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...

WASHINGTON EAST
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


TOTON AND CHILWELL MEADOWS
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


KINGSWAY
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


STAMFORD NORTH
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


GATEHOUSE and SOUTHCOURT
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.

Gatehouse
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

Southcourt
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


BRANSGORE AND BURLEY
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


COX GREEN
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

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