxford East
Oxfordshire county council division: Cowley
ONS Travel to Work Area: Oxford

Artwell (Ind)
Hazel Dawe (Grn)
Katharine Harborne (C)
David Henwood (Lab)
Ian Macdonald (UKIP)
Prakash Sharma (LD)

May 2014 result Lab 659 Ind 373 Grn 268 C 186 LD 142
May 2012 result Lab 626 Grn 276 C 196 LD 115
May 2010 result Lab 1264 LD 601 C 506 Grn 385
May 2008 result Lab 692 C 250 LD 224 Grn 180 Ind 91
May 2006 result LD 627 Lab 534 Grn 294 Respect 213
June 2004 result Lab 616 LD 396 Grn 323 C 262
May 2002 result Lab 693/668 LD 392/360 C 210 Grn 157/146

Harrogate borough council, North Yorkshire
Caused by the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Reg Marsh.

The Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate
This is a ward on the south-eastern outskirts of Harrogate, either side of the A661 road to Wetherby.  While it is primarily residential rather than touristy (as much of Harrogate town centre is), nonetheless the ward receives many visitors each year as it is the location of the Great Yorkshire Showground.  On polling day you can visit an exhibition being put on by Motability; or you can wait two weeks for the Great Northern Needlecraft Show, at which one of the quilt exhibits (the one with the two dragons with intertwined tails) is destined, once the show is over, for your columnist's bed. Thanks Mum!

For years a safe Lib Dem ward, Hookstone ward had been represented by Reg Marsh and his wife Pat since the current ward was created in 2002.  Pat Marsh was re-elected in May in the ward's closest result yet, the Tories cutting the Lib Dem majority to less than 9 points and turning the ward into a marginal.  That swing since 2010 suggests that the Lib Dems may have their work cut out to regain the Harrogate and Knaresborough parliamentary seat at next May's general election; an impression reinforced by the Tories gaining the Harrogate Oatlands county council division (which covers most of this ward) from the Lib Dems in last year's county elections.

Defending for the Lib Dems is Clare Skardon, who fought the safe-Tory Stray ward in May's ordinary elections.  The Tory challenger is Phil Headford, who runs a garden design company.  Also standing are Alan Henderson for UKIP and Pat(ricia) Foxall for Labour.

Parliamentary constituency: Harrogate and Knaresborough
North Yorkshire county council division: Harrogate Oatlands (part), Harrogate Starbeck (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Harrogate and Ripon

Pat Foxall (Lab)
Phil Headford (C)
Alan Henderson (UKIP)
Clare Skardon (LD)

May 2014 result LD 760 C 607 UKIP 291 Lab 128
May 2011 result LD 1153 C 708 Lab 257
May 2010 result LD 2139 C 1150
May 2007 result LD 1202 C 467 BNP 112 Lab 57
May 2006 result LD 1137 C 652 Lab 57
May 2003 result LD 956 C 671 Lab 60
May 2002 result LD 1114/1030 C 645/628 Lab 96

Herefordshire council
Caused by the deaths of Conservative councillors Peter Watts and Roger Hunt respectively.  Watts, who died at the age of 66 after a four-year battle with bone cancer, had served on Herefordshire council since 2003 and was a Ledbury town councillor from 2000 until 2013; a former paratrooper and fireman, he had a key role in encouraging new employment on the site of the former Robertson's jam factory in Ledbury.  Hunt, a four-time Mayor of Leominster, also had a fight with cancer, successfully raising a six-figure sum in 2007 to secure treatment in the USA for a very rare form of spinal cancer; his death came at the age of 68.

Church Lane, Ledbury
Here we have two of the beautiful small market towns which you only seem to get in the Marches.  In the shadow of the Malvern Hills, Ledbury can be found at the south-eastern corner of Herefordshire on the Hereford-Worcester railway line.  The town is noted for its large number of old timber-framed buildings, and has a light industrial base: packaging is manufactured here, while the site of the Robertson's jam factory is now used by Universal Beverages to process fruit for cider producers.

Leominster (pronounced Lemster, for those who weren't aware) is the only major town in northern Herefordshire, located on the main road and railway line through the Marches from Hereford to Shrewsbury.  An ancient religious centre, Leominster was established by the wool trade (wool from local sheep was especially prized) and now, like Ledbury, a large amount of its economy is based on tourism.  In case your columnist hasn't said this before, the Marches are a very beautiful part of the country.

The three-member Ledbury ward covers the whole of the town together with the smaller parishes of Eastnor to the east and Donnington to the south.  It returned an Independent, a Conservative and a Lib Dem councillor in 2003, but the Conservatives swept the ward in 2007 and held it a by-election on general election day in 2010, caused by one of the Conservative councillors being elected to the European Parliament.  At the most recent local election in 2011 the localist political party It's Our County (Herefordshire) split the ward again by taking one of the three Conservative seats.

The Leominster South ward is the south of the town itself together with a few hamlets which lie within the Leominster parish boundary.  In 2003 the two seats split Tory/Labour; the Conservatives gained the Labour seat in 2007 but then lost a by-election to an independent candidate in October 2008.  The Tory and Independent councillors were both re-elected in 2011.

Ledbury's by-election is a three-way fight.  Defending for the Tories is Allen Conway, a town councillor and former Mayor of Ledbury.  The present Mayor of Ledbury, 33-year-old sales manager Terry Widdows, is the It's Our County candidate.  UKIP's nominee is Paul Stanford, a former headteacher who has served in the Royal Navy; he gives an adress eight miles away in Weston Beggard.

In Leominster South the Tory defence is led by Wayne Rosser, community dog warden.  The independent candidate is Angela Pendleton, who ran the gold-medal-winning Leominster in Bloom team.  Nominated for the Green Party is Jenny Bartlett from Leintwardine, who describes herself as a "former mapping specialist"; perhaps she can explain how the new OS Election Maps website is better than the old.  (Hint: it isn't, although your columnist has been informed than an upgrade is in the works which may change that.)  Labour's Emma Pardoe is, like all the candidates previously mentioned, a Leominster town councillor; the odd candidate out in that respect is UKIP's Liz Portman-Lewis.

Parliamentary constituency: North Herefordshire
ONS Travel to Work Area: Hereford and Leominster

Allen Conway (C)
Paul Stanford (UKIP)
Terry Widdows (It's Our County (Herefordshire))

May 2011 result C 1403/1129/1300 It's Our County (Herefordshire) 1287/1013/809 LD 526/456/437 Lab 481
May 2010 by-election C 2438 LD 1769 Ind 713
May 2007 result C 1393/1331/1255 LD 976/799 Ind 820/255 Grn 693
May 2003 result Ind 1791/1272/982 C 1762/1186/859 LD 1496

Leominster South
Parliamentary constituency: North Herefordshire
ONS Travel to Work Area: Hereford and Leominster

May 2011 result C 787/427 Ind 660/233 Grn 268/240 Lab 160
Oct 2008 by-election Ind 515 C 397 Grn 200 LD 131
May 2007 result C 827/634 Grn 393 Ind 387 LD 267
May 2003 result C 1082/673 Lab 840/364 Grn 313/291 Ind 305 LD 304

Jennifer Bartlett (Grn)
Emma Pardoe (Lab)
Angela Pendleton (Ind)
Liz Portman-Lewis (UKIP)
Wayne Rosser (C)

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