Netherfield on Mansfield (Mansfield Independent Forum defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Labour 26, Mansfield Independents 10 (Labour majority of 16)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Mansfield Independents 444 (51%), Labour 401 (46%), Liberal Democrats 34 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Karen Seymour (TUSC), Sid Walker (UKIP), Sarah Wright (Lab)
Ever since the scare that Labour had in 1987 (when the Conservatives came within 56 seats of winning), Labour’s majority in Mansfield constituency has increased to such an extent that it’s position as one of Labour’s safest seats in the Midlands will not be challenged for a long time. The same however cannot be said about the council. Back in 2003, the Independents actually controlled the council with a majority of 4, not the safest margin in the world, I agree, but for the Independents to control a council with such a Labour history was concerning none the less, so when that majority increased to 12 in 2007 needless to say Labour headquarters must have been worried that they could have another 1987 on their hands come the 2010 general election. That situation did not arise as Labour held the seat by 6,000 and in 2011 gained control of the council as the coalition vote collapsed, but this by-election presents us with an interesting question. Last week, UKIP gained a ward from the Social Democrats were no Social Democrat candidate was nominated, this week there is no Mansfield Independent candidate, so could UKIP spring another surprise and put forward the theory that local Independents can (and do) vote UKIP?
Longholme on Rossendale (Lab defence)
Result of last election to council (2014): Labour 24, Conservative 10, Independent 2 (Labour majority of 12)
Result of last election in ward (2014): Labour 715 (43%), Conservatives 554 (33%), UKIP 396 (24%)
Candidates duly nominated: Gary Barnes (UKIP), Annie McMahon (Lab), Mischa Mockett (Con)
Rossendale has really been through the mill in the last decade or so. A completely hung council in 2003 with both Labour and the combined opposition tied on 18 seats apiece, the Conservatives broke the deadlock in 2004 by making eight gains (all from Labour) and retained control for the next six years until the Labour surge in 2011 which saw them gain control in 2012 and retain control this year, however the electors of Longholme may be of the opinion that this by-election isn’t really needed, after all they only re-elected Cllr. McInnes in May and the only reason this by-election is happening is because she was elected as the Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton and as we know, electors have a very reliable habit of punishing parties for unrequired by-elections (Kensington 1988, Ribble Valley 1990 to name but two)
Aveley and Uplands on Thurrock (United Kingdom Independence Party defence)
Result of last election to council (2014): Labour 23, Conservatives 18, UKIP 6, Independent 2 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 2)
Result of last election in ward (2014): UKIP 1,085 (47%), Conservative 683 (30%), Labour 372 (16%), Liberal Democrats 161 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: Tim Aker (UKIP), John O’Regan (Lab), Eddie Stringer (Ind), Teresa Webster (Con)
Thurrock in 2004 was a typical Essex council, Conservative majority of 7, Labour challenging and a couple of Independents sticking up for local affairs. But by 2008, this part of Essex was being raised as a point of concern, the reason? Four BNP councillors in Epping Forest and one in Thurrock. However by 2012, normal service had been resumed as the BNP lost all their seats and Thurrock became a Labour council (albeit with a majority of 1) with a single UKIP councillor adding to the collection. Nothing to worry about at all. That was until 2014 when UKIP made five gains in the district (two from Labour, three from the Conservatives) and forced the council back into No Overall Control and one of those gains was this very ward. However, when it comes to holding gains, UKIP do have a slight problem. So can they buck this trend and hold a gain?