Thursday, 18 December 2014

By-election Previews: 18th December 2014

Winding down for the end of 2014, there are two by-elections in the week before Christmas, both in England.  A further by-election was scheduled in north Wales, but has been held by Plaid Cymru unopposed; that by-election is therefore not being previewed.

Nottinghamshire county council
Caused by the death of Labour county councillor Stella Smedley at the age of 71.  Smedley was the last member still serving from the Nottinghamshire council elected in 1977, and in her 37 years on the county council had held a number of important positions, including as deputy leader from 1981 to 1985; she was also chairman of the council in 1998-99 and was appointed MBE in 2010 for services to the community.

Station Road, Ollerton
This division lies in the heart of the Nottinghamshire coalfield and the Dukeries area, centred on the villages of Ollerton and New Ollerton.  The colliery here is of quite recent vintage, surviving until 1994.  The area has a propensity to earthquakes, but of the physical rather than the political variety: in a preview for a district council by-election here I wrote that 93 earthquakes had been recorded with a few miles' radius of Ollerton in the four months to mid-April 2014, which the British Geological Survey had put down to continuing coalmining in the area.  The week after that by-election took place, I was in a second-hand bookshop which was offering for sale a 1970s-vintage geological survey of the Ollerton area, so clearly this has been a problem for a while.

As stated, Smedley had been the county councillor here for decades.  In 2005 she was re-elected unopposed, but was run close by the Conservatives in the Labour nadir of 2009, before increasing her majority from 6 points to 36 at her final re-election in 2013.  Labour easily won all five district council seats within the division in 2011, gaining two seats from independent councillors, and had no problem holding a district council by-election in Ollerton ward in September this year.  While this is a safe Labour area, the vote shares will be closely watched as an indicator for the forthcoming general election: the division forms part of the key marginal constituency of Sherwood.

Defending for Labour is Mike Pringle, deputy mayor of Ollerton and Boughton and, since winning the September by-election, Newark and Sherwood district councillor for Ollerton ward; he runs a burglar alarm company.  He will be opposed for the vacancy by the Tories' Ben Bradley, UKIP's Colin Hart and the Lib Dems' Marylyn Rayner.

Parliamentary constituency: Sherwood
Newark and Sherwood district council wards: Boughton, Ollerton
ONS Travel to Work Area: Mansfield

Ben Bradley (C)
Colin Hart (UKIP)
Michael Pringle (Lab)
Marylyn Rayner (LD)

May 2013 result Lab 1603 C 594 UKIP 549
June 2009 result Lab 1202 C 1042 Ind 716
May 2005 result Lab unopposed

London Borough of Kingston upon Thames
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Howard Jones at the age of 71.  A former Scotland Yard detective, Jones was first elected in 2002 and led the Conservative group on Kingston council from 2006 until the May election, in which he masterminded the Conservatives' return to overall control of Kingston after twenty years of Lib Dem rule.

St James's Parish Church, New Malden
Here we are in south-west London back in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, which is having a rash of local by-elections at the moment: of the twelve previous local by-elections in the Royal Borough since 1996, seven have come since September 2011 and this will be the second poll since the last ordinary election in May.  The St James ward can be found in southern New Malden, centred on the Malden Junction at which the Kingston-Sutton road crosses the Kingston bypass.  New Malden is a commuter area with the interesting feature of a very high Korean population, many of whom work in the City for Korean companies; the Korean diet is such that Tesco sell more fruit and vegetables per customer in New Malden than anywhere else.  Most of the resident Koreans, of course, won't be eligible to vote in this by-election.

After the ward's three seats split between the Tories and Lib Dems in 2002, the Conservatives have pulled away and made this ward safe: in May they polled 38%, to 22% for the Lib Dems, 18% for Labour and 12% for UKIP.  The London Assembly election of 2012 saw the ward's ballot boxes vote 41% for Tories, 26% to Labour and 10% for the Lib Dems, while Boris beat Ken here that year 53-30.

