Thursday, 28 January 2016

By-election Preview: 28 January 2016

Stockton-on-Tees council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor David Rose due to work commitments.  He had served on Stockton council since 2011.

Yarm Road Methodist Church
Welcome to Stockton-on-Tees, the second town within the Teesside conurbation.  Although Stockton is an old town which since mediaeval times had had a market and a small port on the Tees estuary, it was the Industrial Revolution that created the town as we know it today.  The 1820s saw the opening of the world's first passenger railway, connecting the town with the coalmining district of Shildon and allowing coal to be transported to the town's rapidly-growing ironworking industry.  A number of the blast furnaces were in this ward along the north bank of the Tees, although redevelopment means that this area is now industrial estates together with a brand new link road from Stockton to the new town of Ingleby Barwick.  However, the ward's population lives in the Oxbridge area to the west of the town centre, Victorian terracing along the Yarm Road and Oxbridge Lane.  Also within this ward is the traditional Victorian splendour of Ropner Park, named after the former Conservative MP for the town Sir Robert Ropner, a Prussian immigrant who ran a local shipyard and shipping company.

The sudden and explosive growth of Ingleby Barwick (from almost nothing in 1971 to over 16,000 population in 2001) created problems for the Boundary Commission, as bickering over what to do about the town's representation meant that the 2003 ward boundaries were not ready in time.  A special election therefore had to be held in 2005 to bring in the new ward boundaries, which saw some major changes to the former Parkfield ward which took the Oxbridge area from Grangefield ward while losing part of the town centre.  Since all these areas are safe Labour anyway that boundary change didn't have much partisan effect: although this ward is part of the marginal seat of Stockton South, it's not the area of it that gave the Tories an unexpected hold here in last year's general election.  Last year's local elections gave the Labour slate here 46%, to 27% for the Tories and 12% for independent candidate Shakeel Noor, with Rose beating the alphabet to come top of the poll.

Defending for Labour is Allan Mitchell, a public sector worker and Ingleby Barwick town councillor.  The Tory candidate is Stephen Richardson, who fought the neighbouring Grangefield ward last year.  Shakeel Noor is not trying again.  Completing the ballot paper are the Lib Dems' Drew Durning and UKIP's Peter Braney.

Parliamentary constituency: Stockton South

May 2015 Lab 1608/1501 C 950/887 Ind 419 Grn 285 LD 192/179 Libertarian 58
May 2011 result Lab 801/771 Stockton Inds Assoc 451/250 C 444/345 Ind 255 LD 106/93
May 2007 result Lab 820/749 C 410/409 LD 278/276
May 2005 result Lab 1316/1199 C 652/556 LD 482/451

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