Thursday, 7 August 2014

By-election Previews: 7 August 2014

Epping Forest district council, Essex
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Penny Smith at the age of 55.  A former chairman of the council, Smith had also served on the council's cabinet.

Epping Upland
This is a large and slightly unwieldy rural ward, which basically consists of the countryside between Waltham Abbey to the south-west, Epping to the south-east and Harlow to the north.  Despite the order of the names, the largest unit within the ward is the parish of Epping Upland, a small village north-west of Epping.  Broadley Common is a village on the edge of Harlow, while Nazeing can be found between the two.

This is a very strongly Conservative ward; in the four previous contests this century Penny Smith polled over 83% every time.  The Tories also safely hold the wider North Weald and Nazeing county division, although UKIP were a strong second in the 2013 county elections.

Defending for the Tories is Robert Glozier, a former district councillor; he served for Theydon Bois ward but lost his seat to the Lib Dems in 2006.  On paper he should have a much easier task here.  His opposition will come from William Hartington of the Green Party, Arnold Verrall of the Lib Dems and Ron McEvoy of UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Epping Forest
Essex county council division: North Weald and Nazeing
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Robert Glozier (C)
William Hartington (Grn)
Ron McEvoy (UKIP)
Arnold Verrall (LD)

May 2011 result C 585 Grn 69 LD 43
May 2007 result C 481 LD 77
May 2003 result C 389 LD 65
May 2002 result C 448 LD 74

Worthing borough council, West Sussex
Caused by the disqualification of Liberal Democrat councillor David Potter, who failed to attend any council meetings in six months.

Goring-by-Sea Railway Station
The Castle ward of Worthing is one of those places that's neither here nor there, a tract of housing on the western edge of town between the South Coast railway line to the south and the dual-carriageway Littlehampton Road to the north.  The two railway stations serving the ward are Goring-by-Sea (Goring lies to the south of here) and the notably ugly Durrington-by-Sea station (Durrington lies to the north).  It's not all a retirement area though and there are some large employers: a large Revenue and Customs office is located here, while just outside the ward boundary is the headquarters and call centre of Southern Water.

One of the streets within the ward is called Poling Close, and that is a pretty good description of recent elections here.  The three seats within the ward originally split two to the Lib Dems and one to the Conservatives in a 2004 result which was essentially a photo-finish, and despite a series of further close results the balance of seats stayed that way until 2010.  David Potter was first elected in 2007 in a double-vacancy election, holding the seat of Lib Dem councillor Claire Potter (no relation) who had resigned.  The 2010 election saw the Lib Dems gain the Tory seat, but the Conservatives struck back to regain a seat in the ward in 2011.  Potter was re-elected in 2012 although his attendance was reportedly already becoming erratic.  In 2014 the Tories took the lead on seats in the ward for the first time, with the Lib Dem vote badly crashing and the seat developing into a close Tory/UKIP fight.  At county level most of the ward is within
 the Northbrook division, which the Lib Dems held in 2013 by just five votes over the Tories, but the southern fringe of the ward can be found within the Tory/UKIP marginal Goring division.

With the last Lib Dem seat up for grabs, it will be interesting to see if May's election result marks a realignment of the ward's politics or turns out to be something of an aberration.  The Lib Dem candidate Nicholas Wiltshire is obviously hoping for the latter; he works in the local hospital and with local sports teams.  The Tory candidate is 20-year-old Alex Harman, chairman of the local Conservative Future branch; he fought Worthing's Central ward in May and lost by nine votes to Lib Dem-to-Green defector, former Mayor of Worthing and Cleverdick James Doyle.  Could Harman make it two losses in three months to an ex-Mayor of Worthing called James who had recently defected to another party and lost his first election under his new colours?  UKIP's Charles James will certainly hope so; he was a Tory mayor of the town in 2012/3 but narrowly failed to win re-election as UKIP in May.  Also on the ballot paper are Labour's Jim Deen and the Green
 Party's Stefan Sykes.

Parliamentary constituency: Worthing West
West Sussex county council division: Goring (part), Northbrook (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Worthing

Jim Deen (Lab)
Alex Harman (C)
Charles James (UKIP)
Stefan Sykes (Grn)
Nicholas Wiltshire (LD)

May 2014 result C 702 UKIP 653 LD 414 Lab 324 Grn 88
May 2012 result LD 701 C 505 UKIP 270 Lab 262
May 2011 result C 892 LD 807 Lab 436 UKIP 251
May 2010 result LD 2199 C 1542
May 2008 result LD 1167 C 926
May 2007 double vacancy LD 1025/952 C 944/924 Grn 251 UKIP 204
May 2006 result C 999 LD 884 Grn 228
June 2004 result LD 1093/1090/1078 C 1081/1042/1012

Stroud district council, Gloucestershire
Caused by the resignation of Green Party councillor Molly Scott-Cato, who has been elected to the 
European Parliament.

Stroud - World's First Bee Guardian Town
Wards called "Valley" (and there are a fair few of them) are rarely that clear as to their location; but with Stroud being known as the meeting place of five valleys this is even less informative than usual.  The valley which gives its name to this particular ward is that of the Slad, whose reaches above the town were immortalised in Laurie Lee's book Cider with Rosie.

