Thursday, 11 July 2013

By-Election Preview: 11 July 2013

We are aware of four by-elections on 11th July.  Three English by-elections are covered on the English Elections blog.  Meanwhile, the Conservatives are on the defensive in Snowdonia.

Conwy County Borough Council, North Wales; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Paul Roberts.

Cottages, Llanbedr-y-cennin
  © Copyright Jonathan Wilkins and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Sometimes your columnist takes advantage of good visibility to climb Winter Hill, near Bolton.  From the summit of Winter Hill four national parks can be seen, including a rather distant Snowdonia to the west-south-west.  Peering through the wind turbines of North Hoyle, off Prestatyn, first the Great Orme can be seen looming out of the Irish Sea, then there is a gap to the left of it before the horizon starts to climb to a series of peaks - the Carneddau.  Snowdon can be seen to the left of the Carneddau, but appears lower down because of its greater distance, so the highest point on the horizon is Snowdonia's second-highest point, the 3495-foot Carnedd Llewelyn. 

Llewelyn's summit lies at the western corner of the Caerhun electoral division, whose western boundary runs north along the ridge of the Carneddau all the way to the outskirts of Conwy.  All of this is, of course, within the Snowdonia National Park.  However, these heights are not settled and the division's population can be found in a series of villages on the western side of the Conwy estuary, from Henryd in the north to Tal-y-bont in the south.  Settlement in this area goes back a long way: the Caer in Caerhûn refers to a fort, and that fort is the Roman fort of Canovium, established around AD 75 to control a crossing of the River Conwy.

Rural Wales is the sort of area where the candidate matters more than the party, and Caerhun division was for many years the personal fiefdom of independent councillor Goronwy Edwards, a former leader of Conwy council.  However, that only applied up until 2012 when he lost his seat to the Conservatives, who had not previously contested the division, by just six votes.

The defending Conservative candidate in the by-election is Neil Bradshaw, a sales representative from Tal-y-bont.  His main opposition will come from Henryd-based Goronwy Edwards, who wants his seat back.  Plaid Cymru have nominated Pered Morris, who gives an address in the Llanrwst area, and the Labour candidate is Siân Peake-Jones, from the hamlet of Rowen at the centre of the division.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Aberconwy
Assembly electoral region: North Wales
ONS Travel to Work Area: Llandudno and Colwyn Bay

Neil Bradshaw (C)
Goronwy Edwards (Ind)
Pered Morris (PC)
Siân Peake-Jones (Lab)

May 2012 result C 352 Ind 346 PC 168
May 2008 result Ind 492 LD 289
June 2004 result Ind 675 Lab 234

Monday, 8 July 2013

By-Election Result: 4 July 2013

Labour easily held this suburban Swansea ward with no real pressure from any of the other parties.  The Lib Dems only narrowly avoided embarassment, only five votes ahead of the National Front.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

By-Election Preview: 4 July 2013

There are five by-elections on 4 July 2013 with both the major parties in action.  The Conservatives and Labour are both defending seats in England, covered on the English Elections blog.  Meanwhile, Labour has a safe seat to defend in Swansea.

Swansea City Council; caused by the death of the Lord Mayor of Swansea Dennis James at the age of 68, from pancreatic cancer.  First elected to Llansamlet division in 1985, James, a Labour councillor, spent his working life in the construction industry and had a degree in civil engineering from Swansea University.

Bryn Teg
  © Copyright Burgess Von Thunen and licensed
for reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Centred on junction 44 of the M4 motorway, this is a suburban ward to the north-east of Swansea, containing the communities of Llansamlet (south of the motorway) and Birchgrove (north of the motorway).  Llansamlet was a coal-mining area originally, but in 1981 much of the former mining property was designated as the UK's first enterprise zone and has now been extensively redeveloped into Swansea Enterprise Park, Swansea's largest out-of-town shopping area and a major centre for local employment; Morgan Crucible, the Land Registry and Welsh Water are major employers here.  Llansamlet also has a railway station, with trains every two hours to Swansea and Cardiff (no Sunday service).

One of the few remaining four-seat wards in Wales, from 2004 to 2012 the Labour Party held three of the four seats with the fourth going to independent councillor June Evans, who topped the poll at the 2004 election but lost her seat heavily in 2012.  The Liberal Democrats came quite close in a July 2007 by-election, the Swansea East constituency being a target for them at the time, but that was the closest Labour have come to losing this ward to another party.

It's unusual for local by-election candidates to have their own Wikipedia pages, but such is the case for the defending Labour candidate Bob Clay, who was the MP for Sunderland North between 1983 and 1992.  Labour have presumably forgiven Clay, who will join his wife as a ward councillor if elected, for being election agent to Reg Keys in his run against Tony Blair at the 2005 general election.  The Tories are running James Hatton, deputy chairman of Swansea East Conservatives, while the Lib Dems have selected party staffer Samuel Rees.  The ballot paper is completed by Claire Thomas, standing for the National Front.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Swansea East
Assembly region: South Wales West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Swansea Bay

Robert Clay (Lab)
James Hatton (C)
Samuel Rees (LD)
Claire Thomas (NF)

May 2012 result Lab 2185/2154/2051/1971 Ind 952 C 354/335/328
May 2008 result Lab 1119/1109/919/877 Ind 912/753/722 BNP 635 PC 616 C 520/511/475/361 LD 411/379
July 2007 by-election Lab 769 LD 581 C 283 BNP 226 Ind 221
June 2004 result Ind 1176 Lab 1063/1062/975/939 PC 770 LD 598 C 566/509/504