Thursday, 30 June 2016

By-election Preview: 30 June 2016

Five local by-elections this week.  Four covered over on the English Elections blog, and one below.

Vale of Glamorgan council
Caused by the death of independent councillor Philip Clarke in a motorcycle accident.  A former commercial pilot, he had served since 2012.

Rhoose and District Social Club, Rhoose
Wales' southernmost mainland division, Rhoose is a large rural electoral unit in the centre of the Vale of Glamorgan.  Rhoose itself, just to the west of Barry, is a fast-growing commuter village for Cardiff with excellent transport links: it is the location for Cardiff Airport which takes up a lot of the division's acreage, and its railway station on the Vale of Glamorgan line reopened in 2005 with the longest name on the National Rail network: the 33-letter "Rhoose Cardiff International Airport".  Also within the ward is the rural community of Llancarfan, which in the sixth century was a clas (ecclesiastical community) associated with St Cadoc.

Philip Clarke had topped the poll in this two-seat division in the 2012 election with 37% of the vote, gaining his seat from the Conservatives whose slate had 34% (the other 30% went to Labour); the Tory loss was an embarrassing one as the councillor who lost his seat was the Leader of the Council, Gordon Kemp.  Clarke had previously fought the division in 2008 as the Plaid Cymru candidate, finishing as a distant runner-up four votes ahead of the Lib Dems' Eluned Parrott; Parrott would go on to be elected to the Welsh Assembly in bizarre circumstances in 2011, being promoted to first on the Lib Dem list for South Wales Central after the original lead candidate turned out to hold an office which disqualified him from membership of the Senedd.

Two independent candidates have come forward to succeed Clarke: Rachel Banner is a long-standing anti-devolution campaigner and was the main spokesperson for the "no" side in the 2011 referendum on giving law-making powers to the Senedd, while Adam Riley is campaigning to stop Vale of Glamorgan council closing Rhoose Library.  Former Vale of Glamorgan council leader Gordon Kemp, having lost his seat in 2012, wants it back and is the Conservative candidate.  The Labour candidate is Graham Loveluck-Edwards, a digital marketing manager, scrapyard director and chairman of Rhoose Runners.  Completing a crowded ballot paper are James Fyfe of the Pirate Party, the Lib Dems' Robin Lynn and the Plaid candidate Ian Perry.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Vale of Glamorgan

May 2012 result Ind 882 C 810/727 Lab 713
May 2008 result C 1169/1143 PC 556 LD 552 Lab 520
June 2004 result C 1240/1085 Lab 729

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