Tuesday, 13 October 2015

By-election Previews: 15 October 2015

SOUTH CAMBERWELL
London Borough of Southwark
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Chris Gonde due to a poor work/life balance.  He had served as a Southwark councillor since 2014.

This is an interesting inner-city ward, the sort of typical inner London ward where rich and poor live cheek by jowl.  The centre of the ward is Champion Hill in southern Camberwell, the home of the non-league football club Dulwich Hamlet, and the ward extends to Denmark Hill railway station in the north (a major junction with frequent trains to Victoria, Blackfriars and the East London line of the Overground) and East Dulwich and North Dulwich stations to the south (on the London Bridge-West Croydon/Beckenham Junction line).  The ward's population is heavily multiracial with one of the highest black populations in the UK, and 38% of the households are socially rented, but almost half the adult population has a degree-level qualification and a fair proportion of the rest are studying for one: King's College London has a large halls of residence here.

This population mix normally produces a safe Labour ward, but in the 2006 election the Green Party broke through to take one of the ward's three seats.  That Green councillor was Jenny Jones; now Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Jones has served on the London Assembly since its foundation in 2000.  Jones lost her council seat in 2010 to Labour's Stephen Govier, who was then thrown out of the Labour party after it was revealed that he had served a six-year prison sentence in the USA for shooting a man.  In the 2012 London elections Jones was the Green Party's mayoral candidate, coming in third, and top of the Green list; in that election South Camberwell's ballot boxes voted for Ken Livingstone over Boris by 54-23, but a personal vote for Jones can be seen on the London Member ballot in which the Greens were second on 18%, Labour again polling 54% and the Tories coming third on 13%.  The most recent poll here was the 2014 Southwark council election in which Labour won with 51%, the Greens had 23% and the Conservatives 11%.

Defending for Labour is Octavia Lamb, a picture editor currently working for a new BBC digital project.  The Green Party have reselected their lead candidate from 2014 Eleanor Margolies, a writer and theatremaker.  The Tory candidate is Christopher Mottau.  Also standing are Benjamin Maitland of the Lib Dems and the aforementioned Stephen Govier for the "All People's Party", a group of disaffected former Labour figures.

Parliamentary constituency: Camberwell and Peckham
London Assembly constituency: Lambeth and Southwark
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

May 2014 result Lab 1915/1853/1827 Grn 855/619/509 C 421/363/351 LD 315/283/237 All People's Party 176 Ind 96/70/67
May 2010 result Lab 2688/2541/2502 LD 1509/943/872 Grn 1282/822/683 C 835/712/628
May 2006 result Lab 1148/1090/967 Grn 1014/914/832 C 448/425/372 LD 339/315/247
May 2002 result Lab 896/839/836 Grn 417/316/270 LD 314/308/259 C 279/261/258 Socialist Alliance 95

May 2012 GLA results (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Ken 1617 Boris 696 Grn 303 Ind 168 LD 151 UKIP 20 BNP 15
London Members: Lab 1622 Grn 532 C 387 LD 202 CPA 78 TUSC 62 UKIP 50 BNP 23 House Party 15 EDP 12 Hayat 3 NF 2 Alagaratnam 0


CHATTERIS
Cambridgeshire county council
Caused by the death of UKIP councillor Sandra Rylance at the age of 69, from a brain tumour.  Described as "extremely competent, intelligent and very caring", Ryland had served as a county councillor since 2013.

Welcome to the Fens: Chatteris is an ancient town which was once an island of dry ground in the middle of the Fens.  The Fens have been drained to become rich agricultural land, and agriculture is accordingly the mainstay of the town's economy: a third of Britain's parsnips and one in six of the country's onions pass through the town.  Notoriously, the town is not home to a Tesco supermarket; one has recently been built, at a cost of £22 million, but failed to open due to Tesco's financial troubles.  The Chatteris division includes much of that agricultural land but only around two-thirds of the town itself, the rest being in the Forty Foot division.

Chatteris was one of twelve seats which UKIP won in the 2013 Cambridgeshire county council elections, with a majority of just five votes in what was previously a Tory/Lib Dem marginal; in that election UKIP had 35%, the Tories 34% and the Liberal Democrats 21%.  Following boundary changes in 2015 the division doesn't neatly match up with the Fenland district ward boundaries, but the Tories hold all five of the wards wholly or partly in the division and two of them were uncontested in May.  Not unusual for Fenland district.

Defending for UKIP is Richard Mandley, a plumber.  His main opposition will come from the Tories' Alan Melton, the previous county councillor for the division who stood down in 2013.  The Lib Dems' John Freeman completes the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: North East Cambridgeshire
Fenland district council wards: The Mills, Wenneye, Birch (part), Manea (part), Slade Lode (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Huntingdon

May 2013 result UKIP 584 C 579 LD 358 Lab 159
June 2009 result C 1140 LD 975 Lab 157
May 2005 result C 1604 LD 955 Lab 926


HOWGATE
Cumbria county council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Sue Hayman, who is now the Member of Parliament for Workington.  A Cumbria county councillor since 2013, Hayman had previously worked in social services.

Firmly within West Cumbria, this is the northern end of the Copeland district, although you'd be hard pressed to find a village called Howgate on the map.  The largest population centre here is in fact Distington, a large village off the main road between Workington and Whitehaven.  Other villages within the ward include Moresby and the coastal village of Parton, home to the division's railway station on the Cumbrian Coast line.  Here also can be found Lowca, a former coalmining and ironworking village which now exports electricity thanks to a large windfarm.

This is a consistently Labour area at both district and county level, although it does include a small part of Copeland's Bransty ward which is normally Conservative.  Cumbria was redistricted in 2013 so the only previous result is from that year, with Labour beating the Tories 60-31; the predecessor division (Distington and Moresby) was also Labour since at least 2005, although not so handily.

Defending for Labour is Gillian Troughton, a district councillor for Distington ward.  She is opposed by Andrew Wonnacott for the Conservatives and Eric Atkinson for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Copeland
Copeland district council wards: Distington; Moresby; Bransty (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Workington and Keswick (part); Whitehaven (part)

May 2013 result Lab 692 C 354 Grn 98

Andrew Teale

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