Local By-Election Preview : February 25th 2016

Local By-Election Preview : February 25th 2016

Key: Death Resignation

Kingswinford North and Wall Heath (Con defence) and St. James (Lab defence) on Dudley
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 38, Conservatives 25, United Kingdom Independence Party 7, Independent 1, Green Party 1 (Labour majority of 4)
Result of ward at last election

Kingswinford North and Wall Heath (2014):
Conservative 1,704 (43%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,090 (27%), Labour 1,071 (27%), Green Party 131 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Lynn Boleyn (Lab), Mick Forsyth (UKIP), Edward Lawrence (Con), Andi Mohr (Green)

St. James (2015):
Labour 2,641 (45%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,642 (28%), Conservative 1,398 (24%), Green Party 186 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Cathryn Bayton (Lab), Graeme Lloyd (UKIP), Wayne Sullivan (Con)

There are some parliamentary by-elections that stick in the mind. For the Conservatives, there’s Ashfield in 1977 (Con GAIN on a swing of 20% from Lab), for the Liberals, Orpington in 1962 (Lib GAIN on a swing of 27% from Con), for Plaid Cymru, Carmarthen in 1966 (Plaid GAIN on a swing of 18% from Lab) and for the SNP they have the choice of either Hamilton in 1967 (SNP GAIN on a swing of 38% from Lab), Glasgow Govan (1973, SNP GAIN on a swing of 27% from Lab or 1988, SNP GAIN on a swing of 33% from Lab) or more recently Glasgow East in 2008 (SNP GAIN on a swing of 23% from Lab) but my personal favourite (and I suspect Labour’s personal favourite) was Dudley West in 1994 (Lab GAIN on a swing of 21% from Con) because a 21% swing from Con to Lab on the 1992 notional election would produce a House of Commons that had (according to the BBC) no Conservative MP’s and as a result broke their computers who couldn’t work on the concept of there being no Conservative MP’s to represent. Of course since then things have recovered for the Conservatives massively as they gained the seat (now called Dudley South) in 2010 when the by-election victor stood down from Parliament and despite that election winner also standing down in 2015, Mike Wood seems to have this constituency for as long as he wants it. And the same could be said about the council. A Labour majority of 48 in 1996 was whittled away by 2003 and by 2011 had become a Conservative majority of 14 before swinging back to Labour in 2012 with the Conservatives recovering in 2015 at the expense of UKIP, all posing the question if UKIP are suffering losses to the Conservatives, can they take control of the council in May?

Catterick (Con defence) on Richmondshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 21, Independents 7, Richmondshire Independents 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 8)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Independent 570 (44%)
Conservatives 528, 392 (40%)
Green Paty 208 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Jill McMullon (Ind), Simon Young (Con)

Richmondshire has had a long track record of, if not cocking a snook at political convention, then at least saying “We respect the political parties in the United Kingdom at a Westminster level, but we are our own people!”. You only have to look at some of the parties that been elected over the years to the council. In 1991, in the Bolton Manor ward, an Independent Liberal Democrat was elected unopposed. In 1995, an Independent Conservative was elected unopposed in the Scorton ward. In 1999, the Social Democrats won both seats in the forerunner to this ward (Catterick and Tunstall) and in 2003, the Richmondshire Independents started to make their presence felt which therefore means that with just a Conservative and an Independent standing, you do have to think the Independent starts off as the favourite to win (but given this streak perhaps the electors of Catterick will say “Ah, that’s what convention would say, we spit in the eye of convention!”)

Studley with Sambourne (Con defence) on Stratford upon Avon
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 31, Liberal Democrats 3, Labour 1, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 655 (33%), Liberal Democrat 628 (31%), Labour 364 (18%), United Kingdom Independence Party 207 (10%), Independent 111 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Paul Beaman (Con), Nick Moon (Ind), Nigel Rogers (United Kingdom Independence Party), Karen Somner-Brown (Lab), Hazel Wright (Lib Dem)

I know I live in Ceredigion, but I’m a Warwickshire child at heart, having been brought up in the villages and towns of both South and North Warwickshire I feel that I know the area just as much as I know this area and the villages of Studley and Sambourne are ones that I have travelled through on many an occasion, so when it was announced that Stratford council was switching from third elections to all out elections on a single member ward basis I rubbed my hands with glee and instantly created a spreadsheet with the results and as they declared the council to be a Conservative HOLD I instantly posted online a battleground for the next elections noting that if there was a Lib Dem swing of 7% at those next elections the Liberal Democrats would win an extra eight seats (taking their tally to 11) seven of which would come from the Conservatives (24) and one from Labour and reducing the Conservative majority to 12. What I did not expect however was a by-election in target number 2 (0.67% swing for Lib Dems to gain) where the resigning Conservative councillor stood again as an Independent!

Compiled by Harry Hayfield

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