Thursday, 27 November 2014

By-election Previews: 27th November 2014

There are twelve by-elections on 27th November.  Nine will be covered in English Elections and three in Scottish Elections.  In Scotland there is a poll to the non-partisan Orkney islands council, while the SNP have chances to take a seat in northern Aberdeenshire off the Tories and a seat in Midlothian from Labour.  In England, Labour have three very safe seats to defend in one of the most notorious housing estates in Oxfordshire.  There are some interesting marginal wards up for election in rural Leicestershire and urban Middlesex, and a safe Tory defence in Huntingdonshire.   But we start in the East Riding with three by-elections: the Tories are defending two and the other seat is vacated by a party which you might have thought was long dead...

East Riding council
Caused by the deaths, respectively, of continuing SDP councillor Ray Allerston and Conservative councillors Doreen Engall and Angela Ibson.

Bridlington Old Town
Ray Allerston, who has died at the age of 80, is a former farmer and driver whose local government career started in 1987 on the now-abolished East Yorkshire district council; he had also served on Bridlington town council since its inception in 2000 and was Mayor of Bridlington in 2007-8.  Doreen Engall, whose death came at the age of 90, had an even longer local government career, beginning in 1976 on Holme-upon-Spalding Moor parish council; she was twice Mayor of the former Boothferry borough council, had served on the former Humberside county council and was a former chairman of Humberside Fire Authority (twice) and East Riding council.  Engall's long local government career was recognised in the 2013 Birthday Honours in which she was gazetted MBE.  Angela Ibson died at 70 while waiting for heart bypass surgery; she had served on East Riding council since 2007.

One county, three very different wards.  Starting off in Bridlington, the largest town in the East Riding, where the first thing you notice is that the SDP are the defending party.  Do not adjust your calendar.  We are definitely in November 2014; it's just that Bridlington is the last stronghold of the continuing SDP, still going twenty-four years after the second Bootle by-election of 1990 caused the national party to be wound up.  The rather misnamed Central and Old Town ward is nowhere near the seafront, consisting instead of Bridlington's north-west corner (the Old Town area) together with three rural parishes: Boynton, Grimdale, and Bempton on the north coast of Flamborough Head.  Its elections since 2003 have been dominated by Allerston who had a large personal vote, and the other parties often ran short slates in order that he was effectively unopposed; in 2011 the two non-SDP seats were shared by the Tories and Labour, making this ward a rare three-way split.

Howdenshire is a large and very rural ward aross the River Ouse from Goole, containing five railway stations, including the junction at Gilberdyke, and the North Cave junction where the M62 Transpennine motorway runs out of steam several miles short of Hull.  It's traditionally been a safe Tory ward, but a by-election in May 2013 (caused by one of the other Tory councillors becoming deputy police and crime commissioner for Humberside) saw UKIP poll 35% and turn the ward into a Tory/UKIP marginal.

Different yet again is Willerby and Kirk Ella ward, an affluent suburb of Hull which has not yet been annexed by the city.  This was a Tory/Lib Dem marginal during the last Labour administration; the Lib Dems narrowly won all three seats in 2003.  The Tories gained the ward from the Lib Dems in 2007 but then lost a seat in a farcical by-election on general election day in 2010 after messing up their nomination and failing to get on the ballot: the by-election ended up as a straight fight between the Lib Dems and Labour with the Lib Dems winning by 4:1.  The Tories pulled away in 2011 and made the ward safe.

In what may represent the final death of the continuing SDP, they have not nominated a candidate to replace Ray Allerston, so Bridlington Central and Old Town is an open seat.  The Tories have nominated John Copsey, the deputy Mayor of Bridlington.  There is no Labour candidate even though they hold one of the council seats in the ward; however, Liam Dealtry, one of the three independent candidates, was on the Labour slate here in 2011.  The other independents are Terry Dixon, who was Mayor of Bridlington in 2013-14, and Neil Tate, while town councillor Malcolm Milns completes the balot paper for UKIP.

Three candidates have been nominated for Howdenshire: Nigel Wilkinson, a business advisor from Newland near Goole, for the Conservatives; Beverley resident Clive Waddington for UKIP; and Cottingham resident Danny Marten, who fought the parliamentary seat (Haltemprice and Howden) in 2010, for Labour.

Willerby and Kirk Ella is also a three way fight involving the same parties.  Local campaigner Mick Burchill defends for the Tories.  The Lib Dems appear to have thrown in the towel.   Labour's candidate is Daniel Palmer and UKIP's is Robert Skinner.

