Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview with 2 LAB defences, a Plaid one and an Indy one

Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview with 2 LAB defences, a Plaid one and an Indy one

Ogmore Vale on Bridgend (Ind defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 39, Independents 10, Liberal Democrats 3, Conservatives 1, Plaid Cymru 1 (Labour majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Independent 505 (55%), Labour 414 (45%)
Candidates duly nominated: Dhanisha Patel (Lab), Sally Hyde (UKIP), Ralph Shepherd (Ind), Tim Thomas (Plaid), Jamie Wallis (Con)

The ward of Ogmore Vale may only have been a recent construct, but it’s electoral history goes right back to the creation of the Ogmore district council and Mid Glamorgan county council. Back in those days it was two wards (one electing one member and one electing two members) and back in those days Labour were dominant. The modern day Ogmore Vale ward was created in 1987 and following tradition Labour won that ward with a 62% vote share. In fact Labour were so dominant that in 1991, 1995 and 1999 the Labour councillor was elected unopposed. So it was rather a surprise in 2004 when not only did Plaid nominate a candidate, but that candidate actually won (if only by 23 votes) but Labour were determined to win it back and in 2008 that’s precisely what happened as Labour dominated again with 72% of the vote. Which makes what happened in 2012 even more unusual. And now in the by-election we have a veritable multi party battle who knows what is going to happen? Will Labour resume it’s dominance? Will Plaid Cymru win back a seat it held? Will the Independents hold on? Or will UKIP manage to break their duck in Wales and add someone to join Cllr. James on Ceredigion as the second UKIP councillor in Wales?

Eglwysbach on Conwy (Plaid defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Independents 19, Conservatives 14, Plaid Cymru 12, Labour 9, Liberal Democrats 5 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 12)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Plaid elected unopposed
Candidates duly nominated: Hazel Meredith (Con), Austin Roberts (Plaid)

The electors of the “Small Church” must be getting used to this by now. This by-election will be the fifth election in a decade where Plaid and the Conservatives have been at each other’s throats. The first occasion in a by-election in 2005 saw Plaid romp home with 81% of the vote and in the local elections in 2008 they polled 88% (thanks to the Liberal Democrats not standing). Two years later another by-election saw the Plaid vote fall by 15% but come the 2012 elections Plaid were returned unopposed so I think we can safely say that Plaid HOLD the “Small Church” in Conwy and hope that for the sake of the Conservative candidate, the majority is not too embarrassing (say less than 40%)?

Rodwell on Dorset (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 27, Liberal Democrats 12, Labour 5, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Labour 722 (29%), Conservative 583 (24%), Green Party 565 (23%), United Kingdom Independence Party 467 (19%), Liberal Democrat 132 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: Francis Drake (UKIP), Richard Nickinson (Con), Hazel Priest (Lab), Clare Sutton (Green), Graham Winter (Lib Dem)

Ever since Poole became a unitary authority in 1995, Dorset has lost something about itself. Not that the parties actually noticed that much as in the 1997 county council elections the share of seats won by the parties compared with 1993 wasn’t that different, but it certainly made a difference in the elections that followed as the Conservatives regained control of the council in 2001 although a majority of four at that election, three in 2005, eleven in 2009 and just nine in 2014 means that the new Dorset is hardly a Conservative fiefdom as it was in the 1990’s and when you see that there was a mere 10% separating first from fourth in this ward it’s clear that every party here has either something to gain or something to lose.

Belle Vue on Shropshire (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 48, Liberal Democrats 12, Labour 9, Independents 4, National Health Action 1 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Labour 939 (76%), Conservative 289 (24%)
Candidates duly nominated: Beverley Baker (Lib Dem), Amy Liebich (Lab), Sam Taylor (Green), Andrew Wagner (Con)

Belle Vue really has experienced changes over the years. When I lived in Welshpool and Shropshire was both a county council and had a local authority by the name of Shrewsbury and Atcham, Belle Vue was a Liberal Democrat / Labour battleground across a council (that at the county level) was a real three way battleground. By the time I looked at Shropshire again in 2005, it was a completely different kettle of fish. The Liberal Democrats were firmly in second place (having lost the Ludlow constituency at that election) and as time wore on it didn’t get any better for them remaining in second place in both votes and seats in 2009 and then slipping to third place in the vote share behind Labour in 2013 with the fact that they didn’t field a candidate here in 2013 testament to that drop in support, so the fact that there is a Lib Dem candidate this time is perhaps signs of progress in a former Liberal Democrat battleground but following the Conservative gain of Telford at the general election, it’s clear that the only real challengers to Labour in Shropshire these days are the Conservatives.

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