Local By-Election Preview: June 18th 2015

Local By-Election Preview: June 18th 2015

North Highcliffe and Walkford on Christchurch (Deferred Election, Two Conservative Defences)
Result of last full election (2011): Conservatives 21, Independents 2, Liberal Democrats 1 (Conservative majority of 18)
Result of ward at last full election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,136, 1,001 (75%)
Labour: 381 (25%)
Candidates duly nominated:
Labour: Donald Barr, Gareth Walls
Conservatives: Sally Derham-Wilkes, Nick Geary
United Kingdom Independence Party: Robin Grey, Janet Hatton

It has often been said that the seaside resorts of Britain “have seen better days”. For the Liberal Democrats the same could be said for Christchurch, scene of their spectaclar 1993 by-election gain from the Conservatives, now a rock solid Conservative seat with the Liberal Democrats near the bottom of the list and it’s same for the council as well.

Back in 2003, a decade after that gain, there were just eight Liberal Democrat councillors elected, a figure that halved four years later, and then reduced by a further three quarters in 2011 and then wiped out completely in 2015.

And who has been helped by these losses? Well, yes the Conservatives have increased their tally from 14 to 21 in that timescale but that one has not gone to the Independents but UKIP so might UKIP have another chance at proving where there is a virtual one party state, protest voters vote UKIP only to desert them at the next election?

Holmwoods on Mole Valley (Deferred Election, One Liberal Democrat Defence from 2011, one UKIP defence from 2014)
Result of last full election (2014): Conservatives 23, Liberal Democrats 11, Independents 6, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 5)
Result of ward (2011): Liberal Democrat 863 (42%), Conservative 743 (36%), UKIP 238 (12%), Labour 226 (11%)
Result of ward (2014): UKIP 608 (32%), Conservative 551 (29%), Liberal Democrat 504 (26%), Labour 133 (7%), Green 127 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated:
Conservatives: James Baird, Emma Whittinger
United Kingdom Independence Party: Michael Foulston, Stephen Morgan
Liberal Democrats: Clare Malcolmson, Clayton Wellman
Green Party: Michael Suggett, Jeff Zie

Mole Valley in Surrey has always been a rather Conservative / Liberal Democrat love / hate relationship of a council. Back in 2003, the council was hung with the Conservatives short by two of a majority and the Liberal Democrats only six short. The Conservatives gained an overall majority on the council in the 2006 elections but four years later the Independents levelled all of their guns at the Conservatives and managed to make three net gains which coupled with the Lib Dem net gain robbed the Conservatives of their overall majority.

Despite the national disasters that were the 2011 and 2012 local elections nationally, the Liberal Democrats in Mole Valley actually managed to make gains however that all reversed in 2014 as the Conservatives came roaring back and with these two councillors still to declare the Conservatives gained control this year with a majority of 5 in an election that saw the Liberal Democrats collapse to their lowest level of councillors for over a decade.

Harry Hayfield

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