Thursday, 11 September 2014

By-election Previews: 11 September 2014

By-elections on 11th September:

ABINGDON DUNMORE
Vale of White Horse district council, Oxfordshire
Caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Julia Bricknell who is moving away from the area.

The Spread Eagle, Abingdon
One of England's oldest towns, Abingdon on Thames has been occupied since the Iron Age.  The town had one of the oldest abbeys in England, the Saxon Abingdon Abbey; after the Conquest the Normans gave the place a vote of confidence as the future King Henry I was educated there. Following the dissolution of the Abbey Queen Mary I granted the town a borough charter, after which it assumed the title of county town of Berkshire.  Although it lost this title to Reading in the mid-nineteenth century, Abingdon became a prosperous town in the twentieth century, with major employers including MG cars and the Morland brewery, original brewers of the Duke of Edinburgh's favourite tipple Old Speckled Hen.  Today the town is home to many professionals who work in science and computing, major scientific employers such as UKAEA, Harwell Laboratory and Oxford University being nearby, and the town also being the home of the educational computing supplier RM and the antivirus company Sophos.  Despite this prosperity, Abingdon is one of the largest towns in southern England without a railway station.

Local election results in Abingdon tend to be close fights between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.  Dunmore ward (which covers the north of the town) saw its two seats split between the two parties in 2003; the Conservatives lost their seat to the Lib Dems in 2007 but won one seat back in 2011 to give the ward split representation again.  The marginal theme scales up to county level, where the Abingdon North ward is a Tory/Lib Dem marginal, and even to parliamentary level (in the Oxford West and Abingdon constitunecy).

Defending for the Lib Dems is Margaret Crick, a former Abingdon on Thames town councillor; she is up against a current town councillor, the Tories' Andrew Todd.  Also standing are Labour's Mike Gould and UKIP's Christopher Parkes.

Parliamentary constituency: Oxford West and Abingdon
Oxfordshire county council division: Abingdon North

Margaret Crick (LD)
Mike Gould (Lab)
Christopher Parkes (UKIP)
Andrew Todd (C)

May 2011 result C 951/831 LD 866/673 Lab 249 Grn 235
Oct 2009 by-election LD 795 C 602 Grn 71 Lab 43
May 2007 result LD 991/964 C 777/758 Lab 119
May 2003 result LD 705/637 C 666/659 Lab 149


BECKTON
London Borough of Newham, North London
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Alec Kellaway at the age of 61.  A Newham councillor since winning a 1987 by-election for the SDP, Kellaway was an economist by training and adviser on finance to the Mayor of Newham.

Beckton DLR Station
Into the East End here, and an area which was once heavily industrialised.  Beckton's history starts in 1864 with Joseph Bazalgette and his development of a sewer network for London; Bazalgette's sewers north of the Thames all converge on Beckton, where they originally ran straight into the Thames but now feed what is claimed to be Europe's biggest sewage works.  Also in the 1860s Europe's largest gasworks was being built here, and Beckton's name derives from Simon Beck, then governor of the Gas Light and Coke Company and ultimate employer of Beckton's original population, which was essentially workers at the gasworks.

Beckton Gas Works closed in 1969, and after a time as a slowly decaying film set (the opening sequence of the Bond film For Your Eyes Only and most of the Vietnam War scenes of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket were filmed here) the area has been comprehensively redeveloped under the auspices of the London Docklands Development Corporation, resulting in the mostly rather-nice-looking private 1980s/1990s housing that dominates the ward.  The only vestige of the gasworks that still exists is a large spoil heap (the "Beckton Alp") which was once used as a dry ski slope.  Cycle paths have been built on top of the sewers, while much of the former gasworks site has been turned into out-of-town retail parks and the major depot for the Docklands Light Railway, whose Beckton, Gallions Reach, Cyprus and Beckton Park stations all lie within the ward.  The curious name of Cyprus station comes from fact that the local housing was built at the time that Britain nabbed Cyprus off the Ottoman Empire; today the station is surrounded by a campus of the University of East London.  At the very south-west corner of the ward the ward boundary runs through the middle of Building 1000, a very new, very shiny and very expensive office block on the Royal Albert Dock which has been the home of Newham council since 2010.

