Tuesday, 15 December 2015

By-election Preview: 16 December 2015

One by-election on Wednesday 16th December:

Conwy county borough council, North Wales
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Janet Howarth, who is now a member of the Senedd having taken over Antionette Sandbach's seat following Sandbach's election to Parliament in May.  Howarth had served on Conwy council since 2008, originally for the neighbouring Mostyn ward.

The name "Gogarth" refers to the Welsh name of the Great Orme, that huge limestone headland which dominates the North Welsh coast and the town of Llandudno.  The Great Orme has been populated for a very long time, with copper being mined here during the Bronze Age in workings that were first abandoned around 600 BC.  In mediaeval times the Bishop of Bangor had a palace on the Orme's south-west corner, although a combination of coastal erosion and Owain Glyndwr means that there isn't much of it left.  In Victorian times the town of Llandudno was created at the bottom of the Orme as a seaside resort, with a tramway (Britain's only remaining cable-hauled tramway) and now a cable car connecting the town to the summit, from which there are views as far away as the Lake District and the Isle of Man.

Beautiful as the Orme is, from a psephological perspective the interest lies in the town of Llandudno below it, of which this division is the northern part.  Here can be found part of the town centre along Mostyn Street, the West Parade, the North Parade and the Pier, together with an awful lot of hotels and guest houses.  This part of town has a decent Tory vote of around 30%, which is usually enough to win against divided opposition: not good news for Howarth the first time she fought the ward in 2004, when she was on the Lib Dem slate and came sixth.  In 2012 Tory councillor John Boyle stood down and Howarth did the chicken-run here from the neighbouring Mostyn ward, which is Labour-inclined, prompting the ward's other Tory councillor Margaret Lyon to stand as an independent: Lyon topped the poll with 31% to 27% for the Tories, 24% for Labour and 19% for Plaid Cymru.

Defending for the Tories in this interesting division is Harry Saville, who has recently graduated in International Politics from Aberystwyth and interns with Guto Bebb MP.  Mark Pavey, a heritage consultant, stands as an independent.  The Labour candidate is Llandudno town councillor Deborah Good.  Plaid's Greg Robbins will hope to improve on his sixth-placed finish last time.  Also standing is Roger Boon of the Liberal Democrats.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Aberconwy
ONS Travel to Work Area: Llandudno and Colwyn Bay

May 2012 result Ind 368/212 C 317/248 Lab 279/259 PC 220 Ind 212
May 2008 result C 454/444 Lab 259 PC 248/280 Ind 216 LD 131/92 Ind 107
June 2004 reult C 380/324 Lab 313/154 Ind 296 LD 189/176 Ind 164 Lab 154 Ind 82 Ind 70