Previews: 12 Oct 2017

“All the right votes, but not necessarily in the right order”

As in the first week of October 2017, the second week sees eight by-elections. Three of these are collateral damage from the snap general election as the new Labour MP for Warrington South and the new Conservative MPs for Gordon and Mansfield – surprising results all – give up their council seats to concentrate on their new careers in Westminster. Overall Labour defend five seats this week and the Conservatives defend three; there is a definite northern bias with four of the eight by-elections taking place in the North West or Yorkshire and only one south of Watford. But we start with our northernmost poll of the week, a Tory defence in Scotland. Read on…

Inverurie and District

Aberdeenshire council; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Colin Clark, who is now MP for Gordon. He had served since winning a by-election in November 2016.

We start this week in Scotland with a poll which in one sense sets the tone for the week. Three of the eight polls in this second week of October are fallout from the snap general election, caused by newly elected MPs resigning their council seats. In many ways the gain of the Gordon seat by councillor Colin Clark was one of the most impressive of all the results in June’s general election, given who Clark was up against: Alex Salmond had been defying political gravity for years and can’t have expected his political career to come down to earth so suddenly. It wasn’t the best of weeks for Wee Eck on a personal level either: his father had died in the week before the general election, and his sister lost a Scottish Parliament by-election on the same day.

Salmond’s vanquisher may have only been a councillor for a matter of months, but Colin Clark had shown his potential by standing in the 2016 Holyrood election for the local seat of Aberdeenshire East, obtaining a 17% swing from the SNP and taking second place off the Lib Dems. Six months later he was an Aberdeenshire councillor, leading the first round in the 2016 Inverurie and District by-election with 39%, to 35% for the SNP and 22% for the Lib Dems, and picking up strong transfers to eventually defeat the SNP 56-44. Five months after that Clark had been re-elected for a full term in Inverurie and District ward, topping the poll with 36% to 28% for the SNP, 20% for independent candidate Judy White, and 12% for the Liberal Democrats who picked up Clark’s surplus to win the final seat. Five weeks later, Clark was in Parliament. With that sort of trajectory, who knows where Colin Clark could end up by the end of this Parliament? One to watch, perhaps.

In the meantime we have the business of electing Clark’s successor as an Aberdeenshire councillor. Clark’s seat was based on the town of Inverurie, on the main road and railway line from Aberdeen to Inverness. Inverurie is an industrial town: the Aberdeenshire Canal came here in 1806 to link it to Aberdeen, and for most of the twentieth century it was home to the locomotive works for the Great North of Scotland Railway. The local non-league football team is still called Inverurie Loco Works, but these days the main game in town is oil. As well as being a commuter base for Aberdeen, Inverurie is a base for the North Sea oil industry and its population is booming: the boundary review done for the first PR election to Aberdeenshire council effectively increased its representation from three councillors to four. In that 2007 election those four councillors split two to the Liberal Democrats, one to the SNP and one to the Conservatives; the Lib Dems lost one seat to the SNP in 2012 and the other to the Conservatives in the 2016 by-election. That by-election came about as the result of a bizarre scandal in which the Lib Dem councillor, Martin Kitts-Hayes, returned early from an official trip to the North Sea Commission at Legoland in Denmark, because he was unhappy with his accommodation. Inevitably, the press called it “Legogate”. The ward survived a boundary review this year unchanged, consisting of the town and a small rural hinterland.

An SNP gain in this by-election will allow the Nationalists to draw level with the Conservatives as the largest party on Aberdeenshire council, but the administration is not in danger: the Conservatives, Lib Dems and some independent councillors have formed a coalition to run the council with a secure majority.

Defending for the Conservatives is local resident Lesley Berry, who has the benefit of the Scottish Tories’ heavy artillery: Ruth Davidson was up in Inverurie to support her campaign a couple of weeks ago. The SNP have selected Elaine Mitchell, a retired midwife. The Liberal Democrat candidate is Scott Bremner, who gives an address in Ellon. Also standing are Sarah Flavell of Labour, who fought the ward in May, and Craig Stewart of the Greens.

