Monday, 23 March 2015

By-election Preview: 19 March 2015

One by-election on 19th March 2015:

RHYL SOUTH WEST
Denbighshire county council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Margaret McCarroll at the age of 80.  A supporter of many voluntary organisations, McCarroll had owned a furniture business for many years and twice served as Mayor of Rhyl; she was in her first term on the county council.

Frederick Street, Rhyl
Obvious name alert: this division covers south-western Rhyl, a generally residential area south of the railway line, running from Rhyl railway station to the banks of the Clwyd estuary.  The census paints a picture of a very working-class division, with high levels of social renting, no qualifications, unemployment, sickness and routine occupations: the sort of things which often come up in depressed seaside towns, and Rhyl, whose economy is based on tourism and its beach, most certainly fits that definition.  The North Wales Daily Post reported this week that Rhyl station - on the division's northern boundary - is one of the most violent in Britain, although this may be more of a statistical freak with only twelve such incidents reported there in 2013-14.  At the eastern end of the ward is the Corbett Sports Stadium, home of the Welsh Premier League side Rhyl FC.

Perhaps not surprisingly this is a very safe Labour division.  Not even the deselection of the division's two Labour councillors for the 2012 election could make any dent in the Labour majority: in that election the official Labour slate polled 68%, while the two outgoing Labour councillors stood as an independent slate and came in second with 16%.  The division lies within the Vale of Clwyd constituency, which is a Labour-held marginal at Parliamentary level and safe Labour in the Welsh Assembly.

Defending for Labour is Rhyl town councillor Pete Prendergast.  He will face opposition from independent candidate Diana Hannam, a former Mayor of Rhyl who stood as a Tory candidate in the 2012 elections; the official Tory candidate Melanie Jones; David Dear of the Lib Dems, who stood here in 2012 and polled 6%; and David Wilmot who is the division's first Plaid candidate this century.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Vale of Clwyd
ONS Travel to Work Area: Rhyl and Denbigh

David Dear (LD)
Diana Hannam (Ind)
Melanie Jones (C)
Pete Prendergast (Lab)
David Wilmot (PC)

May 2012 result Lab 797/647 Ind 184/141 C 116/96 LD 71
May 2008 result Lab 587/532 C 267/266 BNP 138
June 2004 result Lab 599/563 Ind 355

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