There were rumours last year - officially denied - that the council was intending to move out of Building 1000 because it couldn't sell its old premises.  This sort of thing is typical of the rumour that attaches itself to Newham council, which is a favourite subject of Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column - not entirely fairly as the council does appear to be well-run.  Instead, the main attention is to the borough's political culture; opposition to Labour is so weak that the council is a literal one-party state and has been since 2010, when the opposition councillors (from Respect and the Christian People's Alliance) lost their seats.  Labour also won all the borough's seats in 1998 and had 59 out of 60 in the 1994 elections, with the sole opposition member being one Alec Kellaway, elected for the Liberal Democrats.  A month later, Kellaway was the Lib Dem candidate for a parliamentary by-election in Newham North West, and earned himself a footnote in
 British political history by defecting to Labour on the day before polling.  Kellaway had served for Beckton ward since 2002 and before then for its predecessor, South ward (the Beckton ward that existed before 2002 was in the Canning Town area).

Beckton's voting patterns are typical of the rest of Newham, with Labour polling 58% at the most recent borough elections.  In May this was the best Tory ward in the borough, the party polling 34%; this may be a result of demographic change (the ward's electorate has increased by a third since 2000) or may be a side-effect of the only other party on the ballot being the Christian People's Alliance.  At the last London Assembly election in 2012, Ken beat Boris in the ward's ballot boxes 66-23, while Labour topped the poll in the London Members ballot with 67% to 13% for the Conservatives.

Defending for Labour is Toni Wilson.  The Tory candidate for the by-election is Syed Ahmed, while Kayode Shedowo stands for the Christian Peoples Alliance.  Mark Dunne is the candidate of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, and the ballot paper is completed by three candidates who contested the Newham mayoral election in May: the Green Party's Jane Lithgow, UKIP's David Mears and the Lib Dems' David Thorpe.

Parliamentary constituency: East Ham
GLA constituency: City and East

May 2014 result Lab 1789/1778/1713 C 1033/731/615 CPA 242/204/180
May 2010 result Lab 2361/2258/2253 C 1170/1154/815 LD 1030/529 CPA 363/332/232
May 2006 result Lab 1188/1187/1130 C 627/593/455 Respect 448/413/386 CPA 369/230
May 2002 result Lab 945/930/860 LD 369 C 348 Grn 277 BNP 217

May 2012 GLA results (excluding postal voters)
Mayor: Ken 1375 Boris 468 Ind 61 LD 46 BNP 45 Grn 40 UKIP 39
London Members: Lab 1403 C 274 Grn 97 UKIP 73 CPA 72 BNP 60 LD 59 EDP 19 TUSC 17 NF 9 House Party 9 Hayat 7 Alagaratnam 2

Syed Ahmed (C)
Mark Dunne (TUSC)
Jane Lithgow (Grn)
David Mears (UKIP)
Kayode Shedowo (CPA)
David Thorpe (LD)
Toni Wilson (Lab)


CASTLE
Cumbria county council; AND Carlisle city council
Both caused by the death of Labour councillor Willie Whalen at the age of 67.  A lifelong trade unionist and committed left-wing campaigner, Whalen had represented Castle on the city council since 2011 and on the county council since winning a by-election in March 2012.

Carlisle Castle
This division and ward are named after Carlisle Castle, which was built in the 11th century under King William II, and rebuilt in stone by his successor Henry I, to guard the English/Scottish border.  The castle saw action many times up until the unification of England and Scotland in 1603, and last saw action in 1745 when it was the last English garrison left by Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite rebellion.  Today the castle is open to the public, but the Army still has a presence here, the castle being the headquarters of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.  In 2009 your columnist went to Carlisle Castle under their auspices as part of the centenary celebrations for the TA.