Defending for the Conservatives is Jack Cheetham, a small business owner who is contesting his home ward after narrowly missing out in a Surbiton ward in May.  The Lib Dem candidate is Annette Wookey, while Labour have selected accountant Stephen Dunkling and UKIP's nominee is Ben Roberts, who came fourth in the last Kingston by-election in Tudor ward in October.  The ballot paper is completed by Alex Nelson, standing for the Green Party.

After this week the only remaining Thursday is Christmas Day, so these are the last acts of the 2014 electoral year.  Many thanks to Sid, Doris and anybody else who may have stumbled across this column over the last twelve months: I hope that you were illuminated as to the electoral process in the UK, learned many interesting facts and were amused by the occasional error which may have crept in.  This column now has a well-earned month off, but shall return in time for the first by-election of 2015, which will be held in Crowborough, East Sussex on Thursday 22nd January: until then, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a New Year that's better than the year just gone.

Parliamentary constituency: Kingston and Surbiton
GLA constituency: South West
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Jack Cheetham (C)
Stephen Dunkling (Lab)
Alex Nelson (Grn)
Ben Roberts (UKIP)
Annette Wookey (LD)

May 2014 result C 1250/1188/1082 LD 729/719/696 Lab 598/494/485 UKIP 386/361 Grn 212 BNP 100 TUSC 34
May 2010 result C 2008/1948/1679 LD 1549/1502/1280 Lab 885/516/513 Grn 342 UKIP 259 Christian Peoples Alliance 184
May 2006 result C 1689/1603/1580 LD 773/732/704 Lab 316/301/258 Christian Peoples Alliance 103/83
May 2002 result C 1087/1021/918 LD 937/889/871 Lab 239/180/161 Christian Peoples Alliance 118

May 2012 GLA results (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Boris 1106 Ken 531 Ind 124 LD 81 UKIP 50 Grn 46 BNP 33
London Members: C 807 Lab 512 LD 199 UKIP 128 Grn 111 CPA 62 BNP 58 Alagaratnam 38 EDP 25 TUSC 11 Hayat 11 House Party 6 NF 5

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

By-election Previews: 11th December 2014

With eleven by-elections to cover this week, there is a certain lack of detail in this week's previews.  Nonetheless, here on English Elections there is a good selection of by-elections.  In the North, Labour are defending a super-safe seat in Widnes; in the Midlands the Tories have a seat to defend in the Nottingham suburbs and there is an independent-held county council seat up for election in Stamford, Lincolnshire; while in the south the Tories have seats to defend in Berkshire and Hampshire plus Labour and Lib Dem defences in Aylesbury.  Welsh Elections takes us to rural Carmarthenshire, and Scottish Elections brings news of polls in the cathedral city of Elgin and at completely the opposite end of the Highlands.  But in a week where the Tories are defending a by-election in the Home Secretary's constituency, we start with a tale of terrorism from a much earlier age...

Sunderland city council, Tyne and Wear
Caused by the resignation of a Labour councillor Neville Padgett, ostensibly on health grounds although he had also been the subject of recent adverse publicity over his council expenses.

"Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
An' aa'll tell ye all an aaful story.
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
An' aa'll tell ye 'boot the worm."

We come to the New Town of Washington, County Durham, as my grandma (who was born there) always called it.  The Washington East ward consists of several disconnected residential areas overlooking the River Wear on the north side, together with Mount Pleasant on the south side of the river.  In folklore this area was terrorised by the Lambton Worm, as told in a song well-known across the North East.

It says something for how far Labour sunk during the Brown administration that this ward was won by the Tories three times: the 2007 and 2008 ordinary elections and a September 2007 by-election.  Labour have reasserted their dominance since then, and in May's ordinary election UKIP narrowly took over second place from the Tories (Lab 41% UKIP 26% C 25%).

