Previewing the council by-elections of 18 Nov 2021

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

There are nine by-elections on 18th November 2021, and this week is very much a left-wing special with six of today’s polls being Labour defence; the other three seats were previously independent, Liberal Democrat and continuing Liberal. There’s a wide variety of wards up this week and we should have something for everyone. Without further ado, let’s go to our Labour defence in the south of England…


Canterbury council, Kent; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor George Caffery. A former firefighter, Caffery was first elected in 2019.

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’

Oysters anyone? We start last week as we finished the previous week: in north Kent, this time visiting the seaside town of Whitstable. Whitstable has been known for its oysters since Roman times, but the modern town really got going in the mid-eighteenth century when a ferry service to London and a turnpike road to Canterbury were introduced.

From here on the town became a minor port and seaside resort, something which was enhanced in 1830 with the opening of the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway. Known from its initials as the “Crab and Winkle”, the C&WR was one of the UK’s first railways and was the first railway in the world to issue passenger season tickets (in 1834). Its original locomotive, Invicta, is now on display in the town. The railway terminated at Whitstable harbour, providing a port for the city of Canterbury.

Canterbury, Gorrell

The present Gorrell ward, named after a local stream, was created in 2015 as a merger of two previous wards: a smaller Gorrell ward plus the former Harbour ward which covered the town centre. In the period 2003-11 Harbour ward was safely Labour while Gorrell was marginal; the new ward has also proven to be marginal. In 2015 Gorrell split its representation between two Conservatives and one Labour councillor. Labour won all three seats in 2019 as the Conservatives fell to third place, the Green Party surging into a close second: the lead Green candidate finished just nine votes behind the third Labour candidate. Shares of the vote were 37% for Labour, 34% for the Greens and 23% for the Conservatives.

Canterbury, 2019

Gorrell ward also forms part of a marginal division of Kent county council: Whitstable West, which swung strongly to Labour in May. It’s also part of a marginal Parliamentary seat. The Canterbury constituency was possibly the most unexpected of the Labour gains in the 2017 general election, with Rosie Duffield becoming the city’s first-ever Labour MP with a majority of 187 votes; despite some travails with her local party, she was re-elected in 2019 with an increased majority.

But four young Oysters hurried up.
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

The Labour selection produced as their defending candidate Dane Buckman, a self-employed gardener. Standing for the Greens is Clare Turnbull, who works in educational research. The Conservative candidate is Stephen Spencer. Completing the ballot paper is our fourth candidate Colin Gardner, standing for the Workers Party of Britain.

‘O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
‘You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

Parliamentary constituency: Canterbury
Kent county council division: Whitstable West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Canterbury
Postcode district: CT5

Dane Buckman (Lab)
Colin Gardner (Workers Party of Britain)
Stephen Spencer (C)
Clare Turnbull (Grn)

May 2019 result Lab 1418/1416/1307 Grn 1298/894/638 C 889/707/690 LD 262
May 2015 result C 1977/1848/1427 Lab 1844/1658/1638 UKIP 1102 Grn 903/808/801 LD 531/476/451 Ind 412 TUSC 116/110/99
Previous results in detail

Bere Ferrers

West Devon council; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Robin Musgrave.

For our Liberal Democrat defence of the week we have come to the West Country, for a ward on the Devon side of the Tamar Estuary. The Bere peninsula lies at the head of the estuary between the Tamar to the west and the Tavy to the east; its main population centre is the village of Bere Alston.

W Devon, Bere Ferrers

The city of Plymouth is only a few miles away, but the road connections to it are so poor (thanks to the Tavy estuary) that the railway line from Plymouth to Bere Alston managed to survive the Beeching cuts which had recommended it for closure. Bere Alston and Bere Ferrers were once on the second main line from Plymouth to Exeter via Okehampton, and trains now reverse at Bere Alston to take the former branch line to Gunnislake. The section of line between Okehampton and Exeter is due to reopen to passengers this weekend, but reopening of Okehampton to Bere Ferrers is a rather more distant prospect.

Bere Alston was one of most notorious of the rotten boroughs which were swept away by the 1832 Reform Act. Sir George Beaumont, the artist and art patron who was one of the founders of the National Gallery in London, was an MP for Bere Alston from 1790 to 1796. By the 1830s elections here were controlled by the Duke of Northumberland, with the freehold tenants of around 30 houses (out of 112 in the borough) having the right to vote. A vivid account of the 1830 general election here was published in The Times:

“Dr Butler [the Portreeve, who was Returning Officer for the borough] … met the voters under a great tree, the place usually chosen for the purpose of election. During the time the Portreeve was reading the acts of Parliament usually read on such occasions, one of the voters handed in to him a card containing the names of two candidates, proposed by himself and seconded by his friend. He was told … this was too early. Before the reading was completed, the voter on the other side handed in a card corresponding with the former, which he was told was too late. The meeting broke up. The Portreeve and assistants adjourned to a public house in the neighbourhood, and then and there made a return of Lord Lovaine and Mr Blackett, which was not signed by a single person having a vote.”

The “voting tree” still stands in Bere Alston. Mr Christopher Blackett here was a colliery owner from Northumberland, while Lord Lovaine came from a cadet branch of the Percy family who were Dukes of Northumberland. Good local candidates both. Lovaine entered the Lords the following year after succeeding to the title of Earl of Beverley (he ended up as the 5th Duke of Northumberland), and the resulting by-election in January 1831 was contested: the Tory candidate won it by seven votes to nil. In the general election four months later the Conservative slate defeated the Whig slate by nine votes to nil.

