Wednesday, 12 November 2014

By-election Previews: 13 November 2014

Derbyshire county council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Martin Tomlinson due to personal and professional commitments.

Crich Tramway Village
This not-particularly-cohesive county division covers the whole of the western edge of Amber Valley district.  At the southern end is the village of Kirk Langley on the A52 Derby-Ashbourne road.  At the nothern end is Crich, a village which is known for the National Tramway Museum and as the location for the 1990s ITV drama Peak Practice.  Below Crich is the Derwent Valley, a World Heritage Site, and the intriguingly-named village of Whatstandwell.  While the division have a generally rural profile, it does also include one of the four wards covering the town of Belper.

Alport and Derwent has been a safe Conservative division for the last decade, although Derbyshire was redistricted in 2013 and the previous division of this name covered a rather different area.  At the most recent county election UKIP were in second place, narrowly ahead of Labour.  The division covers three whole wards of Amber Valley district (Alport, Belper North and Crich) and part of a fourth ward (South West Parishes), all of which returned Conservative councillors at the last election in 2011 or 2012; in 2011 the Tories were unopposed in South West Parishes ward.

The defending Conservative candidate is David Taylor, district councillor for Alport ward; he lives within that ward in Idridgehay (wonderfully, his house is called "Wits End").  He is opposed by UKIP's David Fisher, a Belper town councillor, and Labour's Mike Ratcliffe, a district and town councillor for the nearby town of Wirksworth.

Parliamentary constituency: Derbyshire Dales (Alport and Crich wards and part of South West Parishes ward), Mid Derbyshire (Belper North ward)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Matlock (Alport and Crich wards), Derby (Belper North ward and part of South West Parishes ward)

David Fisher (UKIP)
Mike Ratcliffe (Lab)
David Taylor (C)

May 2013 result C 1558 UKIP 936 Lab 894 LD 295

Mid Sussex district council, West Sussex
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Sue Seward.

"The Street", Bolney
Another non-cohesive rural ward, Bolney ward covers a series of villages off the A23 London-Brighton road to the west of Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill.  Bolney itself lies at the centre of the ward, which also includes Warninglid to the north and Albourne to the south.  The ward boundary is drawn in such a way that there is no road between Albourne and the rest of the ward which does not pass through neighbouring wards.

This is a super-safe Conservative ward: at the most recent election in 2011 Seward polled two-thirds of the vote against Lib Dem and UKIP opposition.  The ward is also part of a very safe Tory county council division (Hurstpierpoint and Bolney).

Defending for the Tories is John Allen, of Bolney, who is opposed by the Lib Dems' Simon Hicks and UKIP's Anthony Williams.

Parliamentary constituency: Mid Sussex
West Sussex county council division: Hurstpierpoint and Bolney
ONS Travel to Work Area: Crawley

John Allen (C)
Simon Hicks (LD)
Anthony Williams (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 745 LD 217 UKIP 148
May 2007 result C 577 LD 179 UKIP 116
May 2003 result C 603 LD 112 Lab 59 Loony 36

Dartford borough council, Kent
Caused respectively by the deaths of Conservative councillor Nancy Wightman and Labour councillor John Muckle.  Muckle, who died at the age of 81, was one of the few remaining people who had been councillors since before the reorganisation of 1974, having been first elected in the late 1960s.  Muckle was the last Mayor of Dartford before reorganisation, and served as leader of the modern Dartford council from 1998 to 2003.  His legacy will be many regeneration projects, most prominently the Bluewater shopping centre just outside Dartford.  Wightman had served on Dartford council since 2003.

Dartford Railway Station
These two wards are both within the Kent town of Dartford.  Littlebrook ward is in the north-east of the town, lying on the waterfront to the north-east of Dartford railway station; it includes the oil-fired Littlebrook power station (the large building on the right-hand side as you pass over the Dartford Bridge) together with part of the toll plaza for the Dartford Crossing.  The queues generated by the tolls are legendary, but may ease in future; at the end of this month an electronic charging scheme is to be introduced, similar to the London congestion charge, and the tollbooths removed.  Perhaps good news for Brent ward, which is in the south-east of Dartford town to the south of Watling Street, centred on junction 1B of the M25.