This by-election will be defended for Labour by Tony Taylor, who is opposed by UKIP's Alistair Baxter and the Tories' Hilary Johnson; also standing are Stephen O'Brien for the Lib Dems and Tony Murphy for the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Washington and Sunderland West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Sunderland

Alistair Baxter (UKIP)
Hilary Johnson (C)
Tony Murphy (Grn)
Stephen O'Brien (LD)
Tony Taylor (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 1254 UKIP 792 C 767 LD 145 TUSC 75
May 2012 result Lab 1721 C 735 UKIP 316 Grn 156 LD 119
May 2011 result Lab 1935 C 1201 UKIP 255 LD 201
May 2010 result Lab 2378 C 1681 LD 990 BNP 240
May 2008 result C 1384 Lab 1291 LD 401 BNP 130
Sept 2007 C 1196 Lab 994 LD 206
May 2007 result C 1245 Lab 1220 LD 441 BNP 195
May 2006 result Lab 1103 C 1005 LD 487 BNP 286
June 2004 result Lab 1445/1360/1284 C 882/727/657 LD 821 BNP 322

Broxtowe borough council, Nottinghamshire
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Marilyn Hegyi.  A Broxtowe councillor since winning a 2009 by-election, Hegyi's greatest achievement as a councillor was probably to get Toton officially recognised by Royal Mail.

Toton Sidings
This is a middle-class Nottingham suburb, but its demography belies an industrial past: Toton is a railway town and the site of what was once Europe's largest railway marshalling yard, which took in coal from the Nottinghamshire coalfield and sorted it for distribution all over the UK.  The marshalling yard is still there although it's a lot less busy than it used to be, while there is an intriguing possible future development: if High Speed 2 gets off the ground, its East Midlands station could be sited here.

Toton and Chilwell Meadows seems to have a high councillor attrition rate: this is the ward's third by-election in just over five years, and the second by-election in the ward this term.  The last by-election, in March 2012, was a very easy Tory hold, the party polling 48% against evenly divided opposition.  Their candidate to defend this by-election is counsellor (as opposed to Councillor) Mia Kee, who is opposed by Labour's David Patrick and UKIP's Darryl Paxford.

Parliamentary constituency: Broxtowe
Nottinghamshire county council division: Chilwell and Toton
ONS Travel to Work Area: Nottingham

Mia Kee (C)
David Patrick (Lab)
Darryl Paxford (UKIP)

March 2012 by-election C 831 Lab 385 LD 300 UKIP 228
May 2011 result C 1529/1491/1413 Lab 926/925/837 LD 377/334/304 UKIP 305
Sep 2009 by-election C 1081 LD 474 Lab 296 BNP 58
May 2007 result C 1394/1315/1301 LD 725/719/669 Lab 411/402/387 BNP 205 UKIP 149
May 2003 result C 1183/1126/1118 Lab 504/490/452 LD 446/358

Halton council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Frank Fraser at the age of 81.  The Mayor of Halton in 2009-10, he was first elected to Halton council in 1997 after a career in the printing industry.

Riverside College, Widnes
Welcome to the dirtiest, ugliest and most depressing town in England (according to the Daily News, writing in 1888).  This is, of course, Widnes, a town called into existence by the Industrial Revolution as the major chemicals town in north-west England.  Back in the 1960s, Paul Simon was so depressed by the town that he wrote a song while waiting for a train out of the place; that song was "Homeward Bound", which eventually reached No 9 in the charts for Simon and Garfunkel.  The Kingsway ward is named after the road which runs south from Widnes railway station towards the town centre.

Politically this is a very safe Labour ward which over the last five years has become super-safe.  The exception to this came in 2010, when Labour messed up their nomination and failed to get on the ballot, resulting in the bizarre sight of the Lib Dems narrowly beating the Green Party for a council seat in Widnes.  The unlucky councillor to lose his seat as a result of the messup was Frank Fraser; not a good way to finish his mayoral year, but he had the consolation of returning to the council a year later without having to fight a contested election.  In 2012 Labour beat the Lib Dems 90-10 in a straight fight; after that experience the Lib Dems didn't defend their seat in the ward when it came up for re-election in May, and Labour gained back a seat they should never have lost by polling 76% in a straight fight with UKIP.