Bridlington Central and Old Town
Parliamentary constituency: East Yorkshire
ONS Travel to Work Area: Bridlington and Driffield

John Copsey (C)
Liam Dealtry (Ind)
Terry Dixon (Ind)
Malcolm Milns (UKIP)
Neil Tate (Ind)

May 2011 result SDP 1167/497 C 903/685 Lab 864/644 LD 173
May 2007 result SDP 1404/709 C 982 BNP 554 LD 435 Lab 413
May 2003 result SDP 1491/1394 Lab 466/332 C 442/396 Ind 295 LD 120/112

Parliamentary constituency: Haltemprice and Howden
ONS Travel to Work Area: Hull (part), York (part)

Danny Marten (Lab)
Clive Waddington (UKIP)
Nigel Wilkinson (C)

May 2013 by-election C 1573 UKIP 1260 Lab 563 LD 212
May 2011 result C 2640/2347/2212 Ind 1013/326 East Yorkshire Inds 925 Lab 915/811/754 LD 421/386/353
May 2007 result C 2638/2631/2507 LD 1282/784/720 Ind 1109/592 Lab 363/345
May 2003 result C 2023/2001/1993 LD 1494/1474/1389 Lab 360 Ind 291

Willerby and Kirk Ella
Parliamentary constituency: Haltemprice and Howden
ONS Travel to Work Area: Hull

Mike Burchill (C)
Daniel Palmer (Lab)
Robert Skinner (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 2300/2163/2039 LD 1476/1443/1324 Lab 801/705/682 EDP 403/387/318
May 2010 by-election LD 5107 Lab 1298
May 2007 result C 2626/2551/2550 LD 2227/2160/2115 Lab 259/207/205
May 2003 result LD 2114/1991/1972 C 1961/1901/1733 Ind 578 Lab 313/288

Melton district council, Leicestershire
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Trevor Moncrieff at the age of 66.  Moncrieff was in his first term as district councillor for Asfordby, and had served as leader of the Labour group on Melton council.

Main Street, Asfordby
This ward covers the village of Asfordby, just to the west of Melton Mowbray on the north bank of the River Wreake.  It's a surprisingly industrial village, with a modern deep coal pit having operated here in the 1980s and 1990s, and today it's known for the Old Dalby Test Track; located on the route of the old railway line from Melton to Nottingham, this is a private railway used by London Underground and the UK's train companies for testing new train designs.

The industrial legacy is reflected in the fact that Labour are the best-organised party here, although they lost the ward's two seats in 2007 to a Tory candidate (who was in fact one of the outgoing Labour councillors) and an independent.  Labour regained the Independent seat at the 2011 election, the Tory councillor being re-elected at the top of the poll.  While this ward is most definitely marginal, the wider Asfordby county division (which covers a huge swathe of countryside to the west of Melton) voted 79% Tory in 2013 in a straight fight with Labour, and this gives you a taste of the wider nature of Melton council and the local parliamentary seat (Rutland and Melton).

The defending Labour candidate is Michael Blase, a design engineer from Melton Mowbray.  The Tories, bidding to hold two seats in the ward for the first time this century, have nominated Ronnie de Burle who has lived in Asfordby for 45 years.  Completing the ballot paper is the ward's first UKIP candidate, Sacha Barnes.

Parliamentary constituency: Rutland and Melton
Leicestershire county council division: Asfordby
ONS Travel to Work Area: Leicester

Sacha Barnes (UKIP)
Michael Blase (Lab)
Ronnie de Burle (C)

May 2011 result C 470 Lab 420/394 Ind 342
May 2007 result C 448 Ind 383 Lab 378/237
May 2003 result Lab 431/396 Ind 269 C 217

Oxford city council; and
Oxfordshire county council
Caused by the resignations of Labour councillors Val Smith, who was county councillor for Leys and city councillor for Blackbird Leys, due to ill-health; and Steve Curran, city councillor for Northfield Brook, who has resigned in order to stand for the county council by-election.  Val Smith is the wife of Andrew Smith, the Labour MP for Oxford East.

Evenlode Tower, Blackbird Leys
What is going on in Oxford at the moment?  These are the fourth, fifth and sixth council by-elections in the city since July.

The Leys county division can be found at the very south-east corner of Oxford.  It covers the parish of Blackbird Leys, named after the 1950s and 1960s housing estate of the same name which has become notorious for its deprivation and high crime rate.  Newly drawn for the 2013 county elections, Leys division covers two wards of Oxford city council: Blackbird Leys itself, and Northfield Brook, which covers the area to the south-west of the division around the stream of the same name.

