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

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