Andrea Wall defends the seat for Labour, against opposition from UKIP's Brad Bradshaw who fought the ward in May, Duncan Harper for the Tories and Paul Meara for the Lib Dems.

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

Brad Bradshaw (UKIP)
Duncan Harper (C)
Paul Meara (LD)
Andrea Wall (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 886 UKIP 287
May 2012 result Lab 883 LD 95
May 2011 result Lab unopposed
May 2010 result LD 907 Grn 793 C 480
May 2008 result Lab 570 C 217 Grn 92 LD 87
May 2007 result Lab 663 C 201 Grn 171
May 2006 result Lab 636 C 208 Grn 124
June 2004 result Lab 996/934/861 C 470/429

Lincolnshire county council
Caused by the death of Independent councillor John Hicks at the age of 72.  A retired teacher and keen sportsman, Hicks had served on Lincolnshire county council since 2009.

Masterton Road, Stamford
From one of England's ugliest towns to one of England's prettiest, although Stamford North is not the pretty part of town, consisting of two mostly residential wards on the northern edge of town.  This is a mostly Conservative area with the main opposition coming from independents: in the 2011 district council elections the Tories and independents split the four district council seats in the division equally between them, with some decent scores for Labour.  In the county division, Labour were only 97 votes behind the Tories back on general election day in 2005; Hicks won his seat in 2009, beating the Tories by 42 votes, and made the division safe in 2013.

Hicks was affiliated with the well-organised county council group Lincolnshire Independents, who have nominated Stamford town councillor Max Sawyer to contest the by-election.  The Tory candidate is Matthew Lee, who is a Peterborough city councillor but lives in Stamford.  Also standing are Mark Ashberry for Labour, Harrish Bisnauthsing for the Lib Dems and Robert Foulkes for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Grantham and Stamford
South Kesteven district wards: All Saints, St George's
ONS Travel to Work Area: Peterborough

Mark Ashberry (Lab)
Harrish Bisnauthsing (LD)
Robert Foulkes (UKIP)
Matthew Lee (C)
Max Sawyer (LincsInd)

May 2013 result Ind 775 C 517 Lab 343
June 2009 result Ind 786 C 734 LD 439 Lab 324
May 2005 result C 1398 Lab 1301 LD 764 Ind 305

Aylesbury Vale district council, Buckinghamshire
Caused respectively by the resignation of Lib Dem councillor Stuart Jarvis and Labour councillor Michael Beall.

County Hall, Aylesbury
These wards are both urban wards within the Buckinghamshire county town of Aylesbury.  Gatehouse is to the north-west of the town centre, while Southcourt ward lies to the south of the town centre and railway station.  Gatehouse ward includes a large industrial area next to the railway line, while Southcourt is more residential.

Both wards were safe Lib Dem areas in 2003, and a previous by-election in Gatehouse ward in July 2006 was a comfortable Lib Dem hold.  While Gatehouse remains safe for the party (the Lib Dems polled 41% in 2011, with the Tories best of the rest on 23%), they lost a seat to Labour in Southcourt at the 2011 election to give split representation.  However, that was back in 2011; in the 2013 county elections UKIP gained the county divisions covering both wards: in Aylesbury North-West, whose major part is Gatehouse ward, the Kippers had a comfortable lead that year (45%, to 26% for the Lib Dems and 15% for Labour) but Aylesbury South-West, which is based on Southcourt ward was a closer affair (UKIP 35% LD 33% Lab 19%) with UKIP eventually prevailing by a majority of 53 votes.

