Preview: 25 Apr 2019

One by-election on 25th April 2019:

Belle Vue

Shropshire council; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Harry Taylor, who had served since 2017.

There is just one week to go now to the May 2019 ordinary elections, in which 248 councils in England and 11 in Northern Ireland will go to the polls to elect some or all of their councillors. That doesn’t cover the whole of England; London and several English councils sit out this round of elections, and of those councils which misses out on the fun this year is Shropshire. Which is why this by-election is being held today.

The Belle Vue division of Shropshire is in the county town of Shrewsbury; this is the south bank of the Severn opposite the town centre, running from the English Bridge along the Belle Vue Road – which was once the main road to Hereford – through the suburb of Coleham. The ward was mostly built up by the early twentieth century, although this can be a bad move when the River Severn is having one of its frequent floods.

At local level this is a long-standing Labour area which had been represented by Labour councillor Mansell Williams before and after the reorganisation of 2009 which created the present Shropshire council. Williams had a large majority over the Conservatives at his final re-election in 2013; he resigned in 2015 and the resuling by-election was held by Labour candidate Amy Liebich very comfortably. Liebich didn’t seek re-election in 2017, and Harry Taylor took over the seat.

Taylor has an interesting biography: he worked in journalism and the car industry before entering politics, and served as Mayor of Coleshill in Warwickshire from 2014 to 2015 before moving to Shrewsbury. At the 2017 local elections he held the Shropshire council seat of Belle Vue with 43% of the vote, to 28% for the Liberal Democrats who moved into second place and 24% for the Conservatives. Taylor subsequently became deputy leader of the praish-level Shrewsbury town council and deputy leader of the Labour group on Shropshire council; he combined this with postgraduate study at Liverpool University and with writing a biography of Victor Grayson, and at the end of last year he was appointed as deputy regional director for the Labour Party in the West Midlands.

Harry Taylor leaves behind a ward which looks safe enough for the third Belle Bue Labour candidate in four years. Defending the seat for Labour this time is Kate Halliday, a social worker campaigning on NHS issues. The Liberal Democrats have selected James McLeod. Ross George is the Conservative candidate. Completing the ballot paper are Dave Latham for the Green Party and Bob Oakley for UKIP.

Parliamentary constituency: Shrewsbury and Atcham
ONS Travel to Work Area: Shrewsbury
Postcode district: SY3

Ross George (C)
Kate Halliday (Lab)
Dave Latham (Grn)
James McLeod (LD)
Bob Oakley (UKIP)

May 2017 result Lab 643 LD 423 C 362 Grn 67
Nov 2015 by-election Lab 546 C 282 LD 240 Grn 75
May 2013 result Lab 939 C 289
June 2009 result Lab 797 C 571 Grn 161 LD 117