Parliamentary constituency: Gordon
Holyrood constituency: Aberdeenshire East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Aberdeen
Postcode districts: AB51, AB52

Lesley Berry (C)
Scott Bremner (LD)
Sarah Flavell (Lab)
Elaine Mitchell (SNP)
Craig Stewart (Grn)

May 2017 first preferences C 1732 SNP 1330 Ind 982 LD 568 Lab 206
November 2016 by-election C 1302 SNP 1164 LD 755 Lab 139; after transfers C 1701 SNP 1341
May 2012 first preferences SNP 1300 C 608 LD 606 Lab 463 Ind 407 Grn 113
May 2007 first preferences LD 2181 SNP 1515 C 762 Lab 567 Ind 123


Wyre council, Lancashire; caused by the death of Labour councillor Edwin “Ted” Taylor, who had served since 2003 and was Deputy Mayor of Wyre in 2007-08.

For our first English by-election of the week we are on the western Fylde coast, which may be marked by sandy beaches but here is rather more desolate than even Blackpool on a bad day. We’re in the town of Fleetwood, a Victorian town dating from the 1830s when it was extensively redeveloped by Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, the local landowner, MP and High Sheriff of Lancaster. Hesketh-Fleetwood had his house at Rossall Hall, a now-demolished residence in what is now the south-western corner of the town.

The main feature of the ward is Rossall School, a fee-paying school next to the tram line to Blackpool which dates from Fleetwood’s initial expansion: Rossall School was founded in 1844 as a sister to Marlborough College, and has an impressive list of former pupils. Old Rossallians include musicians as diverse as Thomas Beecham and Little Boots, authors from Leslie Charteris to J G Ballard, a number of former MPs (although none currently serving) and a Head of State: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the President of Peru, was a pupil at Rossall School in the 1950s. Somewhat later than PPK, Dan Dare also passed through Rossall, becoming School Captain in the early 1980s. The presence of Rossall School rather skews the ward’s census statistics – the census district covering the school had 17% of its population born in China and 11% in Germany, and the school puts the ward named after it into the top 50 wards in England and Wales for 16- and 17-year-olds. Rossall ward is also in the top 100 for those who did not answer the census’ religion question.

Fleetwood is not the most prosperous of towns – its fishing fleet, the town’s traditional economic mainstay, was destroyed by the Cod Wars with Iceland, several attempts to establish a ferry link to the Isle of Man or Ireland have foundered, and the main remaining industries are fish processing and Lofthouse’s delicious Fisherman’s Friends. Rossall ward includes a very deprived census district, and this creates a Labour-voting political profile for the ward, although Rossall is not safe: the Tories came within seven points of Labour in 2011 and in the 2015 election – when the ward survived a boundary review unchanged – the Labour share fell further although their lead increased slightly. Shares of the vote in that 2015 election were 39% for Labour, 30% for the Conservatives and 24% for UKIP.

A boundary change for this year’s county elections transferred Rossall into a new division based on Tory-voting Cleveleys; the resulting “Fleetwood West and Cleveleys West” was in the Conservative column in May’s county elections and formed part of the Tory group of 46 councillors which took over County Hall with an overall majority of eight. Less than five months later, an amazing series of misfortunes and self-inflicted wounds has seen that majority all but wiped out. Two Tory county councillors have left the group after falling out with the council leader, a third has been thrown out of the party for overclaiming thousands of pounds in council tax benefit, and a fourth has recently died, cutting the Tory majority to one. And there may be more to come: a fifth Tory county councillor has been suspended for alleged anti-Islamic comments on social media, and the Leader of the Council, no less, is being investigated by police on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and intimidating witnesses. This is the sort of stuff local government watchers expect to see from UKIP, not from a serious political party. The bizarreness doesn’t end at County Hall either: the ruling Conservative group on Wyre council have recently deposed their group and council leader, ostensibly on health grounds, and his interim replacement has been attacked by the Labour group for having previously served a Standards Board suspension for bringing the council into disrepute.