The county division named after Carlisle Castle falls into two separate parts.  To the west side of the castle and the River Caldew is the Willow Holme and Newtown areas around the Cumberland Infirmary.  To the east side of the castle is Carlisle's historic city centre, all of which is in this ward except for Citadel railway station.  The northern boundary of the ward is the River Eden and much of the north of the ward is flood plain.  The ward includes some Cumbria University buildings.

The county divisions and city wards in urban Carlisle all had the same boundaries until 2013 when the Cumbria county divisions were redistributed, since when there is no longer an exact match although the changes to Castle division were minor.  In the fact file below I have included county council results for the pre-2013 Castle division in the district ward series.

One thing that immediately sticks out is that Castle has a very high councillor attrition rate: these are the sixth and seventh by-elections here since 2000, and in those fourteen years the area has previously gone to the polls nineteen times (ten ordinary city council elections, four ordinary county council elections, three city council by-elections in April 2001, November 2005 and March 2009, and two county council by-elections in February 2007 and March 2012).  From June 2001 to May 2010 all of these were won by the Liberal Democrats with Labour second, making Castle the only reliable Lib Dem ward in Carlisle.  Labour reduced the Lib Dem majority to 14 votes in 2010 and gained the ward from the Lib Dems last year, the first time they had won Castle since the April 2001 by-election when a Liberal Party candidate stood and split the Lib Dem vote.  The same Labour candidate - Willie Whalen - gained the county council seat in a by-election in March 2012.
 Labour picked up the other two city council seats without too much trouble in May 2012 and May 2014; in that period the Lib Dem vote has gone into freefall and UKIP took over second place in May this year.  With Carlisle being a marginal parliamentary seat it's possible that the Tories may put a little work into this by-election although they are highly unlikely to win.

For the county by-election Labour have selected a candidate in a similar mould to Whalen: Alan McGuckin, a regional officer for Unite who gives an address in Brampton.  The Lib Dems have made an interesting candidate choice in Lawrence Jennings, who contested the last county election here for UKIP.  The official UKIP candidate is John Stanyer, from Brocklebank near Wigton, who is also their PPC for Carlisle.  The Tories are standing James Bainbridge, who represents Stanwix Rural ward on the city council.  Completing the ballot paper is care worker and regular Green candidate Neil Boothman.

Going down to city council level, the defending Labour candidate for the city by-election is Alan Taylor.  Fiona Mills, who contested Stanwix Urban ward over the river in May, stands for UKIP.  The Tories' Robert Currie wins the award for most imaginative Twitter profile of the week, describing himself as a "noted wit, academic, political thinker, and winner of the Year 1 Colouring Competition in 1993".  Lawrence Jennings doubles up as Lib Dem candidate for both by-elections, and the Green candidate for the city council is Richard Hunt.

Castle (county division)
James Bainbridge (C)
Neil Boothman (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Alan McGuckin (Lab)
John Stanyer (UKIP)

May 2013 result Lab 460 LD 263 UKIP 227 C 120 Grn 45 TUSC 20

Castle (district ward)
Robert Currie (C)
Richard Hunt (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Fiona Mills (UKIP)
Alan Taylor (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 435 UKIP 267 C 221 LD 127 Grn 87 TUSC 28
May 2012 result Lab 663 LD 229 C 165 Grn 110
March 2012 county council by-election Lab 407 LD 369 C 93 Grn 54 UKIP 22
May 2011 result Lab 549 LD 438 Grn 135 TUSC 90 BNP 84
May 2010 result LD 816 Lab 802 C 553 Grn 161
June 2009 county council result LD 424 Lab 297 C 241 Grn 144 BNP 129
March 2009 by-election LD 465 Lab 304 BNP 255 C 143 Grn 125
May 2008 result LD 562 Lab 299 C 206 Ind 202
May 2007 result LD 607 Lab 331 C 185
Feb 2007 county council by-election LD 653 Lab 222 C 117 Grn 29
May 2006 result LD 632 Lab 321 C 149 Ind 69
Nov 2005 by-election LD 538 Lab 370
May 2005 county council result LD 937 Lab 853 C 349
June 2004 result LD 917 Lab 541
May 2003 result LD 603 Lab 443
May 2002 result LD 549 Lab 373 C 195
June 2001 county council result LD 994 Lab 786 C 448
Apr 2001 by-election Lab 329 LD 294 C 258 Lib 67


