Monday, 16 February 2015

By-election Preview: 19 February 2015

Carmarthenshire county council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor George Edwards at the age of 68.  A Carmarthenshire councillor since 2012, Edwards was known for his community work; his death was announced on the opening day of Ysgol Ffrwnes, a new school in the division which he had championed.  Before becoming a councillor Edwards had a varied life, having worked as an apprentice toolmaker, fitter and club steward.

Pwll Post Office
This is a rather misnamed division: immediately to the north-west of Llanelli, this is a rural area full of hamlets.  Hengoed is not of them: the Hengoed-fawr and Hengoed-fach hamlets lie within the neighbouring division of Felinfoel.  Such is life.  Actually within the division are the Furnace area on the outskirts of Llanelli, the village of Pwll on the road towards Burry Port, together with the site of one of the most famous venues in Welsh sport: the now-demolished Stradey Park, formerly the home of Llanelli Scarlets.  Every Welshman of a certain age will claim to have been in Stradey Park on the night that Llanelli beat the All Blacks.

This division has generally been typical of the Llanelli constituency as a whole, in that it is a key fight between Labour and Plaid Cymru.  The two parties split the ward's two seats in 2004 although that was partly due to Labour only fielding one candidate.  Plaid surged into first place in 2008, but then appear to have got into difficulties: one of the Plaid councillors, Sian Caiach, walked off to join the localist group People First, and was re-elected in 2012 under her new colours.  Labour gained the ward's other seat in what was a close three-way marginal: the votes in 2012 were 28% each for Labour and People First, 26% for Plaid and 18% for independent candidates.

This by-election will be a family affair.  Defending for Labour is George Edwards' widow Penny, from Pwll, while People First have selected George's nephew Wynford Samuel.  Samuel lives on Sandy Road, as does Plaid's candidate Martin Davies who represents the ward on Llanelli Rural community council.  Former Labour county councillor Edward Skinner is standing as an independent.  Also on the ballot paper are the Tories' Martin Davies and UKIP's Bramwell Richards.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Llanelli
ONS Travel to Work Area: Swansea Bay
Postcode districts: SA15, SA16 (one postcode)

Martin Davies (PC)
Stephen Davies (C)
Penny Edwards (Lab)
Bramwell Richards (UKIP)
Wynford Samuel (People First)
Edward Skinner (Ind)

May 2012 result Lab 338/253 People First 337/261 PC 315/271 Ind 213/89
May 2008 result PC 628/516 Lab 359/334 Ind 270/217
June 2004 result Lab 432 PC 398/359 Ind 271 C 157/127

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