To further add to the mix, this by-election has not thus far been run fully in accordance with electoral law. Now council by-elections in England and Wales don’t just happen automatically: they have to be called, and this is done by two electors from the ward writing to the returning officer asking for a by-election to be held to fill a vacancy. (The process is normally orchestrated by the political parties and tends to be done fairly promptly: on the other hand, the Council of the Isles of Scilly had a vacancy for its entire 2013-17 term due to insufficient candidates from the island of Bryher.) Once the returning officer gets the call, he is required by law to hold a poll within 35 working days. In the case of Rossall, that didn’t happen. Ted Taylor died in March and the request for an election was duly made in early August – a little later than normal, but not an unheard-of delay. However, the returning officer has refused to hold a poll until now, 52 working days later, citing staff shortages.

We wait to see whether this by-election will contribute to the strangest crisis in Lancashire since a dead pheasant got into Preston and the Fylde’s water supply a couple of years ago. Defending for Labour is Cheryl Raynor, a Fleetwood town councillor. The Conservatives have selected Maggie Pattinson, who gives an address some distance away in the village of Pilling. With UKIP withdrawing from the fray, the ballot paper is completed by local resident Brian Crawford, a former Cumbria county councillor (representing Millom as a Conservative from 2013 until May this year) standing as an independent.

Parliamentary constituency: Lancaster and Fleetwood
Lancashire county council division: Fleetwood West and Cleveleys West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Blackpool
Postcode districts: FY5, FY7

Brian Crawford (Ind)
Maggie Pattinson (C)
Cheryl Raynor (Lab)

May 2015 result Lab 1085/1064/989 C 841/831/791 UKIP 659 Ind 218/173/148/91
May 2011 result Lab 841/801/758 C 698/684/655 UKIP 320/233 Ind 193
May 2007 result Lab 826/790/737 C 632/631/539 UKIP 394
May 2003 result Lab 953/950/886 C 486/463/459

Chapelford and Old Hall

Warrington council, Cheshire; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Faisal Rashid, who is now MP for Warrington South. He had served since 2011, originally being elected for Whittle Hall ward and transferring to this ward in 2016.

For the North West’s other by-election we are in the new town of Warrington. While the Old Hall itself – Bewsey Old Hall, to be precise – was home to the Lords of the Manor of Warrington from the thirteenth century onwards, this ward is one of the most recently developed parts of town. Chapelford is a fast-growing urban area in the north-west of Warrington, located between Whittle Avenue and Cromwell Avenue; the area was once close to the US Air Force base at Burtonwood, and many of its street names (Boston Boulevard being the most prominent) are on an American theme. Most of the ward’s housing has gone up since 2000 or even in this decade, and because of that the 2011 census might no longer be all that reliable here; for what it’s worth, Whittle Hall ward (which covered most of this area in 2011) had a demographic of young families then with relatively high education levels and very high full-time employment. It’s not surprising that Chapelford has an attracted an urban professional demographic given the proximity of the area to the motorway network: M62 junction 8 is a short distance away, providing easy access to both Liverpool and Manchester, the head office of the local water company United Utilities is just outside the ward boundary, and Warrington is a centre of the nuclear and distribution industries (as all the new distribution centres going up next to the M62 testify). Also in the ward is Old Hall, an older New Town area which includes a very deprived census district.

The Whittle Hall ward which covered this area until 2016 tended to be a Labour versus Lib Dem marginal: Faisal Rashid gained his seat in 2011 from the Lib Dems, and at the time of the ward’s abolition Labour held two seats to the Lib Dems’ one. The boundary changes last year took account of the strong population growth by removing the Whittle Hall estate itself to Great Sankey North ward, and that improved the Labour position in the cut-down Chapelford and Old Hall ward. At the only previous election on these boundaries, in 2016, Labour had 45% – clearly boosted by a personal vote for Rashid – to 21% for the Lib Dems and 18% for the Conservatives. On a personal note, the Lib Dem slate that year included David Knapp, an engineer whom your columnist has got to know from the UK quiz circuit; this column is grateful to David for help with this section.

