Harry Hayfield’s local by-election preview : August 1st 2013

Harry Hayfield’s local by-election preview : August 1st 2013

Codnor and Waingroves on Amber Valley (Lab Defence)
Last Local Election (2012): Con 24, Lab 21 (Conservative overall majority of 3)
Ward Results (during last electoral cycle)
2010: Lab 1,159 (43%), Con 1,127 (42%), BNP 391 (15%)
2011: No Election
2012: Lab 825 (58%), Con 339 (24%), UKIP 198 (14%), BNP 59 (4%)

In the 1970 general election, one sight above all showed what a shock result that election was for Harold Wilson, Belper (a seat that in 1966 had elected George Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was gained by the Conservatives on a swing of 5%. Since then the constituency had a name change to Amber Valley and is still a right Con / Lab ding dong and at the local level this is demonstrated in spades. Between 2003 and 2010, Labour were losing councillors and councils at a rate of knots all over the country and yet in Amber Valley, the changes between 2003 and 2010 was Con +4, Lab -6, BNP +2 (which out of a council with 45 members and an election in some parts of the council every year was really remarkably good work by Labour). Of course since the election, Labour’s fortunes have improved making a total of seven gains (five from Con and two from BNP) taking the council virtually back to 2003.

Penyrheol on Caerphilly (Plaid Defence)
Last Local Election (2012): Lab 50, Plaid 20, Ind 3 (Labour overall majority of 27)
Ward Result:
Plaid 1,361, 1,196, 1,110, 992 (52%) winning three seats
Lab 1,074, 917, 871, 851 (42%) winning one seat
Ind 398 (4%) winning no seats
TUSC 174 (2%) winning no seats

Caerphilly has been a very strange council over the last three elections (on the current boundaries) and yet reflects the Labour / Plaid battleground at the heart of the Assembly. Back in 2004, Labour controlled the council with a majority of 5 having wrested control back from Plaid after the disaster of the 1999 Assembly elections and people assumed “Oh, well, it was nice to have someone different to moan about at the council, but back to normal”. However, Plaid did not intend to let Labour rebuild their majority and thanks to the fact that the Assembly elections and the locals were now separated by a year, Plaid took the benefit of a very bad set of results from the 2007 Assembly elections (which resulted in the One Wales coalition between Labour and Plaid) and said “Do you fancy not having a Labour council, if so, vote for us and we can prove that sharing power works”. Well, the electors of Caerphilly took them to their word, Making six gains and with Labour losing seven seats, the council was well and truly hung (Lab 32, Plaid 32, Ind 9) and with Plaid only 3% ahead of Labour in the popular vote, the One Wales coalition at Cardiff appeared in Caerphilly. Of course post general election, everything went right back to how it was and for Labour that meant 18 gains (12 from Plaid and six from the Independents) on a swing from Plaid of 12%.

Thetford West on Norfolk (UKIP Defence)
Last Local Election (2013): Con 40, UKIP 15, Lab 14, Lib Dem 10, Green 4, Ind 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Ward Result:
Peter Costas Georgiou UKIP 814 35%
Terry Jeremy Labour 813 35%
Tristan Ashby Conservative 353 15%
Carl Clark Christian Peoples Alliance 134 6%
Danny Jeffrey Liberal Democrat 122 5%
Sandra Elizabeth Walmsley Green 64 3%

Norfolk was one of the shocks that UKIP inflicted on the Conservatives at the local elections, however in this case it was Labour who got the biggest shock as UKIP gained the seat from them (having themselves gained it from the Lib Dems in 2009) but with a majority of 1 and the UKIP councillor resigning after allegations of shoplifting from a local store, will the electors of Thetford West return to form an make the ward a Lab / Con battleground as the electors of Stourport did in Worcestershire a few weeks ago.

Littlemoor on Ribble Valley (Con Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 33, Lib Dem 6, Ind 1 (Conservative overall majority of 26)
Ward Result (Embolden denotes elected)
Sue Knox LD 361 38.8%
Chris Bartrop C 343 36.9%

Simon Morley C 321
James Shervey LD 305
Alex Collinson Lab 226 24.3%
Luke Montague Lab 193

Ribble Valley (scene of the Lib Dems continued rejection of the “ex parrot” moniker that Margaret Thatcher had dubbed them prior to the Eastbourne by-election) has slowly been re-establishing it’s Conservative credentials. As late as 2003, the council was a keenly fought battle (Con 22, Lib Dem 15, Ind 2, Lab 1) but the 2007 local elections were the writing on the wall for the Lib Dems as they lost five seats in total to the Conservatives thus ensuring after the coalition deal a virtual Lib Dem wipeout. However, as this ward proved, just because the council is becoming more Conservative, that doesn’t mean that all wards are a lost cause.

St Mary’s on Worcestershire (UKIP Defence)
Last Local Election (2013): Con 30, Lab 12, UKIP 4, Lib Dem 3, Green 2, Ind 2, KHHC 2, Lib 1, Rates 1 (Conservative overall majority of 3)
Ward Result: UKIP 595 (27%), Con 545 (25%), Lab 507 (23%), KHHC 336 (15%), Lib 140 (6%), Green 46 (2%)

Today’s by-election in St. Mary’s has been caused by the death of the UKIP councillor and so therefore despite being in the same area as Stourport (Wyre Forest), and given the closeness of the result last time (just 4% between UKIP, Con and Lab) will voters look more kindly on UKIP than in Stourport or will they take the same attitude that UKIP were a protest vote and therefore a more local councillor is needed to address the issues in Wyre Forest.

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