In the Gatehouse by-election the defending Lib Dem candidate is Anders Christensen.  The Tories have nominated Samantha North, Labour's candidate is Lucio Tangi and UKIP are standing Graham Cadle, while the ballot paper is completed by independent candidate George Entecott and the Greens' Mary Hunt.  In Southcourt the defending Labour candidate is Mark Bateman, who is opposed by the Lib Dems' Peter Agoro, the Tories' Sarah Sproat, UKIP's Brian Adams (who is the local county councillor) and the Greens' Andrew Kulig.

Parliamentary constituency: Aylesbury
Buckinghamshire county council division: Aylesbury North West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Milton Keynes and Aylesbury

Graham Cadle (UKIP)
Anders Christensen (LD)
George Entecott (Ind)
Mary Hunt (Grn)
Samantha North (C)
Lucio Tangi (Lab)

May 2011 result LD 622/580 C 342/288 Lab 279 UKIP 256/233
May 2007 result LD 690/634 C 376/319 UKIP 158
July 2006 by-election LD 559 C 343 Residents Action Party 90
May 2003 result LD 474/439 C 180/160 Lab 160/141 Residents Action Party 83/75

Parliamentary constituency: Aylesbury
Buckinghamshire county council division: Aylesbury South West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Milton Keynes and Aylesbury

Brian Adams (UKIP)
Peter Agoro (LD)
Mark Bateman (Lab)
Andrew Kulig (Grn)
Sarah Sproat (C)

May 2011 result LD 539/412 Lab 442/399 C 307/234 UKIP 211/180
May 2007 result LD 703/536 C 298/289 Lab 228/137 UKIP 172
May 2003 result LD 627/456 Ind 271 Lab 222 C 109/95 Residents Action Party 74

New Forest district council, Hampshire
Caused by the death of a Conservative councillor Ann Hickman at the age of 54.  Chairman of Bransgore parish council for seven years, Hickman had sat on New Forest district council since 2011 and was known for campaigning for safer roads.

Carpenters Arms, Bransgore
Hard up against the Dorset boundary, this is a rural ward covering a large chunk of the south-western New Forest.  The main centres of population are Bransgore and Burley themselves, together with the village of Hinton on the A35 Lyndhurst-Christchurch road.

This ward is safely Conservative; in May 2011 the Tories polled 66% with the Lib Dems quite a long way behind in second place.  The ward is part of the safe Tory Lyndhurst county division.

Defending for the Tories is Richard Frampton, a former councillor for this ward back in the dim and distant past who is now chairman of Bransgore parish council and also sits on the New Forest national park authority.  The Lib Dems are not standing a candidate, but Labour's Brian Curwain (from Hinton) and UKIP's Roz Mills (from Bransgore) ensure a contested election.

Parliamentary constituency: New Forest West
Hampshire county council division: Lyndhurst
ONS Travel to Work Area: Bournemouth

Brian Curwain (Lab)
Richard Frampton (C)
Roz Mills (UKIP)

May 2011 result C 1789/1539 LD 536 Lab 386
May 2007 result C 1335/1164 Ind 888 LD 430
May 2003 result C 961/886 Ind 880 LD 678

Windsor and Maidenhead council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Alan Mellins, who had got into hot water for suggesting during a council debate that travellers who refused eviction should be executed.

Maidenhead from the Air
(Cox Green is in the foreground, south of the main road)
This ward is in the Maidenhead half of the Windsor and Maidenhead council area, and essentially is the area immediately to the south of the A404(M) Maidenhead bypass.  While Cox Green is a separate civil parish, this area is effectively a Maidenhead suburb and part of the town's built-up area.

Over the last twelve years Cox Green has swung strongly to the right: from a safe Lib Dem ward in 2003 it turned into a Lib Dem/Tory marginal in 2007 and the Tories made the gains in 2011, beating the Lib Dems by 53% to 32%.

The Tories have gone for youth in this by-election, selecting 21-year-old Ross McWilliams.  The Lib Dem candidate is Cox Green parish councillor Gareth Jones.  Also on the ballot are Labour's Bob Horner, a retired bank manager, and UKIP's Lance Carter, a business owner and qualified football coach.