Defending for Labour is Paul Warburton, a nurse and lecturer at Edge Hill University who represents most of the ward on Great Sankey parish council. The Lib Dems have reselected maths teacher Allan Bird, who fought the ward in 2015 and was top of their slate here last year. Hoping to get back on Warrington council is Conservative candidate Phil Hayward, a former Warrington councillor (for the wonderfully-named Locking Stumps, Gorse Covert and Risley ward, 1991-97) and more recently mayor of Didcot in Oxfordshire in 2011-12. Completing the ballot paper are Ian Wilson for UKIP and Stephanie Davies for the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Warrington South (Central ward of Great Sankey parish); Warrington North (Old Hall ward of Burtonwood and Westbrook parish)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Warrington and Wigan
Postcode district: WA5

Allan Bird (LD)
Stephanie Davies (Grn)
Phil Hayward (C)
Paul Warburton (Lab)
Ian Wilson (UKIP)

May 2016 result Lab 1489/1161/1011 LD 698/463/397 C 593/364/332 UKIP 332 Grn 204

Stanley and Outwood East

Wakefield council, West Yorkshire; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Clive Hudson who is concentrating on his work commitments as a lecturer in engineering and aviation technology at the University of Leeds. He was first elected in 2000 for the former Stanley and Altofts ward, transferring to this ward in 2004.

We travel along the M62 from junction 8 to junction 30, across to the wrong side of the Pennines. This is a rather diffuse ward running along the A642 from the edge of Wakefield proper to the M62 motorway. Stanley itself, the main population centre, is a rather diffuse settlement itself being essentially a collection of villages which have fused together over the years. As the name suggests, the ward also includes the eastern half of Outwood, a former pit village which merges into Stanley thanks to 1970s development. Settlement names like Bottom Boat and Stanley Ferry betray that much of the ward is low-lying land next to the Yorkshire Calder, and with the exhaustion of coal rhubarb is now the major export: we are in the Rhubarb Triangle, where normal rules do not apply. Just outside the southern boundary of the ward is Pinderfields Hospital, which provides a large amount of employment for the area.

This is one of the wards making up the Morley and Outwood parliamentary constituency, which has seen some strange behaviour recently and not just out of the ballot boxes. The Conservatives gained Morley and Outwood from Labour in 2015, ousting noted ballroom dancer Ed Balls, despite not holding a single council seat within the constituency; and they repeated the trick in June despite still not holding a single council seat within the constituency and some controversy involving their MP Andrea Jenkyns, who had had a child out of wedlock with fellow Tory MP Jack Lopresti. In the days of John Major and “Back to Basics” that would have ended both their political careers, but social mores have moved on over the last twenty years; when the snap election came Lopresti successfully fought off a deselection attempt, while Jenkyns hit the campaign trail despite having had her son less than three weeks before the election was called. Jenkyns and Lopresti are now engaged, and this column wishes them all the best for the future.

Stanley and Outwood East ward was a Labour-Tory marginal until the advent of the Coalition but the Tories only won it once, at the Labour low point of 2008; the most recent result in 2016 suggested that it was trending to Labour, who won with 49% to 25% for the Conservatives and 22% for UKIP. It will be interesting to see whether the Conservatives can make inroads on that big Labour lead given their good parliamentary performance in June. There have been some decent minor-party performances in the past here: the BNP polled 21% in the ward in 2006, and in 2014 the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition finished third here ahead of the Lib Dems.

Defending for Labour is Jack Hemingway, who is hoping to make a comeback to Wakefield council after retiring in 2016 as councillor for Horbury and South Ossett ward. According to his Twitter he is a fan of history, hiking and rugby league. The Conservatives have selected Nathan Garbutt Moore, a learning and employment specialist from the village of Ackworth. The UKIP candidate is James Johnson, who gives an address in Stanley. Completing the ballot paper are Nicola Sinclair for the Liberal Democrats and Lucy Brown of the Yorkshire Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Morley and Outwood
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wakefield and Castleford
Postcode districts: LS26, WF1, WF3

Lucy Brown (Yorkshire Party)
Nathan Garbutt Moore (C)
Jack Hemingway (Lab)
James Johnston (UKIP)
Nicola Sinclair (LD)

