Wednesday, 30 July 2014

By-election Previews: 31 July 2014

Four by-elections are taking place this week.  Two are covered here, and the other two over on the Welsh Elections blog.

DARWELL
Rother district council, East Sussex
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Bob White for health reasons.

Burwash Village
The Darwell ward is a large tract of rural East Sussex, located in the hills of the Sussex Weald to the north-west of Battle.  There is no village called Darwell; rather, the ward is named after the Darwell Wood site of special scientific interest, which surrounds the Darwell Reservoir that provides much of the area's drinking water.  The largest village within the ward (providing around 1,450 electors) is Burwash, probably best known as the home of Rudyard Kipling who set Puck of Pook's Hill in the area.

Darwell ward returns two members to Rother district council, and in the 2003 and 2007 elections they were David Vereker of the Conservatives and independent candidate Wendy Miers, who was not opposed by the Tories.  Miers stood down in 2011 and Bob White - who was elected for the neighbouring Battle Town ward as a Lib Dem in 2003 but lost his seat as a Conservative in 2007 - was elected in her place.  At county level the ward is split between the safe Tory division of Rother North West and the safe Lib Dem division of Battle and Crowhurst; however, the Lib Dem strength in Battle and Crowhurst comes from Battle town which is not part of this ward.

Defending for the Tories is Eleanor Kirby-Green, who lives outside the ward in Ticehurst.  Andrew Wedmore of the Green Party, the runner-up in the 2011 district election, tries his luck again; he lives within the ward at Brightling.  The Lib Dems have reselected Tracy Dixon, who also lives within the ward (at Netherfield), while Labour's candidate is Suz Evasdaughter, a B&B owner with an interest in raw food.  Completing the ballot paper is UKIP's Edward Smith, from Burwash.

Parliamentary constituency: Bexhill and Battle
East Sussex county council divisions: Battle and Crowhurst (part: Mountfield and Whatlington parishes and part of Battle parish); Rother North West (part: Brightling, Burwash and Dallington parishes)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Hastings (part: Mountfield and Whatlington parishes and part of Battle parish); Tunbridge Wells (part: Brightling, Burwash and Dallington parishes)

Tracy Dixon (LD)
Suz Evasdaughter (Lab)
Eleanor Kirby-Green (C)
Edward Smith (UKIP)
Andrew Wedmore (Grn)

May 2011 result C 1168/1016 Grn 386 LD 363/341 Lab 228
May 2007 result C 1072 Ind 685 LD 469
May 2003 result C 858 Ind 756 LD 476


THURMASTON
Charnwood borough council, Leicestershire
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Paul Harley due to work commitments.  Harley had been a Charnwood councillor for eleven years and had served on the council's cabinet.

The Top House, Thurmaston
Thurmaston is a Leicester suburb, located just outside the city limits.  It can be found to the north-east of the city on the Fosse Way, on the eastern bank of the River Soar.

Although Thurmaston forms part of a safe Conservative parliamentary seat, it is a key marginal ward in the current political climate.  The ward's three seats split two Tory and one Labour in 2003.  The Tories then won the 2005 county council election (the county division has the same boundaries as the district ward) with Harley as their candidate.  The 2007 district election and 2009 county election were convincing Conservative wins, but the 2011 district election was a much closer-run affair: the Tories held all three seats but with majorities over Labour of just 167, 93 and 3 votes.  Labour followed up on this good performance by gaining the county council seat from Paul Harley last year by a majority of 123 votes.

Defending for the Conservatives is Hanif Asmal, a teacher, Syston parish councillor and chairman of the Charnwood Conservative Association.  The Labour challenge is led by Thurmaston parish councillor Ralph Raven, who is the only candidate to live within the ward.  Charnwood is one of only two local councils to still have a BNP member, and the BNP polled 24% here at the 2007 district election; this time the far-right vote is disputed between Stephen Denham of the BNP and Chris Canham of the British Democrats, a BNP splinter group associated with former MEP Andrew Brons.  Tom Prior, Thurmaston's first UKIP candidate, comples the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: Charnwood
Leicestershire county council division: Thurmaston
ONS Travel to Work Area: Leicester

Hanif Asmal (C)
Chris Canham (BDP)
Stephen Denham (BNP)
Tom Prior (UKIP)
Ralph Raven (Lab)

May 2013 result Lab 1094 C 971 BNP 242
May 2011 result C 1473/1399/1309 Lab 1306/1153/1058
June 2009 result C 1322 Lab 593 BNP 529 LD 260
May 2007 result C 1363/1288/1283 Lab 873/735/728 BNP 713
May 2005 county council result C 1810 Lab 1590 LD 505 BNP 307 Ind 175
May 2003 result C 838/781/748 Lab 803/769/731 Ind 321/259/249

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