COLLINGHAM AND MEERING, and OLLERTON
Newark and Sherwood district council, Nottinghamshire
Caused respectively by the deaths of Conservative councillor Derek Evans and Labour councillor Stan Crawford.  Evans, a veteran member of Collingham parish council, had been a Newark councillor for only a year after winning a by-election in May 2013.  Crawford, a former miner whose death came at the age of 55, had a long career in local government: first being elected in 1995, he had served as leader of Newark and Sherwood district council.  Crawford stood down from the council in 2007 but returned in 2011 and was leader of the council's Labour group.

Collingham Station House
Although these two wards are in the same local government district, demographically they are chalk and cheese.  The Collingham and Meeting ward is an agricultural area covering eleven parishes on the east bank of the River Trent, on the A1133 Newark-Gainsborough road.  Collingham, a stop on the Newark-Lincoln railway line, is the largest parish of the ward and accounts for over half the electorate, while the parish of Meering, further downstream on the Trent, has a resident population of zero according to the 2011 census.

Ollerton, on the other hand, is a mining village on the A614 Nottingham-Doncaster road in the heart of the Dukeries and the Nottinghamshire coalfield, and one of relatively recent vintage: the colliery closed in 1994.  More recently the British Geological Survey has been concerned about the earth moving in the area, with 93 earthquakes having been recorded within a few miles' radius of Ollerton in the four months to mid-April 2014; none had a magnitude greater than 2 on the Richter scale and the geologists have put the activity down to continuing mineworking from the nearby Thoresby Colliery.

Back on the surface, the wards vote just like you might expect a strongly agricultural and an ex-coalmining area to vote: strongly Tory and strongly Labour respectively.  Labour actually won a by-election to Ollerton ward in January 2006 unopposed, although independent candidates can poll well in the ward and its three seats were split two to Labour and one to an independent from 2003 to 2011.  The last contest to either ward was the by-election to Collingham and Meering ward on county election day in 2013, in which Derek Evans beat the Labour candidate by 3 to 1 in a straight fight.

In those county elections, which saw Labour gain control of Nottinghamshire county council, Labour made the wider Ollerton division safe after a Tory near-miss in 2009, while the Tories actually lost the wider Collingham division to an independent.  However, despite that setback the Tory machine in Collingham is clearly in good working order, as was demonstrated a few weeks later by the party holding the Newark parliamentary by-election - the first time the Conservatives had successfully held a by-election while in government since the Thatcher years.  Ollerton did not vote in that by-election as is it part of the Sherwood constituency, a key Tory/Labour marginal.

The factfiles below show results going back to 2003; although Newark and Sherwood district was re-warded in 2007 (and will be again re-warded next year, the council having consistently failed to project future trends in the electorate), both Collingham and Meering, and Ollerton wards escaped the 2007 re-warding unchanged.

In Collingham and Meering the defending Tory candidate is Richard Shillito from Collingham, a former district councillor for the ward who stood down in 2003.  He faces opposition from Labour candidate Kieran Owen, UKIP's Sara Chadd (a local businesswoman) and independent David Clarke.