During most of the Noughties, this strongly left-wing ward was closely fought between Labour and the Independent Working Class Association, who won one of the two seats in Northfield Brook at the 2002 election.  In 2004 the IWCA held that seat and gained Blackbird Leys ward, and they gained the second seatin Northfield Brook from Labour in 2006; in the interim Labour held by-elections in both wards in 2005.  Labour regained the IWCA seats in 2008 (in Blackbird Leys) and in 2010 and 2012 (in Northfield Brook), and the IWCA now appear to have folded as an electoral force.  In their absence Labour polled 82% of the vote in Leys in the 2013 county election, and in the 2012 city council elections Labour had 85% in Blackbird Leys and 74% in Northfield Brook.  In 2014 Northfield Brook was the safer Labour ward because UKIP fought Blackbird Leys and polled 21%.  Val Smith's resignation gave the ruling Conservatives half the seats on Oxfordshire county council, and in the unlikely event of a Tory gain in the county by-election they will have a majority.  There are no implications for control of Oxford city council, where Labour have a large majority.

The Leys county division is defended, as stated above, by Labour's Steve Curran, who gained Northfield Brook ward from the IWCA in 2012.  He is opposed by Samuel Burgess (C), Ann Duncan (Grn), Lesley Mallinder (LD), James Morbin (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) and Dave Slater (UKIP).

Curran leaves behind a city council seat in Northfield Brook which Sian Taylor (Lab), an NHS nurse of 30 years' service, is favourite to win against opposition from Gary Dixon (C), Ann Duncan (Grn), Michael Tait (LD) and James Morbin (TUSC).  In the Blackbird Leys by-election Labour's Linda Smith, the wife of prominent left-wing blogger and former Labour NEC member Luke Akehurst, seeks to return to local government having recently moved to Oxford after twelve years as a Hackney councillor in London; she takes on Dave Slater (UKIP), Berk Bektas (C), Elizabeth McHale (Grn), Lesley Mallinder (LD) and Stella Collier (TUSC).

Parliamentary constituency: Oxford East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Oxford

Samuel Burgess (C)
Steve Curran (Lab)
Ann Duncan (Grn)
Lesley Mallinder (LD)
James Morbin (TUSC)
Dave Slater (UKIP)

May 2013 result Lab 1249 C 116 Grn 114 LD 53

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

Berk Bektas (C)
Stella Collier (TUSC)
Lesley Mallinder (LD)
Elizabeth McHale (Grn)Riverside, St Neots
Dave Slater (UKIP)
Linda Smith (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 642 UKIP 196 C 54 Grn 43 LD 19
May 2012 result Lab 737 C 54 Grn 40 LD 32
May 2010 result Lab 1510 C 299 LD 270 Grn 93
May 2008 result Lab 647 IWCA 417 C 79 Grn 28 LD 20
May 2006 result Lab 579 IWCA 519 LD 69 Grn 29
May 2005 by-election Lab 969 IWCA 566 C 176 LD 172 Grn 54
June 2004 result IWCA 494 Lab 415 LD 92 C 91 Grn 36
May 2002 result Lab 633/438 IWCA 197 C 111 LD 34/19 SocAll 33 Grn 22/18

Northfield Brook
Parliamentary constituency: Oxford East
Oxfordshire county council division: Leys
ONS Travel to Work Area: Oxford

Gary Dixon (C)
Ann Duncan (Grn)
James Morbin (TUSC)
Michael Tait (LD)
Sian Taylor (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 700 C 112 Grn 111 LD 55
May 2012 result Lab 564 Grn 73 LD 68 C 61
May 2010 result Lab 1264 LD 503 C 419 Grn 140
May 2008 result IWCA 537 Lab 471 C 78 LD 56 Grn 44
May 2006 result IWCA 620 Lab 502 LD 91 Grn 62
July 2005 by-election Lab 592 IWCA 300 LD 141 C 31 Grn 19
June 2004 result IWCA 555 Lab 439 C 90 LD 89 Grn 61
May 2002 result Lab 406/308 IWCA 354/328 LD 70/59 Grn 44/38

London borough of Hillingdon, North London
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor David Horne due to ill-health.  Horne was a long-serving councillor but had only returned to Hillingdon council in May, having lost his seat for this ward in 2006.

Hewens Road, Hayes End
This ward is in suburban northern Hayes, to the north of the Uxbridge Road; it includes the Hayes End and Hillingdon Heath areas, and is named after Charville Lane in the north of the ward.  At the centre of the ward can be found the headquarters of United Biscuits, owner of brands including Jacob's and McVities, which was sold this month to a Turkish company.  United Biscuits' internal radio launched the careers of some well-known DJs including Dale Winton, and indeed Hayes has many links to film and entertainment generally; scenes for the recent horror film World War Z were filmed in this ward.  I hasten to add that the ward is not populated by zombies.

