Wednesday, 23 April 2014

By-Election Preview: 24 April 2014

There are four local by-elections taking place this week, rather unusually a lot so close to European and local elections now just four weeks away.  Three contests are covered over on the English Elections blog, and one contest in Caerphilly is covered here.

Caerphilly County Borough Council; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Diana Ellis.

Chartist Bridge, Blackwood
One of the classic mining towns of the South Welsh Valleys, Blackwood can be found in the Sirhowy valley.  Dating from the early nineteenth century it was originally intended as a model village, but clearly things went badly wrong; by the 1830s the terrible working conditions had led to a thriving Chartist group in the village.  Blackwood was the origin of the so-called Newport Rising of 1839, in which local Chartists marched from Blackwood to Newport in what was intended to be part of a national uprising.  Today the most visible reminder of this is the landmark Chartist Bridge, opened in 2005 over the deep Sirhowy valley; it forms part of a relief road taking traffic away from the town centre and intended to regenerate the area following the collapse of the coal industry.

Over the last decade Blackwood has been an Independent v Labour fight.  The three seats in the division split two to Labour and one to wildly popular independent councillor Kevin Etheridge at the 2004 election, the Independents gaining the two Labour seats in 2008.  Labour got a seat back in a July 2010 by-election, caused by Etheridge's resignation for family reasons, and went on to take the other two seats at the most recent ordinary election in 2012.

Defending for Labour is Allan Rees, whose main competition will come from former Independent councillor Keith Smallman, who lost his seat in 2012.  Also standing are regular Plaid candidate Andrew Farina-Childs, a former Mayor of Blackwood, and the Tories' regular by-election candidate for no-hope Caerphilly wards Cameron Muir-Jones.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Islwyn
Assembly electoral region: South Wales East
ONS Travel to Work Area:
Postcode districts:

May 2012 result Lab 1116/966/946 Ind 833/719 PC 352/253/235 C 182/148/144
July 2010 by-election Lab 545 Ind 469 PC 355 C 170
May 2008 result Ind 1794/962/817 Lab 700/681/513 PC 505/504 C 219/212/197
June 2004 result Ind 1994/418 Lab 751/617/616 PC 312/304/304 C 204/190

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