The Labour candidate to defend the Ollerton by-election is Mike Pringle, the present deputy mayor of Ollerton and Boughton; he runs a local burglar alarm company.  Standing against him are the Tories' Mary Brown, chair of the party's Sherwood branch, and the wonderfully-named UKIP candidate Moritz DCaused respectively by the deaths of Conservative councillor Derek Evans and Labour councillor Stan Crawford.  Evans, a veteran member of Collingham parish council, had been a Newark councillor for only a year after winning a by-election in May 2013.  Crawford, a former miner whose death came at the age of 55, had a long career in local government: first being elected in 1995, he had served as leader of Newark and Sherwood district council.  Crawford stood down from the council in 2007 but returned in 2011 and was leader of the council's Labour group.awkins who fought the Sherwood constituency in 2005.

Collingham and Meering
Parliamentary constituency: Newark
Nottinghamshire county council division: Collingham

Sara Chadd (UKIP)
David Clarke (Ind)
Kieran Owen (Lab)
Richard Shillito (C)

May 2013 by-election C 1112 Lab 370
May 2011 result C 1095/1092 LD 579
May 2007 result C 1057/1026 Ind 483 LD 463
May 2003 result C 994/977 LD 354 Lab 259

Ollerton
Parliamentary constituency: Sherwood
Nottinghamshire county council division: Ollerton

Mary Brown (C)
Moritz Dawkins (UKIP)
Michael Pringle (Lab)

May 2011 result Lab 1056/997/906 C 562/464 Ind 467/312
May 2007 result Lab 724/623/593 Ind 676 C 511/499
Jan 2006 by-election Lab unopposed
May 2003 result Lab 594/518/506 Ind 524/329 C 368ie wins the award for most imaginative Twitter profile of the week, describing himself as a "noted wit, academic, political thinker, and winner of the Year 1 Colouring Competition in 1993".  Lawrence Jennings doubles up as Lib Dem candidate for both by-elections, and the Green candidate for the city council is Richard Hunt.

Castle (county division)
James Bainbridge (C)
Neil Boothman (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Alan McGuckin (Lab)
John Stanyer (UKIP)

May 2013 result Lab 460 LD 263 UKIP 227 C 120 Grn 45 TUSC 20

Castle (district ward)
Robert Currie (C)
Richard Hunt (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Fiona Mills (UKIP)
Alan Taylor (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 435 UKIP 267 C 221 LD 127 Grn 87 TUSC 28
May 2012 result Lab 663 LD 229 C 165 Grn 110
March 2012 county council by-election Lab 407 LD 369 C 93 Grn 54 UKIP 22
May 2011 result Lab 549 LD 438 Grn 135 TUSC 90 BNP 84
May 2010 result LD 816 Lab 802 C 553 Grn 161
June 2009 county council result LD 424 Lab 297 C 241 Grn 144 BNP 129
March 2009 by-election LD 465 Lab 304 BNP 255 C 143 Grn 125
May 2008 result LD 562 Lab 299 C 206 Ind 202
May 2007 result LD 607 Lab 331 C 185
Feb 2007 county council by-election LD 653 Lab 222 C 117 Grn 29
May 2006 result LD 632 Lab 321 C 149 Ind 69
Nov 2005 by-election LD 538 Lab 370
May 2005 county council result LD 937 Lab 853 C 349
June 2004 result LD 917 Lab 541
May 2003 result LD 603 Lab 443
May 2002 result LD 549 Lab 373 C 195
June 2001 county council result LD 994 Lab 786 C 448
Apr 2001 by-election Lab 329 LD 294 C 258 Lib 67


COLLINGHAM AND MEERING, and OLLERTON, Newark and Sherwood district council, Nottinghamshire; caused respectively by the deaths of Conservative councillor Derek Evans and Labour councillor Stan Crawford.  Evans, a veteran member of Collingham parish council, had been a Newark councillor for only a year after winning a by-election in May 2013.  Crawford, a former miner whose death came at the age of 55, had a long career in local government: first being elected in 1995, he had served as leader of Newark and Sherwood district council.  Crawford stood down from the council in 2007 but returned in 2011 and was leader of the council's Labour group.

