Thursday, 2 June 2016

By-election Previews: 2 June 2016

Seven by-elections on 2nd June 2016, one of which is unfinished business from May. Two are covered here, one over on the Scottish Elections blog, and four more on the English Elections blog.

Denbighshire council
Caused respectively by the deaths of Independent councillor Richard Davies and Conservative councillor Peter Owen.  Davies, a retired PE teacher, was in his first term having originally been elected in 2012.  Owen's political career started on the former Rhuddlan district council although his service on the modern county council only goes back to 2004 (when he was elected as an independent).

Denbigh is an old town: it was a Marcher Lordship in the days when those were important things, and was largely destroyed twice in the fifteenth century (once in the Glyndwr revolt, once in the Wars of the Roses). It's basically for those historical reasons that we now have a county called Denbighshire, whose boundaries have never been particularly fit for purpose even in the current incarnation (the pre-1974 Denbighshire was an enormous sprawl which included Wrexham, and the current Denbighshire council is based in Ruthin).  Today Denbigh is a sleepy market town overlooking the Vale of Clwyd midway between St Asaph and Ruthin, with its main industries (glove-making and the North Wales psychiatric hospital) having died a death in recent years.  The Denbigh Lower ward is one of three covering the town, being the eastern part of Denbigh running down to the River Clwyd.

Further down the Vale of Clwyd is Dyserth, a village just south of Prestatyn tucked under the Clwydian Hills and whose economy was traditionally based on quarrying.

Both of these divisions lie within the marginal constituency of Vale of Clwyd, which is Tory at Westminster but was held by Labour in the Senedd election last month.  However, Denbigh Lower's local politics, as in much of rural Wales, is dominated by independents, with independent councillor John Bartley having a large personal vote.  Davies won his seat in 2012 gaining his seat from Plaid Cymru; he had a 74-vote majority over a third independent candidate.  Previous results for Dyserth suggest that it may be a better indicator of the national picture, with Labour having cut Peter Owen's majority to 51-38 in the 2012 election; Owen had a larger majority in 2008 and was unopposed (as an independent candidate) in 2004.

Both by-elections have attracted a large field.  In Denbigh Lower the defending independent candidate is Mark Young, a chocolatier, who was runner-up in 2012.  Plaid have selected Rhys Thomas.  Also standing are Gwyn Williams for the Lib Dems, Lara Pritchard for the Tories and John McGuire for Labour.  Dyserth will be defended for the Tories by community councillor Andy Hughes, who was the independent runner-up here in 2008; Labour have selected welfare rights manager Richard Jones-Abbas, and also standing are Heather Prydderch for the Lib Dems, independent community councillor Dave Parry, independent David Williams and Plaid's Janice Williams.

Denbigh Lower
Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Vale of Clwyd

May 2012 result Ind 977/579/505/204 PC 386 LD 138 C 1118
May 2008 result Ind 993 PC 664 C 471 Lab 261
June 2004 result PC 678 Ind 664/587/477

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Vale of Clwyd

May 2012 result C 369 Lab 275 LD 84
May 2008 result C 327 Ind 181 Lab 87 LD 58 PC 56
June 2004 result Ind unopposed

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