May 2016 result Lab 1873 C 950 UKIP 831 LD 151 TUSC 52
May 2015 result Lab 3351 C 2358 UKIP 1651 LD 427 TUSC 129
May 2014 result Lab 2004 C 1208 TUSC 323 LD 297
May 2012 result Lab 2135 C 971 LD 370
May 2011 result Lab 2478 C 1611 LD 360
May 2010 result Lab 2936 C 2578 LD 1539 BNP 761
May 2008 result C 1392 Lab 1112 LD 661 BNP 608
May 2007 result Lab 1338 C 1130 LD 679 BNP 581
May 2006 result Lab 1246 C 986 BNP 777 LD 706
June 2004 result Lab 2156/1686/1645 C 1640/1598/1594


Sheffield council, South Yorkshire; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, who is concentrating on her PhD and her work at the University of Sheffield. She had served since 2004.

For our second Yorkshire by-election of the week we are in an area which has only been part of Yorkshire since 1967. Beighton was incorporated into Sheffield in that year, having previously been part of Derbyshire south-east of the city, and Sheffield council filled the ward with housing in the 1980s and 1990s, turning former villages such as Sothall, Owlthorpe and Hackenthorpe into large estates. The Halfway branch of the Supertram links Owlthorpe and Hackenthorpe to Sheffield city centre – tram stops within the ward include Donetsk Way, Hackenthorpe and Birley Moor Road – while employment is provided by the large Crystal Peaks shopping centre just outside the ward boundary.

Beighton ward was created in 2004 from the northern half of the former Mosborough ward, which had become grossly oversized due to development, and boundary changes last year transferred part of Hackenthorpe into it. Since its creation in 2004 Beighton has been a safe Labour area, and the 2016 result – a Labour win with 43%, to 25% for UKIP and 17% for the Conservatives – doesn’t suggest anything different. However, Labour embarrassingly lost the neighbouring Mosborough ward to the Lib Dems in a shock by-election result last autumn, and do need to be on their guard to prevent a repeat performance.

Defending for Labour is a young candidate, Sophie Wilson who gives an address just to the north in Woodhouse. The UKIP candidate is Shane Harper, who fought Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough in June’s general election. The Conservatives have selected Laurence Smith, a Sheffield University student who chairs the university’s Conservative association. Completing the ballot paper are Bob McCann for the Liberal Democrats and Anthony Naylor for the Green Party. None of the five candidates give addresses in the ward.

Parliamentary constituency: Sheffield South East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Sheffield
Postcode districts: S12, S20

Shane Harper (UKIP)
Bob McCann (LD)
Anthony Naylor (Grn)
Laurence Smith (C)
Sophie Wilson (Lab)

May 2016 result Lab 1962/1947/1704 UKIP 1154 C 777 LD 253/249/209 Grn 239/239/151 TUSC 141

Hucknall North

Ashfield council, Nottinghamshire; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Ben Bradley, who is now MP for Mansfield. He had served since 2015.

We move south from Yorkshire for two Midlands by-elections, and we keep our link with trams. Hucknall is an old mining town a few miles north of Nottingham which makes much of its connection with Lord Byron: he and his estranged daughter Ada Lovelace are buried in Hucknall. Also associated with the town are Ben Caunt, a bare-knuckle fighter who in some stories is claimed as the inspiration behind the name Big Ben for the bell down in London, and the light-music composer Eric Coates who was born here. Although the opening of tram line has led to some growth in the town with commuting to Nottingham, manufacturing remains important to the local economy with Rolls-Royce still having a presence.

Hucknall lies within the Ashfield local government district which has turned in some very weird election results over the last few electoral cycles, although Hucknall North ward has been rather less bizarre than the district as a whole. In 2003 the ward elected an independent and a Labour candidate; the Conservatives gained the independent seat in 2007 and Labour gained the Conservative seat in 2011.