Although these two wards are in the same local government district, demographically they are chalk and cheese.  The Collingham and Meeting ward is an agricultural area covering eleven parishes on the east bank of the River Trent, on the A1133 Newark-Gainsborough road.  Collingham, a stop on the Newark-Lincoln railway line, is the largest parish of the ward and accounts for over half the electorate, while the parish of Meering, further downstream on the Trent, has a resident population of zero according to the 2011 census.

Ollerton, on the other hand, is a mining village on the A614 Nottingham-Doncaster road in the heart of the Dukeries and the Nottinghamshire coalfield, and one of relatively recent vintage: the colliery closed in 1994.  More recently the British Geological Survey has been concerned about the earth moving in the area, with 93 earthquakes having been recorded within a few miles' radius of Ollerton in the four months to mid-April 2014; none had a magnitude greater than 2 on the Richter scale and the geologists have put the activity down to continuing mineworking from the nearby Thoresby Colliery.

Back on the surface, the wards vote just like you might expect a strongly agricultural and an ex-coalmining area to vote: strongly Tory and strongly Labour respectively.  Labour actually won a by-election to Ollerton ward in January 2006 unopposed, although independent candidates can poll well in the ward and its three seats were split two to Labour and one to an independent from 2003 to 2011.  The last contest to either ward was the by-election to Collingham and Meering ward on county election day in 2013, in which Derek Evans beat the Labour candidate by 3 to 1 in a straight fight.

In those county elections, which saw Labour gain control of Nottinghamshire county council, Labour made the wider Ollerton division safe after a Tory near-miss in 2009, while the Tories actually lost the wider Collingham division to an independent.  However, despite that setback the Tory machine in Collingham is clearly in good working order, as was demonstrated a few weeks later by the party holding the Newark parliamentary by-election - the first time the Conservatives had successfully held a by-election while in government since the Thatcher years.  Ollerton did not vote in that by-election as is it part of the Sherwood constituency, a key Tory/Labour marginal.

The factfiles below show results going back to 2003; although Newark and Sherwood district was re-warded in 2007 (and will be again re-warded next year, the council having consistently failed to project future trends in the electorate), both Collingham and Meering, and Ollerton wards escaped the 2007 re-warding unchanged.

In Collingham and Meering the defending Tory candidate is Richard Shillito from Collingham, a former district councillor for the ward who stood down in 2003.  He faces opposition from Labour candidate Kieran Owen, UKIP's Sara Chadd (a local businesswoman) and independent David Clarke.

The Labour candidate to defend the Ollerton by-election is Mike Pringle, the present deputy mayor of Ollerton and Boughton; he runs a local burglar alarm company.  Standing against him are the Tories' Mary Brown, chair of the party's Sherwood branch, and the wonderfully-named UKIP candidate Moritz Dawkins who fought the Sherwood constituency in 2005.

Collingham and Meering
Parliamentary constituency: Newark
Nottinghamshire county council division: Collingham

Sara Chadd (UKIP)
David Clarke (Ind)
Kieran Owen (Lab)
Richard Shillito (C)

May 2013 by-election C 1112 Lab 370
May 2011 result C 1095/1092 LD 579
May 2007 result C 1057/1026 Ind 483 LD 463
May 2003 result C 994/977 LD 354 Lab 259

Ollerton
Parliamentary constituency: Sherwood
Nottinghamshire county council division: Ollerton

Mary Brown (C)
Moritz Dawkins (UKIP)
Michael Pringle (Lab)

May 2011 result Lab 1056/997/906 C 562/464 Ind 467/312
May 2007 result Lab 724/623/593 Ind 676 C 511/499
Jan 2006 by-election Lab unopposed
May 2003 result Lab 594/518/506 Ind 524/329 C 368

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