Monday, 11 July 2016

By-election Previews: 14 July 2016

Ten local by-election this week.  Two covered here, six over on the English Elections blog, and another two on the Cornish Elections blog.

Gwynedd council
Caused respectively by the resignations of independent councillor Chris O'Neal and Plaid Cymru councillor Siân Gwenllian.  O'Neal, who has served since 2012, resigned after pleading guilty to assaulting an employee of the taxi firm he formerly ran; he also spent part of last year in court being cleared of a blackmail charge.  Gwenllian was first elected in 2008, and is moving on to bigger things after being elected as Plaid Cymru AM for Arfon in this year's Senedd election.

Penrhyn Avenue, Maesgeirchen
North Wales is having a bumper crop of by-elections this month, with a poll in Llandudno last week and a third Gwynedd poll coming up next week.  Marchog division consists entirely of Maesgeirchen, a huge isolated 1930s-era council estate cut off from the city of Bangor by Bangor Mountain.  57% of the households are still socially rented - one of the top 40 figures in England and Wales - and the demographic indicators are as bad as you'd expect from an isolated council estate, with only 28% of the workforce in full-time employment and high scores in every other category for economic activity except "self-employed" and "retired".

Doing better is Y Felinheli, a village on the south bank of the Menai and historically a port; in 1825 a narrow-gauge railway opened connecting the village with the Dinorwic slate quarry in Llanberis, and readers of a certain age might know the village better under the name of Port Dinorwic.  During the Second World War Y Felinheli was a centre for building landing craft, and its harbour is still in use today for pleasure boating and sailing. The village's location midway between Bangor and Caernarfon means there is commuting to both towns, and a number of Bangor University students live here.

Gwenllian never faced a contested election in her eight years on Gwynedd council, having been unopposed in 2008 and 2012.  The last contested election in Y Felinheli was in 2004 with Labour narrowly beating an independent candidate.  Marchog's representation had a clearout in 2012, with the previous Labour and Independent councillors losing their seats to two new independent councillors.

Both by-elections are straight fights.  In Marchog the defending independent candidate Dylan Fernley is challenged by Labour's Luke Tugwell; both candidates give addresses on the estate.  In Y Felinheli the new Plaid candidate is Gareth Griffith, who is opposed by Bangor-based Conservative candidate Andrew Kinsman.

May 2012 result Ind 365/248/76 Lab 218/143
May 2008 result Lab 247/184 Ind 202
June 2004 result Lab 324/172 Ind 303

Y Felinheli
May 2012 result PC unopposed
May 2008 result PC unopposed
June 2004 result Lab 384 Ind 354

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