Boundary changes in 2015 added a rapidly-growing commuter area near the station, the Butler’s Hill area and an extra councillor to Hucknall North ward, and that together with a split in the Labour vote – their long-serving councillor John Wilmott sought re-election at the head of a localist slate called Hucknall First Community Forum – allowed the Conservatives to draw level with Labour. The Conservative and Labour slates both polled 31%, but the Tories won two seats to Labour’s one; there was also 18% for UKIP and 13% for the Community Forum. In May’s county elections Tories led easily in the Hucknall North division, which has very similar boundaries to this ward; Ben Bradley was elected as the county councillor. Hucknall is part of the Sherwood parliamentary constituency, which swung slightly to the Conservatives in June.

Bradley remains on Nottinghamshire county council for the time being. The electoral arithmetic in County Hall is rather delicate, with the Conservatives short of a majority and running the county council in coalition with the Mansfield Independent Forum. That coalition controls 35 out of 66 seats, which (as we’ve seen in Lancashire) doesn’t give much margin for error. By comparison, Ashfield district has a secure Labour majority with the Tories holding only four out of 35 seats; Bradley’s resignation is not going to affect control of Ashfield council.

Defending for the Conservatives is Sheila Clarke. Labour have selected Ian Morrison, councillor for this ward from 2011 until losing his seat to the Conservatives in 2015. The UKIP candidate is Stephen Crosby who has had a busy time recently: he fought Nottingham North in June’s general election, Mansfield West in May’s county election and, er, Strangford in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election (to be fair, he is originally from Norn Iron). Former Labour councillor John Wilmott, who stood here in 2015 and in May for the Hucknall First Community Forum, now has the nomination of the Ashfield Independents, a group associated with the former Ashfield council leader Jason Zadrozny. (Zadrozny was originally a Lib Dem figure, but was suspended by the party after being arrested in the run-up to the 2015 general election on suspicion of child sex offences; despite the fact that he is still awaiting trial for those charges, he was re-elected to Nottinghamshire county council in May.) Completing the ballot paper is James Harvey for the Liberal Democrats.

Parliamentary constituency: Sherwood
Nottinghamshire county council division: Hucknall North
ONS Travel to Work Area: Nottingham
Postcode district: NG15

Sheila Clarke (C)
Stephen Crosby (UKIP)
James Harvey (LD)
Ian Morrison (Lab)
John Wilmott (Ashfield Ind)

May 2015 result C 1820/1673/1513 Lab 1797/1517/1509 UKIP 1067 Hucknall First Community Forum 741/506/482 Grn 435


Tamworth council, Staffordshire; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Peter Seekings on health grounds; sadly, he passed away shortly afterwards at the age of 83. Seekings was first elected in 1997 and had twenty years’ continuous service on Tamworth council; he had previously served as leader of the council and the Labour group, and the first Tamworth council meeting after his death unanimously conferred the title of honorary alderman on him. His local government career started as a parish councillor in his native Yorkshire – he was Mayor of Edlington, near Doncaster, in 1978-79 – and he had settled in Tamworth after being posted there by the gentleman’s outfitters Dunn and Company, for whom he had worked since the age of 16.

We continue our progress south with a trip to Tamworth. A large market town, Tamworth has grown strongly in recent years thanks to its good road and rail links to Birmingham; although not a New Town, Tamworth does resemble one in many respects. The town’s population has trebled since 1961 and Tamworth is now the second-largest settlement in Staffordshire after Stoke-on-Trent. Originally the capital of Mercia, Tamworth is now a logistics and engineering centre where the Reliant Robin was manufactured until 2001.

Located to the east of Tamworth town centre along the Amington and Glascote roads, Bolehall is the most working-class of Tamworth’s ten wards and the only one to reliably vote Labour. At the most recent poll in 2016 Labour had 49% to 26% for UKIP and 24% for the Conservatives. The ward is split between two Staffordshire county divisions both of which were narrow Conservative gains from Labour in May: the Tories gained Bolebridge division by 115 votes and Amington division by just 15 votes.

UKIP are not standing in this by-election creating a straight fight. Defending in the red corner is Sheree Peaple, an independent legal education consultant and former solicitor, who was previously head of the law school at De Montfort University and was county councillor for Amington division from 2013 to 2017; she is hoping to join on Tamworth council her husband Simon, who is leader of the Labour group. Challenging in the blue corner is Thomas Jay, a local businessman.