Stroud is one of the oldest Green Party hotspots at local government level, and this a safe ward for the party. Scott-Cato was first elected here in 2011, having previously contested a variety of elections including the 1996 Northern Ireland forum/talks election and two tilts at the Preseli Pembrokeshire parliamentary constituency. The Greens also safely hold the local county council division (Stroud Central).

Defending for the Green Party is author and publisher Martin Baxendale.  James Heslop stands for Labour.  The Conservative candidate is IT worker Stephen Davies. Also standing are UKIP's Stuart Love and Lucy Roberts from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Parliamentary constituency: Stroud
Gloucestershire county council division: Stroud Central
ONS Travel to Work Area: Swindon

Martin Baxendale (Grn)
Stephen Davies (C)
James Heslop (Lab)
Stuart Love (UKIP)
Lucy Roberts (TUSC)

May 2011 result Grn 417 Lab 279 C 190
May 2007 result Grn 340 C 148 Lab 89
June 2004 by-election Grn 319 C 174 Lab 100 LD 64
May 2003 result Grn 296 C 145 Lab 113 LD 57
May 2002 result Grn 217 Lab 158 C 112 LD 92

Huntingdonshire district council, Cambridgeshire
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Flight Lieutenant John Pethard at the age of 71.

Clock Tower, Warboys
On the edge of the Fens, the large village of Warboys can be found on the Huntingdon-Wisbech road, while Bury can be found to the north-west and is essentially a southern extension of Ramsey.  Warboys is probably best known for a late-sixteenth-century witchcraft trial, while Bury is the birthplace of bandy, a winter sport similar to ice hockey but using smaller sticks and a ball, which was first played on the Bury Fen.  The ward also includes the small parish of Wistow.

The ward was created for the 2004 elections at which its two seats split between the Lib Dems and Conservatives.  This split continued until 2012, suriving a by-election in 2007 which the Lib Dems held; the Lib Dem hold in 2008 was the only close result in this period.  In 2012 the Lib Dem vote crashed and they fell from first place to fourth behind John Pethard, who won convincingly for the Conservatives, UKIP and Labour.  May's ordinary election confirmed that pattern, with UKIP's vote rising slightly from 2012.  Since 2013 UKIP have held the local county seat (Warboys and Upwood), gaining what had previously been a safe Tory division.

Defending for the Conservatives is Angie Curtis, from nearby Ramsey.  On paper her biggest challenge will come from the local UKIP county councillor Michael Tew, who is the only candidate to live within the ward (in Bury).  Also standing are the reselected Labour and Lib Dem candidates from May, respectively Mary Howell (from Yaxley) and Christine Wills (from Somersham).

Parliamentary constituency: North West Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire county council division: Warboys and Upwood
ONS Travel to Work Area: Huntingdon

Angie Curtis (C)
Mary Howell (Lab)
Michael Tew (UKIP)
Christine Wills (LD)

May 2014 result C 864 UKIP 576 Lab 172 LD 138
May 2012 result C 612 UKIP 346 Lab 195 LD 169
May 2010 result C 1746 LD 906 UKIP 407 Lab 299
May 2008 result LD 839 C 787 UKIP 138 Lab 59
Feb 2007 by-election LD 1122 C 495 UKIP 97 Lab 20
May 2006 result C 1012 LD 643 Lab 90
June 2004 result LD 1051/782 C 1008/929 Lab 162

Malvern Hills district council, Worcestershire
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Chris Cheeseman at the age of 73.  A councillor for Wells ward since 2007, Cheeseman collapsed and died while speaking at a meeting of the council's planning committee.

Assarts, Malvern Wells
In the shadow of the Malvern Hills and running from the Worcestershire Beacon to the Herefordshire Beacon, the Wells ward is based on the villages of Malvern Wells and Little Malvern.  There are many strings to the ward's economic bow: firstly, on the flat ground at the bottom of the hill is the Three Counties Showground, which on polling day will feature the final day of the National Pony Society's summer championships.  Up on the slopes is the source of Wells ward's principal export: bottled Malvern spa water.  Schweppes no longer bottle Malvern water commercially, but their original spring at Holywell - claimed to be the world's oldest water bottling plant - has now been brought back into use on a smaller scale.  The ward has strong links with the composer Edward Elgar, who is buried in Little Malvern.

The Wells ward was safely Lib Dem in 2003, but the Tories gained the two seats in 2007 and increased their majority in 2011 against only Green Party opposition.  Cheeseman clearly had a personal vote in the ward, as he beat his running-mate despite being lower down the ballot paper.

Defending for the Conservatives is retired teacher, businesswoman and Malvern Wells parish councillor Chris O'Donnell.  Fighting the ward for the first time, Labour have selected teacher Christopher Burrows.  Independent candidate Louise Gibson is campaigning against overdevelopment of the area.  The Lib Dems have selected IT engineer Simon Gill, and the UKIP candidate is water distribution engineer Richard Spencer.

Parliamentary constituency: West Worcestershire
Worcestershire county council division: Malvern Chase
ONS Travel to Work Area: Worcester and Malvern

Christopher Burrows (Lab)
Louise Gibson (Ind)
Simon Gill (LD)
Chris O'Donnell (C)
Richard Spencer (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 822/784 Grn 491/386
May 2007 result C 631/584 LD 525/453 Grn 217 UKIP 106
May 2003 result LD 639/533 C 373/324 Grn 168

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