Tottington on Bury (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 35, Conservatives 12, Independents 2, Liberal Democrats 2 (Labour majority of 19)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Labour 1,085 (42%), Conservative 965 (38%), United Kingdom Independence Party 379 (15%), Liberal Democrat 135 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: David Foss (Lib Dem), Martin Hayes (Lab), Ian Henderson (UKIP), Greg Keeley (Con), John Southworth (Green)
Bury is that sort of council that can either be a battleground council (as it was between 1990 – 1994 and 2006 – 2011) or it can be as safe as houses (as it was between 1995 – 2003 and 2012 – today) but when it does become safe as houses, it’s always Labour who control it. The best the Conservatives have ever done is a majority of one in 2008 (leading to the suspicion that Bury naturally trends Labour) which makes this by-election of a Labour marginal in a council area that trends Labour very interesting indeed and with polls suggesting that the “Corbyn bounce” is coming to an end and past evidence that when UKIP contest an election after appearing for the first time, their vote falls, could the Conservatives buck the trend?
Dedham and Langham on Colchester (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 27, Liberal Democrats 20, Labour 9, Independents 4 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Conservative 596 (71%), Liberal Democrat 81 (10%), Labour 81 (10%), Green 78 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Anne Brown (Con), Bill Faram (UKIP), George Penny (Lib Dem), John Spademan (Lab)
Colchester has also been a battleground over the years only instead of flipping between Conservative and Labour, it’s the Liberal Democrats who provide the challenge and must one of the few councils in Britain to have remained in a state of No Overall Control since 2003 although you might think looking at the result here in 2012 the Conservatives wouldn’t have a thing to worry about. However, look whose making an appearance? UKIP and with their track record of doing very well in first time apperances, plus the continuing Liberal Democrat flightback will there be enough of a shift for the ward to change hands?
Chandlers Ford on Hampshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 45, Liberal Democrats 17, United Kingdom Independence Party 10, Labour 4, Independent 1, Community Campaign 1 (Conservative majority of 12)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 1,919 (39%), Liberal Democrat 1,557 (32%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,073 (22%), Labour 238 (5%), Green Party 124 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: James Duguid (Lib Dem), John Edwards (UKIP), Judith Grajewski (Con), Sarah Smith (Lab)
And whilst we are on the subject of Lib Dem fightbacks, how’s this for a possible humdinger of an election? This ward, located in Eastleigh borough, recorded a pro Lib Dem swing in 2013 (5% from Con to Lib Dem) when across Hampshire as a whole there was a 0.5% swing to the Conservatives (proving that Eastleigh Liberal Democrats can put up a heck of a fight when they want to) and with the reduction in support for UKIP when they fight again it’s all a question of “Which party will pick up the support?”. By my reckoning if the Liberal Democrats are able to pick up two thirds of the UKIP drop they will gain the ward, but if they can only manage less than half, the Conservatives will hold.
Northfield Brook on City of Oxford (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 33, Liberal Democrats 8, Green Party 6, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 700 (72%), Conservative 112 (12%), Green 111 (11%), Liberal Democrat 55 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Lucy Ayrton (Green), Gary Dixon (Con), Joe Lawes (UKIP), James Morbin (TUSC), Jennifer Pegg (Lab)
Oxford is one of a new breed of councils that ignores the third rule completely and has elections every even numbered year (just like the American Congress) and as such gives a more hotch potch history than some other councils but despite that one thing is clear in Oxford, Labour have been taking support from both the Lib Dems and the Greens since 2006 (when the Lib Dems were last the largest party on the council).
Since then however Labour have gained 16 seats (11 of which came from the Lib Dems, 2 of which came from the Greens and 3 of which came from the Independents leaving you with a situation as here with a very dominant Labour party and a scattered opposition. But Labour can’t rest on their laurels too much as they have a double threat here, not only from UKIP but from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (especially when you consider that this ward once elected a true Socialist as recently as 2002)
Sonning Common on South Oxfordshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 33, Labour 1, Liberal Democrat 1, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 30)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,444, 2,432 (60%)
Labour 651, 510 (16%)
Green 519 (13%)
Liberal Democrats 431, 424 (11%)
Candidates duly nominated: Will Hall (Con), Susan Cooper (Lib Dem), David Winchester (Lab)
It says a lot about a council when 92% of the seats are won by a single party (mind you when you see that 45% of the vote went to the Conservatives you can understand why) so the fact that UKIP have ignored this ward seems a little bit strange, after all at the local elections in May they polled 7% of the vote and you would think with such a one party state they would certainly influence the result, but they haven’t and so it is safe to say that this will be another romping Conservative hold in a part of the country that clearly votes Conservative until the cows come home.
Bryanston and Dorset Square on City of Westminster (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 44, Labour 16 (Conservative majority of 28)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened enotes elected
Conservatives 1,207, 1,180, 1,049 (52%)
Labour 468, 415, 391 (20%)
Green Party 381 (16%)
Liberal Democrats 286, 240 (12%)
Candidates duly nominated: Julia Alexander (Con), Jill Sarah de Quincey (UKIP), Steve Dollond (Baker Street, No Two Ways), Ananthi Paskaralingam (Lab), Hugh Small (Green), Martin Thompson (Lib Dem)
And whilst I am pretty sure there aren’t any cows in Westminster this is another Conservative heartland (mind you in 1986 that dominance looked as it may have come to an end) as the Conservative majority shrank from 26 in 1982 to just four in 1986 but had recovered back to 30 at the 1990 local elections (and presumably Cllr. Boothroyd, Lab, Westbourne) who seems to know Westminster like the back of his hand will be able to explain why this was the case.
And whilst it is true that we have UKIP standing for the first time, UKIP have a definite “London problem” which means that the candidate to watch may be Mr. Dollond who (as you may have guessed) is not entirely convinced by the merits of turning Baker Street (made famous by a resident by the name of Sherlock Holmes and the piece of music by Gerry Rafferty) into a one way street and whilst it is a little unlikely that he will be able to win, his influence could turn a rock solid Conservative seat into a very tight marginal.