This is a socially divided ward, with Hayes End being more upmarket than the rest of the area; other highlights from the 2011 census show that this was in the top 100 most Sikh wards in England and only just outside the top 100 for Hindus.  The social division comes through in the ward's election results in which this is a crucial Labour/Tory marginal.  Labour won all three seats in 2002; the Tories gained two seats in 2006; the 2010 split remained 1 Labour and 2 Conservative; while Labour (David Horne) knocked one of the Conservatives out by 14 votes in last May's ordinary election to make the split 2 Labour and 1 Conservative.  At the last GLA elections in 2012 Boris beat Ken 50-39 in the ward's ballot boxes, but in the list vote Labour were on top with 42%, to 35% for the Tories and 8% for UKIP.  There does appear to be a populist right-wing vote in the ward; the BNP were in third place here in 2010 and last May UKIP polled 22% of the vote.  With the Kippers riding high in the polls this may be one to watch; there are not many wards in Greater London which are as favourable for them.  There are no implications for control of Hillingdon council, which has a large Conservative majority, while the local parliamentary seat (Hayes and Harlington) is safe for Labour.

Defending for Labour is John Oswell, a former long-serving councillor for Pinkwell ward in Hayes who stood down from the council in 2010; in May he fought the similarly-marginal Yiewsley ward.  The Tories have selected former Mayor of Hillindgon Mary O'Connor, who lost her seat in this ward in May's ordinary election by just 14 votes.  UKIP have reselected their May candidate Cliff Dixon; also the chair of Hillingdon UKIP and PPC for Hayes and Harlington, Dixon atracted some adverse publicity last year over alleged links to the English Defence League.  Also on the ballot are Wally Kennedy for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Paul McKeown for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Hayes and Harlington
GLA constituency: Ealing and Hillingdon
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Cliff Dixon (UKIP)
Wally Kennedy (TUSC)
Paul McKeown (LD)
Mary O'Connor (C)
John Oswell (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 1572/1368/1276 C 1409/1354/1201 UKIP 1004 Grn 381 TUSC 132
May 2010 result Lab 2479/2223/2176 C 2336/2296/2127 BNP 618 LD 541/527/444
May 2006 result C 1565/1376/1256 Lab 1426/1329/1320 LD 556/425
May 2002 result Lab 1391/1344/1297 C 1087/1082/1027 BNP 301 LD 244/203/168 Grn 168

May 2012 GLA results (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Boris 1215 Ken 945 UKIP 97 BNP 57 Ind 51 LD 47 Grn 38
London Member: Lab 1039 C 856 UKIP 196 BNP 96 LD 71 Grn 67 EDP 51 CPA 46 NF 27 Alagaratnam 13 Hayat 8 TUSC 7 House Party 2

Huntingdonshire district council, Cambridgeshire
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Paula Longford.

Riverside, St Neots
This ward covers the town centre and north-east of St Neots.  Named after St Neots Priory, an early Norman Benedictine foundation, this is a mediaeval town which has grown rapidly since the Second World War thanks to its location on the Great North Road and the East Coast Main Line, which led to the development of London overspill housing in the town.  The population growth is such that St Neots has overtaken Huntingdon to become Cambridgeshire's largest town (as opposed to city, which Cambridge and Peterborough both are).  The Priory Park ward is centred on St Neots railway station, and includes the Love's Farm housing estate to the east of the station.

The present Priory Park ward was created in 2004, in which year it elected two Conservatives with a comfortable majority over the Lib Dems.  However, the Lib Dems gained the two seats in the ward at the 2006 and 2007 elections, defeating Longford in 2007 by a majority of just 16 votes.  The Lib Dem strentgh then disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and the Tories got their seats back in 2010 and 2011; there was no Lib Dem candidate in May and UKIP took over second place, polling 27% to 48% for the Tories and 15% for Labour.

The defending Tory candidate is town councillor Ian Gardener.  UKIP's Carol Gamby has been reselected after fighting the ward in May, and Labour's Angela Hogan completes the ballot paper.  Whoever wins this by-election will be straight back on the campaign trail, as they will be up for re-election in May.

Parliamentary constituency: Huntingdon
Cambridgeshire county council division: Little Paxton and St Neots North (part: west of ECML); Buckden, Gransden and The Offords (part: east of ECML)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Huntingdon

Carol Gamby (UKIP)
Ian Gardener (C)
Angela Hogan (Lab)

May 2014 result C 1048 UKIP 580 Lab 321 Grn 215
May 2011 result C 1204 LD 582 Lab 371
May 2010 result C 1625 LD 1322 Lab 341
May 2007 result LD 742 C 726 Lab 96
May 2006 result LD 870 C 619 Lab 124
June 2004 result C 930/878 LD 550/528 Lab 178

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