Littlebrook ward had a weird result in 2003, electing one Labour candidate and one of only two successful candidates from the New England Party, a nationalist outfit which then merged with the English Democrats.  Labour gained the second seat from the English Democrats in 2007 and consolidated their majority in 2011.  The English Democrats have been traditionally been very active in Dartford, but their local prime mover Steve Uncles is having legal problems at the moment: he is awaiting trial on charges of fraud, related to allegedly non-existent English Democrat candidates in the 2013 Kent county council election.

Brent ward was close between the Tories and Labour in 2003 but the Conservatives have pulled away since then.  Both wards form part of marginal county council divisions and the marginal Dartford constituency, so while these wards are safe on paper the vote shares will be watched closely to see what they augur for the general election in less than six months' time.

In Brent ward the Conservatives have selected Rosanna Currans, who lost a by-election to Labour in the neighbouring Newtown ward last year; Newtown is a marginal and she should have an easier ride here.  Labour are standing Mark Maddison, who works for a local housing association, while the ward's first UKIP candidate is Shan-e-din Choycha, who works for a local taxi firm.

The Littlebrook by-election will feature Daisy Page as the defending Labour candidate.  The Tories have selected Calvin McLean and UKIP's candidate is Sonia Keane.

Parliamentary constituency: Dartford
Kent county council division: Dartford East
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Shan-e-din Choycha (UKIP)
Rosanna Currans (C)
Mark Maddison (Lab)

May 2011 result C 1152/1129/1115 Lab 779/638/616 EDP 252/211/193
May 2007 result C 905/902/874 Lab 707/661/646 EDP 341/331/315 UKIP 136
May 2003 result C 800/781/779 Lab 712/679/678 UKIP 205

Parliamentary constituency: Dartford
Kent county council division: Dartford North East
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Sonia Keane (UKIP)
Calvin McLean (C)
Daisy Page (Lab)

May 2011 result Lab 585/504 C 256/233 EDP 226
May 2007 result Lab 425/391 EDP 330/264 C 166/138
May 2003 result Lab 321/271 New England Party 276 C 131/123 UKIP 117/88 LD 85

Wokingham council, Berkshire
Caused by the disqualification of former Liberal Democrat councillor Lesley Hayward who has been sentenced to four months in prison, suspended, for benefit fraud.

Shepherd's Hill, Earley
The rather confusing name of this ward, and its location within the Wokingham council area, hide the fact that this ward is in fact Reading suburbia.  The area covered by the ward runs from the banks of the Thames, through part of the new Thames Valley Business Park, then into the Whitegates area (part of Earley parish), past Bulmershe Park and the Bulmershe School to run into the centre of the Reading suburb of Woodley.

Over the last decade this ward has developed from a safe Lib Dem area into an intriguing three-way marginal, which was won by the Conservatives in 2011 with the Lib Dems second, by the Lib Dems in 2012 with Labour second, and by Labour in 2014 with the Conservatives second.

The Lib Dem vote crashed here in May and they will have an uphill struggle to defend this seat.  That job falls to Munir Ahmed, who represents the Whitegates half of the ward on Earley town council.  Labour have selected Greg Bello, who has fought the ward several times before and was runner-up in 2012.  The Tory candidate is Alison Swaddle who fought the ward in 2007; she is a director of a communications company.  UKIP's Peter Jackson and the Greens' Adrian Windisch complete the ballot paper; they both stood here in May.

Parliamentary constituency: Reading East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Reading and Bracknell

Munir Ahmed (LD)
Greg Bello (Lab)
Peter Jackson (UKIP)
Alison Swaddle (C)
Adrian Windisch (Grn)

May 2014 result Lab 967 C 760 LD 499 UKIP 423 Grn 173
May 2012 result LD 976 Lab 750 C 660 UKIP 137 Grn 106
May 2011 result C 1154 LD 1050 Lab 661 UKIP 176 Grn 121
May 2010 result LD 1742 C 1615 Lab 877 UKIP 214 Grn 127
May 2008 result LD 1168 C 944 Lab 345 UKIP 131
May 2007 result LD 1207 C 703 Lab 337 UKIP 125
May 2006 result LD 999 C 727 Lab 338 UKIP 216
June 2004 result LD 1167/1158/1089 C 736/691/688 Lab 338/334/329

Wigan metropolitan borough council, Greater Manchester
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Joy Birch, who has been the subject of allegations that she is living in Ireland.