May 2011 result C 1489/1419/1270 LD 914/850/847 Lab 269/247/225 BNP 142
May 2007 result LD 1019/1000/996 C 905/778/742 BNP 391 Lab 144/122/115
May 2003 result LD 1332/1320/1295 C 529/493/490 Lab 132/121/90

Lance Carter (UKIP)
Robert Horner (Lab)
Gareth Jones (LD)
Ross McWilliams (C)

Parliamentary constituency: Maidenhead
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wycombe and Slough

Thursday, 4 December 2014

By-election Previews: 4th/5th December 2014

Four local by-elections are taking place this week, all in England.  UKIP are defending a seat in Thurrock, Labour are defending the seat of Liz McInnes (now MP for Heywood and Middleton) in Rossendale, while a Mansfield Independent Forum seat is up for grabs in Mansfield with no defending candidate.  A rare Friday by-election completes the set with a Conservative defence in Adur.

Three by-elections on 4th December 2014:

Thurrock council, Essex
Caused by the death of UKIP councillor Maggie O'Keeffe-Ray at the age of 62.  The wife of Cllr Robert Ray, the leader of Thurrock's UKIP group, O'Keeffe-Ray had been a Thurrock councillor for just four months since winning her seat in May this year.

The Top House, Aveley
On the north bank of Thames Estuary, Aveley is a small town just outside the Greater London boundary.  Its Wikipedia entry paints it as suburban development which has also seen some London overspill, although the area's economic indicators paint a mixed picture.  The area of the ward on the Thames bank is part of the Rainham Marshes nature reserve, while the ward also includes a small part of Purfleet along the Arterial Road (the former A13).

The present ward goes back to 2004, created as a result of the expansion of the former Aveley ward which was safely Conservative.  The Tories kept the current Aveley and Uplands ward in their hands until 2011 although there were some close shaves: in 2007 the BNP polled 31% here and cut the Tory majority to 6 points, while the 2010 result was a portent of things to come as the Tories won with just 33% of the vote, 10 points ahead of Labour.  The next year the ward turned into a four-way marginal: 2011 saw the Tories hold on with just 28%, to 24.5% for a former Tory councillor standing as an independent, 23.5% for UKIP and 22% for Labour.  The UKIP candidate that year was Tim Aker; then 25 years old, Aker has gone on to a career within UKIP as head of the party's policy unit and, since May this year, as an MEP for the Eastern region.  However, when UKIP gained the ward in 2012 in another four-way marginal result (UKIP 29% C 26% Lab 23% Ind 20.5%) it was Robert Ray who made the gain here.  In last May's ordinary election Robert's wife Maggie O'Keeffe-Ray made the ward safe for UKIP, polling 47% to 30% for the Tories and 16% for Labour.

Defending for UKIP is Tim Aker MEP, who is hoping to raise his profile in the area by being elected to Thurrock council: we are just five months away from a general election in which Aker is odds-on favourite to gain the Thurrock constituency from the Conservatives.  Theresa Webster is standing again for the Tories after fighting the ward in May.  Labour, who successfully fought off UKIP in an October by-election to the next-door ward of West Thurrock and South Stifford, have selected John O'Regan.  The Lib Dems have thrown in the towel after some appalling performances here over the last electoral cycle, but a four-cornered fight is assured by independent candidate Eddie Stringer.

