Wednesday, 29 July 2015

By-election Preview: 23 July 2015

Five by-elections on 23rd July 2015, four covered over on English Elections, and the remaining one here.

Caerphilly county borough council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Gerald Jones, who is now the MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.

There's not a lot to say about New Tredegar really: it's an ex-pit village deep in the Rhymney Valley, with everything that implies.  Almost uniformly British, 42% of the adult population have no qualifications, and there are high levels of unemployment, long-term sickness and routine occupations.  The division includes all of the village together with other hamlets in the valley which are part of the New Tredegar community, such as Brithdir.  The ward is linked to Cardiff by Brithdir and Tir-Phil railway stations on the Rhymney Valley line.

Labour have not been seriously challenged in this ward in the last few elections, and in 2012 the two Labour councillors were opposed only by a single Independent candidate who lost by 73% to 27%.  The ward's other Labour councillor died shortly afterwards, and Labour did even better in the resulting by-election, polling 85% against opposition from Plaid (12%) and the Tories.

This second by-election in New Tredegar in the 2012-2016 term is defended for Labour by Mark Evans.  He is opposed by Robert Lea for the Tories and Ian Gorman for UKIP.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

Oct 2012 by-election Lab 692 PC 95 C 24
May 2012 result Lab 965/744 Ind 362
May 2008 result Lab 930/804 PC 325/310
June 2004 result Lab 1083/928 PC 326

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

By-election Preview: 16 July 2015

Apologies for the lack of an article last week - your regular writer was unfortunately unwell, and your editor was too busy settling into his new day job to stand in.  One of these days I might actually clear my to-do list...

Eight by-elections on 16th July 2015, six in England and two in Wales:

Denbighshire county council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor James Davies, who is now MP for the Vale of Clwyd after gaining the seat from Labour in May's general election.

Welcome to Sunny Prestatyn, a minor seaside resort on the North Wales coast.  The home town of Carol Vorderman and John Prescott, Prestatyn marks the north end of the Clwydian hills and the Offa's Dyke Path, and its wide sandy beach has good views of the North Hoyle offshore wind farm.  The Prestatyn East division includes the eastern end of the town and the Pontin's holiday camp, once the venue for qualification rounds for the major snooker tournaments.

The voters of Prestatyn East prefer the blue in their break-building; at the last election in 2012 the Conservatives had 42% of the vote to 29% for Labour and 26% for an independent slate.  The Tories have selected William Davies.  Carol Holliday stands for Labour.  There are two competing independent candidates, Gary Bourne ("Prestatyn Independent") and former Prestatyn town councillor Mike German.  Scott Brown, the ward's first Lib Dem candidate this century, completes the ballot paper.

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

May 2012 result C 524/463 Lab 364/341 Ind 322/300 Grn 50
May 2008 result C 847/739 Lab 320
June 2004 result C 620/564 PC 303 Ind 294 Lab 264 Ind 185 PC 141

Wrexham county borough council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Malcolm Taylor.

A few miles north of Wrexham, Llay is a pit village mostly dating from the twentieth century.  Llay Main Colliery was at one time Wales' largest colliery and, when it closed in 1966, was the deepest pit in the UK.  While the mine has long gone, there is still industry in the area, including a Sharp Electronics factory which until 2013 manufactured solar panels.  Both Welsh by-elections this week have a snooker connection: Llay's snooker connection is that Dennis Taylor now lives here.

Llay's local politics is, like snooker, a contest between the white (Independent) and the reds (Labour) - a pattern common to many ex-coalmining areas.  The independents were on top here in 2004 and 2008; Malcolm Taylor was elected for the division in 2012 after losing in 2004 by 54 votes and in 2008 by just five votes.  In 2012 the Labour slate defeated the two independent councillors 65-35.

Defending for Labour is Pete Evans.  There are two independent candidates, David Dodd (who stood here in 2008) and David Broderick.  Also standing are Jeanette Bassford-Barton for UKIP, Emlyn Phennah for the Tories and Rob Walsh for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Wrexham
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wrexham and Whitchurch

May 2012 result Lab 825/702 Ind 450/340
May 2008 result Ind 748/563/391 Lab 558/146

June 2004 result Ind 757/611 Lab 557/472

By-election Preview: 30 June 2015

One by-election on Tuesday 30th June:

Cardiff city council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Craig Williams, who is now MP for Cardiff North.  He had served on Cardiff city council since winning a 2008 by-election.

This division is a rural area, covering the villages of Pentyrch and Gwaelod-y-Garth and part of Taff's Well to the north-west of Cardiff.  The division lies on the slopes of Garth Hill, thought to the inspiration for the book "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain", which gives good views of the city of Cardiff and the Bristol Channel.  Taff's Well is named after a hot spring, the only spa in Wales, but its traditional industry was ironworking.  Pentyrch division was annexed by Cardiff in 1996 and, according to the 2011 census, has Cardiff's largest proportion of Welsh speakers.

In 2004 Pentyrch was a three-way marginal, with Labour topping the poll on 35%, four points ahead of the Conservatives who were themselves five points ahead of Plaid.  The Conservatives gained the division from Labour in 2008 with a majority of 49 votes, but their new councillor Simon Roberts had to resign almost immediately on health grounds.  Craig Williams held the by-election in July 2008 with a majority of 12 votes, and made his seat safe in 2012 with a 54%-29% win over Labour, the Plaid score dropping to 12%.

The defending Conservative candidate is Gavin Hill John, who is campaigning against the planned reopening of Creigiau quarry nearby.  Labour have selected Paul Fisher, a barrister.  Plaid's candidate is local businessman Hywel Wigley, Ruth Osner stands for the Greens, Cadan ap Tomos for the Lib Dems and Munawar Mughal is an independent candidate.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Cardiff West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Cardiff

May 2012 result C 772 Lab 413 PC 171 Grn 40 LD 22
July 2008 by-election C 554 Lab 542 PC 129 LD 97
May 2008 result C 478 Lab 429 PC 275 LD 110 Ind 99
June 2004 result Lab 482 C 421 PC 358 LD 134