Wigan Pier
This ward is inner western Wigan, downhill from North Western station.  The ward is named after the River Douglas, an river which meanders around industrial south Lancashire before emptying into the Ribble estuary.  Here can be found the DW Stadium, home of Wigan Athletic FC and Wigan rugby league, and the only-slightly-fictional Wigan Pier on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Douglas has returned Labour councillors throughout the last decade, mostly with few problems although the 2004 result was quite close between Labour and the localist group Community Action.  Community Action have faded in recent years - they lost their last Wigan council seat in 2012 - and UKIP took over second place in May's ordinary election.

Defending for Labour is Maggie Skilling, a former Lancashire county councillor and West Lancashire district councillor from Skelmersdale, who now lives in Wigan.  UKIP and the Tories have reselected their candidates from May, Derek Wilkes and Margaret Atherton respectively.  Also on the ballot paper are the Greens' Damien Hendry and Community Action's Michael Moulding.

Parliamentary constituency: Wigan
ONS Travel to Work Area: Warrington and Wigan

Margaret Atherton (C)
Damien Hendry (Grn)
Michael Moulding (CA)
Maggie Skilling (Lab)
Derek Wilkes (UKIP)

May 2014 result Lab 1502 UKIP 790 C 210
May 2012 result Lab 1774 Ind 324 C 172
May 2011 result Lab 1867 Ind 393 C 321
May 2010 result Lab 2742 C 659 BNP 461 CA 396 Ind 380
May 2008 result Lab 1170 CA 745 C 350
May 2007 result Lab 1338 CA 586 C 374
May 2006 result Lab 1369 CA 933
June 2004 result Lab 1427/1347/1318 CA 1296/1287/1223

Cambridge city council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Sue Birtles who has fallen out with the Labour group.

Addenbrooke's Hospital
Covering the south-eastern corner of the city of Cambridge, Queen Edith's ward is based around the sprawling Addenbrooke's Hospital, one of the world's premier teaching hospitals and a pioneer in transplant surgery.  The presence of Homerton College within the ward boundaries means that there is a significant student population, but this is generally one of the more prosperous wards within the city.

The Queen Edith's ward was created in 1976 and modified in 2004.  It elected Conservative councillors continuously until the 1990s (except for an SDP win in the 1985 county council election) but the last Tory win here was in 1996 and the ward had elected Lib Dem councillors continuously since then; until 2012 when Labour unexpectedly came from third place to win Queen Edith's ward for the first time.  The Lib Dem vote has recovered since then in the 2013 county council elections (Cambridge's wards and county divisions have the same boundaries) and in last year's city council election, suggesting that the Labour win in 2012 may have been a freak.  The ward is one of two Cambridge wards to fall within the safe Conservative South Cambridgeshire parliamentary seat.

The defending Labour candidate is Rahima Ahammed, a Home Office interpreter.  The Lib Dems want their seat back, and have selected Addenbrooke's worker Viki Sanders, who served one term as a city councillor for this ward from 2007 to 2011.  Also standing are the Tories' Andrew Bower and the Greens' Joel Chalfen.

Parliamentary constituency: South Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire county council division: Queen Edith's
ONS Travel to Work Area: Cambridge

Rahima Ahammed (Lab)
Andrew Bower (C)
Joel Chalfen (Grn)
Viki Sanders (LD)

May 2014 result LD 1362 Lab 951 C 522 Grn 363
May 2013 county council result LD 1188 Lab 931 C 361 Grn 172
May 2012 result Lab 1084 LD 963 C 513 Grn 172
May 2011 result LD 1318 C 830 Lab 642 Grn 416
May 2010 result LD 2129 C 1221 Lab 541 Grn 334 UKIP 122
June 2009 county council result LD 1521 C 651 Grn 329 Lab 199
May 2008 result LD 1250 C 838 Lab 233 Grn 183
May 2007 result LD 1364 C 760 Lab 221 Grn 210
May 2006 result LD 1489 C 735 Lab 219 Grn 181
May 2005 county council result LD 2392 C 848 Lab 574 Grn 225
June 2004 result LD 1671/1591/1566 C 653/550/531 Grn 337 Lab 277/256/211 UKIP 206

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