Parliamentary constituency: Thurrock
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Tim Aker (UKIP)
John O'Regan (Lab)
Eddie Stringer (Ind)
Teresa Webster (C)

May 2014 result UKIP 1085 C 683 Lab 372 LD 161
May 2012 result UKIP 495 C 448 Lab 385 Ind 350 LD 29
May 2011 result C 626 Ind 551 UKIP 528 Lab 497 LD 45
May 2010 result C 1264 Lab 902 Ind 734 UKIP 553 BNP 369
May 2008 result C 845 BNP 521 Lab 363 LD 128
May 2007 result C 671 BNP 562 Lab 436 LD 146
May 2006 result C 941 Lab 509 Grn 202 LD 173
June 2004 result C 1152/1107/924 Lab 471/399/388 Grn 324

Rossendale borough council, Lancashire
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Liz McInnes, who is now the MP for Heywood and Middleton after winning the recent parliamentary by-election.  She was first elected to Rossendale council in 2010.

St Mary's Chambers. Rawtenstall
Rossendale has lots of pronunciation traps for the unwary southerner.  Ask for directions to Hasslingden and you won't be taken seriously, while a passing reference to Backup may mean that the place goes all Royston Vasey on you.  Even the name of the district is a trap.  Repeat after me: Rozzendale, Hazlingden, Bay-c'p, Rotten-stall - or, as it's correctly spelt, Rawtenstall - the centre of Rossendale and the location of Longholme ward.  Longholme covers the western half of Rawtenstall along the Haslingden Road, together with New Hall Hey along the old road to Bury.

Rossendale is a classic industrial Pennine valley, with the River Irwell at the bottom surrounded by mills and the housing climbing up the steep sides to the north and south.  The mills were the usual Lancashire cotton-spinning mix, but Rozzendale also specialised in shoemaking for the Empire; there are no shoe factories in the valley now, but about every other building on the road to Bacup is still a shoe shop.  On the northern slopes of the ward is one of the valley's more unusual tourist attractions, Ski Rossendale, a 200m dry ski slope which has caused the local hospital to develop a specialism in treating skiing-related injuries.  At the bottom can be found Rawtenstall's railway station, now the northern terminus of the East Lancashire tourist railway which connects the town with Bury and Heywood.  Around the station has developed a retail and industrial park with the usual range of national chain shops/restaurants and some light engineering.

Longholme ward, like much of Rossendale and the Rossendale and Darwen parliamentary seat in which it lies, is a key marginal area which has seen some tiny majorities.  Labour won all three seats for the ward quite comfortably when it was drawn up in its present form in 2002, but the Tories took two of the Labour seats in 2003 (by 8 votes) and 2004, and held a seat in a by-election in September 2004.  Labour didn't get the Tory seats back until 2011 and 2012.  The Lib Dems were just 26 votes behind Labour in the 2010 election, coming from nowhere and returning there just as swiftly.  Over the 2011-2014 electoral cycle Labour has taken the Tory seats and consolidated its majority; in May Labour had 43% to 33% for the Tories and 24% for UKIP.  The ward lies within the Rossendale South county council division, which is a Tory-held marginal.

Defending for Labour is Annie McMahon.  The Tories have reselected their candidate from May, NHS child psychiatrist Mischa Mockett, while the ballot paper is completed by UKIP candidate Gary Barnes.

Parliamentary constituency: Rossendale and Darwen
Lancashire county council division: Rossendale South
ONS Travel to Work Area: Blackburn

Gary Barnes (UKIP)
Annie McMahon (Lab)
Mischa Mockett (C)

May 2014 result Lab 715 C 554 UKIP 396
May 2012 result Lab 757 C 401 LD 242
May 2011 result Lab 937 C 879
May 2010 result Lab 991 LD 965 C 785
May 2008 result C 679 Lab 484 Ind 350
May 2007 result C 663/586 Lab 554/528 LD 147
May 2006 result Lab 642 C 564 Grn 299
Sept 2004 by-election C 720 Lab 511
June 2004 result C 1024 Lab 829
May 2003 result C 559 Lab 551
May 2002 result Lab 896/789/775 C 524/510/389

Mansfield district council, Nottinghamshire
Caused by the death of Mansfield Independent Forum councillor Derek Evans at the age of 70.  Evans was the deputy leader of the Independent Forum, and member for housing strategy and regeneration in mayor Tony Egginton's cabinet.  In his working life he had worked in sales and marketing for the brewing industry, and started his political career in his 20s in Leicestershire, serving three terms on Hinckley and Bosworth borough council where he was Mayor in 1982/3.  After retiring from work he returned to local politics on Mansfield district council, serving as a Warsop parish councillor and as district councillor for Netherfield ward since 2011.