Parliamentary constituency: Tamworth
Staffordshire county council division: Amington (part), Bolebridge (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Birmingham
Postcode districts: B77, B78, B79

Thomas Jay (C)
Sheree Peaple (Lab)

May 2016 result Lab 818 UKIP 431 C 404
May 2015 result Lab 1440 C 1315 UKIP 772 Grn 182
May 2014 result Lab 1162 C 602
May 2012 result Lab 1047 C 435
May 2011 result Lab 1205 C 847
May 2010 result Lab 2023 C 1476
May 2008 result Lab 864 C 710
May 2007 result Lab 990 C 718
May 2006 result Lab 1111 C 701
June 2004 result Lab 925 C 711
May 2003 result Lab 714 C 562
May 2002 result Lab 893/846/822 C 520/508/485

Oxhey Hall and Hayling

Three Rivers council, Hertfordshire; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Ty Harris, who blames the Lib Dem-run council for a reduction in social housing in South Oxhey. He had served since 2014.

After seven by-elections in Scotland, the North and the Midlands, we finish the week south of Watford – immediately south of Watford. Oxhey Hall and Hayling is a rather socially divided ward; Oxhey Hall, just outside the Watford town boundary, consists mostly of 1930s houses with large gardens off Hampermill Lane; while Hayling, a reference to Hayling Road, covers the northern end of the large GLC overspill estate of South Oxhey. At the time of the 2011 census these areas were separate wards before being combined into one electoral area in 2014, and the census stats for the two former wards are as socially divided as you would expect. What a difference a line on a map makes.

Politically Oxhey Hall and Hayling behaved differently as well. Before 2014 Hayling ward was normally safe Labour with low turnout (although the BNP and the Conservatives both came close in 2008) while Oxhey Hall voted Lib Dem at every election from 2004 onwards, the party gaining a seat from long-serving Conservative councillor Roy Clements in 2007. With this mix the 2014 election ended up with a close four-way result: the Lib Dems topped the poll with 28% and won two seats, the Conservatives had 25.5% and won one seat, and Labour and UKIP scored 23% each. The Conservatives held their seat in 2015, but then the Lib Dems had a good hold in 2016 with 48%, to 26% for the Tories and 17% for Labour. The Lib Dems were nowhere in May’s county elections, partly due to boundary effects: their strong area in Oxhey Hall is covered by the safe Conservative county division of Rickmansworth East and Oxhey Park, while Hayling is in the South Oxhey and Eastbury county division which voted Labour with the Conservatives close behind.

Defending for the Conservatives is Roy Clements, former district and county councillor for Oxhey Hall and chairman of the Association of Russian Ballet and Theatre Arts. The Lib Dem candidate is Keith Martin. Labour have selected Brendan O’Brien, a member for South Oxhey ward on the increasingly inaccurately-named Watford Rural parish council. Also standing are Mick Matthewson for UKIP and Matt Jones for the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: South West Hertfordshire (former Hayling ward), Watford (former Oxhey Hall ward)
Hertfordshire county council division: Rickmansworth East and Oxhey Park (approximately former Oxhey Hall ward), South Oxhey and Eastbury (approximately former Hayling ward)
ONS Travel to Work Area: London
Postcode districts: HA6, WD18, WD19

Roy Clements (C)
Matt Jones (Grn)
Keith Martin (LD)
Mick Matthewson (UKIP)
Brendan O’Brien (Lab)

May 2016 result LD 926 C 496 Lab 339 UKIP 178
May 2015 result C 1221 LD 757 Lab 728 UKIP 617
May 2014 result LD 612/561/511 C 550/517/512 Lab 503/477/429 UKIP 490/465

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Andrew Teale

Andrew Teale is the Britain Elects previewer. He edits the Local Elections Archive Project, sometimes tweets at @andrewteale and plays quiz a bit. Read his meticulously-researched previews for the full lowdown on each local by-election, what you need to know and why you might (or might not) want to visit.

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