Preview: 30 Jul 2019

One by-election on Tuesday 30th July 2019:

Coleman Street

City of London Corporation; caused by the resignation of Common Councilman Stuart Fraser.

We’ve had a series of non-Thursday by-elections in the last few weeks and this is the last of them. Andrew’s Previews returns to that Quaint British Tradition which is the City of London Corporation, which was established in the Middle Ages and whose structure is little changed since.

Coleman Street ward can be found in the north of the City. The name goes back to those mediaeval times, when charcoal burning was the main local occupation. Charcoal burning has, however, been replaced by all the usual City business – Legal and General have a large office here, and I have to be nice to them because they have my pension fund – and it’s voters nominated by the ward’s businesses and sole traders who will decide the result of this election. The main thoroughfare is no longer Coleman Street but Moorgate, and the ward includes the largest public park in the City: the elliptical roundabout of Finsbury Circus, occupied by gardens, a bowling green and a large construction shaft for Crossrail, whose Liverpool Street station platforms will lie beneath. Until the Elizabeth Line opens, Moorgate underground station is the main transport hub for the ward, with its four Underground lines and rail connection to North London and Hertfordshire providing excellent transport links to all corners of the conurbation.

Coleman Street ward’s elections don’t normally see much excitement. The ward was uncontested in the 2013 City elections, and in 2017 its four independent councilmen (Michael Cassidy, Sophie Fernandes, Fraser and Andrew McMurtrie) were all re-elected easily against opposition from Labour’s Paul O’Brien (whom we saw in the Farringdon Within by-election last week).

So this by-election is unusually interesting by Coleman Street standards. There are three independent candidates whose names will all be familiar to longtime readers of Andrew’s Previews. Timothy Becker is a solicitor from Wimbledon who regularly struggles to break the 10-vote barrier at City by-elections. Alpa Raja is an insolvency practitioner from Pinner, Middlesex. Dawn Wright has retired from frontline business and is campaigning on the issue of improving science education, something which her role at the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists might help with. Completing the ballot paper is Labour’s Bren Albiston; he is the vice-chair of Junior Labour Lawyers and, according to his Twitter, an “occasional author of boring articles”. Bless.

Parliamentary constituency: Cities of London and Westminster
ONS Travel to Work Area: London
Postcode districts: EC1Y, EC2M, EC2R, EC2V, EC2Y

Bren Albiston (Lab)
Timothy Becker (Ind)
Alpa Raja (Ind)
Dawn Wright (Ind)