Meden Vale Methodist Church
The Netherfield ward is an ex-coalmining area, essentially consisting of the village of Meden Vale which was called into existence in the 1910s to house miners at Welbeck Colliery.  Welbeck was one of the last deep coal mines to operate in England, closing in 2010 having exhausted its reserves.

Mansfield got redrawn single-member ward boundaries in 2011, so there is only one previous result: a narrow 43-vote (51%-46%) win by the Mansfield Independent Forum over Labour that year.  The Mansfield Independent Forum is essentially the supporters of Tony Egginton, who has served as Mansfield's elected mayor since 2002 but at his last re-election in 2011 only had a majority of 67 votes (0.2 points) over the Labour candidate in the runoff.  Before 2011 Netherfield was part of the three-seat Meden ward, which was solidly Labour although independents could often poll well.  The ward is part of the very safely Labour Warsop county council division.

Evans died at the end of May, so this by-election has taken an unusually long time to call; whoever wins here will be straight back on the campaign trail to secure re-election next year.  In what may be a bad sign for Mayor Egginton who also faces re-election next year, there is no defending Mansfield Independent Forum candidate and the seat is up for grabs.  This should be good news for the new Labour candidate, Lesley Wright, who is opposed by Karen Seymour of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Sid Walker of UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Mansfield
Nottinghamshire county council division: Warsop
ONS Travel to Work Area: Mansfield

Karen Seymour (TUSC)
Sid Walker (UKIP)
Lesley Wright (Lab)

May 2011 result MIF 444 Lab 401 LD 34

One by-election on 5th December 2014:

Adur district council, West Sussex
A rare Friday by-election caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Mike Mendoza.  A broadcaster who once presented the overnight show on talkSPORT, Mendoza is concentrating on being a TV presenter with Latest TV, a local television channel covering the Brighton area.

Adur Civic Centre, Shoreham
This particular St Mary's ward (there are about 20 of them up and down the UK) covers the centre of Shoreham-by-Sea, running from the town centre and harbour along the High Street, Brighton Road and Eastern Avenue.  Thanks to its location on the Adur estuary, Shoreham was developed as a port during the Norman period, and prospered as the closest Channel port to London; King John stationed his fleet here in the early thirteenth century.  While the port was revived by the Victorians who connected Shoreham to the railway network, the main survivor of the Norman period is the church of St Mary de Haura, which gives its name to the ward, although only half of the original Norman church remains.

St Mary's, like Adur as a whole, is generally safe Conservative.  Although Labour did turn the ward into a marginal in 2012 by cutting the Tory lead to 9 points, the Tories pulled away again in May's ordinary election when they had 47%, to 29% for Labour and 16% for the Green Party, who usually poll respectably in this ward and had a couple of second places in the Noughties.  The Conservatives safely hold the Shoreham county division, which includes this ward.

Defending for the Conservatives is letting agent Stephen Chipp.  Labour have reselected Irene Reed, their candidate from May.  The Green candidate will be Jennie Tindall, and Jenny Greig stands for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: East Worthing and Shoreham
West Sussex county council division: Shoreham
ONS Travel to Work Area: Worthing

May 2014 result C 508 Lab 309 Grn 174 LD 88
May 2012 result C 335 Lab 247 Grn 205 UKIP 103 LD 51
May 2010 result C 864 Lab 558 Grn 406 UKIP 250
May 2008 result C 514 Grn 212 Lab 136 LD 99 UKIP 73
May 2006 result C 473 Grn 203 LD 168 Lab 159
June 2004 result C 560/503 Lab 454/434