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Local By-Election Preview: December 12th 2013

December 12th, 2013

vote counting

Topcliffe on Hambleton (Con Defence)
Result of last election (2011): Con 39, Ind 3, Lib Dem 2 (Conservative overall majority of 34)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Con 550 (75%), Lib Dem 185 (25%)
Candidates duly nominated: Garry Key (Con)
Result: Conservative HOLD elected unopposed

Hambleton is quite accustomed to the concept of elected unopposed being a rural area in the North of Yorkshire, however as their colleagues in Richmondshire may find being elected unopposed can have it’s downsides as well

Hornby Castle on Richmondshire (Con Defence)
Result of last election (2011): Con 11, Ind 9, Lib Dem 8, Others 6 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 7
Result of last election in ward (2011): Conservative elected unopposed
Candidates duly nominated: Jacqueline Brakenberry (UKIP), Helen Grant (Ind), Robin Scott (Con)

In the local elections to North Yorkshire in 2009, Richmondshire was a moderately Conservative heartland (Con 44%, Lib Dem 23%, Ind 22%, Green 7%, Lab 4%), however thanks in part to both a campaign to save the local hospital and UKIP’s influence in 2013 that heartland became rather wobbly (Con 32%, Ind 22%, Lib Dem 17%, UKIP 17%, Lab 6%, Hospital 4%, Green 3%) and as the last election in this ward was six years ago (when the Conservatives won against an Independent by 65% to 35%) you can see that with two anti Conservative candidates standing it doesn’t bode well for the Conservatives.

Iver Village and Richings Park on South Buckinghamshire (Lib Dem Defence)
Result of last election (2011): Con 38, Ind 1, Lib Dem 1 (Conservative overall majority of 36)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservative 868, 767, 697
Liberal Democrats 772, 462, 419
Candidates duly nominated: Peter Chapman (Lib Dem), Paul Griffin (Con), Ken Wright (UKIP)

South Buckinghamshire has not really had that much of an opposition, being a solid Conservative bastion. There was an opposition of seven in 2003, which reduced to four in 2007 and at the last election was cut to just two and as you can see this ward produced that sole Liberal Democrat councillor. So the fact that the Lib Dems won this seat by just five votes in 2011 (when the Lib Dem vote was just fractionally higher than it is now) would make them rather frightened. If it was not for the fact that UKIP are standing. Will we see what has happened in a large number of Con / Lib Dem marginal seats at Westminster (where a new UKIP candidate has tipped the seat into the Lib Dem column) or will UKIP garner support from both Con and Lib Dem to win the seat themselves?

Bedworth West on Warwickshire (Lab Defence)
Result of last election (2011): Con 26, Lab 22, Lib Dem 9, Green 2, Ind 1, Stratford First 1, Rates 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 6)
Result of last election in ward (2013): Lab 1,219 (58%), Con 569 (27%), Green 173 (8%), TUSC 139 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: Janet Batterbee (Con), Brian Hawkes (Lab), Natara Hunter (TUSC), Andrew Hutchings (UKIP)

Bedworth West is a true Labour heartland, in fact of the wards in Bedworth it is the only one that did not elect a Conservative in 2009 (although that said they did have a real scare coming within 4% of losing it thanks to a 17% BNP vote) but in 2013 normal service was resumed. Well, almost normal service. A couple of days before the opening of nominations it was announced that Cllr. McCarney had been deselected as the Labour candidate for the ward over his lack of attendance at the county council. As a result a new candidate was nominated Keith Richardson and as part of the massive increase in the Labour vote, he was elected the new councillor which means that in the space of nine months or so, the electors of Bedworth West will have had three councillors. Could this mean that the electors will turn their backs on Labour for putting them in this position? In the wards where the sitting Labour candidate stood down in 2013, Labour’s share of the vote increased by 19% compared to the 2009 county elections, this compares to a 15% increase in all the Labour wards being defended in 2013, so it is possible that Labour shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The people who should be panicking are the Conservatives thanks to UKIP. For the Conservatives in Warwickshire, UKIP was a disaster. UKIP fielded 23 candidates in those local elections and polled 20% of the vote in those wards, with the Conservatives falling 13%, Labour climbing 8% and the Lib Dems falling by 10%. So could UKIP challenge Labour (as they did in Hartshill coming within 1% of gaining the ward) or will they help Labour to a landslide win?

Harry Hayfield