Modern-day by-elections in Bere Ferrers are rather more democratic than that, although the returning officer did play a crucial role here again in the 2011 election. The outgoing Lib Dem councillor Robin Musgrave tied for second place with the Conservatives’ Andrew Sadleir on 486 votes each; but only one of them could be elected. Lots were drawn, and the returning officer’s casting vote fell on Musgrave.

The Bere Ferrers ward was expanded in 2015 to take in the parish of Gulworthy to the north. Its two outgoing councillors Robin Musgrave and Mike Benson were re-elected that year, although Musgrave had by then left the Liberal Democrats and gone independent. Benson died in 2017, and the Conservatives held his seat in the resulting by-election (Andrew’s Previews 2017, page 123).

Musgrave, by now back in the Lib Dem fold, topped the poll again here in May 2019, with the Conservatives holding the other seat. Vote shares are a bit difficult to interpret here because of personal votes and partial slates, but for what it’s worth the topline figures were 31% for the Lib Dems, 30% for the Conservatives, 20% for Labour and 18% for UKIP.

The ward is split between two divisions of Devon county council (Yelverton Rural and Tavistock), which were both safely Conservative in May’s county elections. It is part of the Torridge and West Devon constituency represented by the former Conservative cabinet minister Geoffrey Cox, who has been in the news a bit recently.

Robin Musgrave is standing down on health grounds after many years of service as councillor for Bere Ferrers. He was first elected in 1991, and had continuous service from 2007. Musgrave served in 2012-13 as Mayor of West Devon.

Defending for the Liberal Democrats is their losing candidate from 2019 Graham Reed, who works as a craftsman in glass; Reed is a former Plymouth city councillor and has contested Plymouth constituencies in the last three general elections. The Conservatives have selected Angela Blackman, while Labour have changed candidate to Isabel Saxby. UKIP have not returned, so completing the ballot paper is a former European Parliament and London Assembly candidate: that’s local resident Judy Maciejowska of the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Torridge and West Devon
Devon county council division: Yelverton Rural (Bere Ferrers parish), Tavistock (Gulworthy parish)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Plymouth
Postcode districts: PL19, PL20

Angela Blackman (C)
Judy Maciejowska (Grn)
Graham Reed (LD)
Isabel Saxby (Lab)

May 2019 result LD 491/258 C 473 Lab 320/149 UKIP 291
May 2017 by-election C 639 Lab 421 UKIP 164
May 2015 result Ind 738 C 681/630 UKIP 504 Grn 445 Lab 430
Previous results in detail

Brockworth East

Tewkesbury council, Gloucestershire; caused by the resignation of independent councillor Sara Stevens.

For our remaining southern by-election we consider a strong contender for the most dangerous Quaint British Tradition. Every Spring Bank Holiday, a number of people who really should know better race 3 or 4 kilograms of the best Double Gloucester cheese down Cooper’s Hill, above Brockworth in Gloucestershire. With the hillside having a 1-in-3 slope, and with the cheese travelling fast enough to injure anyone who gets in its way, someone always gets hurt at the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling. Councillor Sara Stevens, one of the organisers, was herself hurt by the cheese when the event was last held in 2019; she ended up in A&E with an internal crush injury.

Cheese-rolling here has been going on for centuries by and for the people of Brockworth, a village on the arrow-straight road going east out of Gloucester. This was once the Roman road of Ermine Street running towards Cirencester, and just outside the ward boundary are the remains of a Roman villa at Great Witcombe. In modern times Brockworth was the home of the Gloster aircraft factory, which closed in the 1960s and whose site has now been redeveloped.

Despite being much closer to Gloucester and Cheltenham, the parish of Brockworth is part of the local government district and parliamentary seat of Tewkesbury. Brockworth’s location just outside Gloucester, with good road links, has led to strong population growth in recent years. Tewkesbury council got new ward boundaries in 2019 as a result of which Brockworth parish went up from three councillors to four; the LGBCE don’t like drawing wards with more than three councillors, so this meant that the parish had to be divided into two new wards. Accordingly Brockworth East ward came into being.

Tewkesbury, Brockworth E

The old Brockworth ward had four by-elections in the period 2003-19, with one going to a now-defunct residents’ party, two to the Liberal Democrats and the last one, in May 2014, to the Conservatives. The Conservatives followed up by winning all three seats in Brockworth in 2015. In May 2019 both Brockworth wards returned two independent candidates, with shares of the vote in East ward being 38% for the independents, 24% for the Conservatives, 15% for UKIP and 13% for the Liberal Democrats. However, the Conservatives held the Brockworth county division in May’s Gloucestershire elections with a swing in their favour.

Sara Stevens stood down from Tewkesbury council in June, so there has been plenty of time for prospective candidates in this by-election to get their act together. Despite this, independent candidate Gareth Evans had his nomination papers rejected by the returning officer on the grounds that the two electors who had signed it do not in fact live within the ward. Evans will not be on the ballot. This leaves one defending independent candidate, Brockworth parish councillor Charlotte Mills (who is listed on the parish council website under her previous surname of Parry). The Conservatives have reselected Ronald Furolo who regularly contests local elections here; Furolo was a councillor for the former Brockworth ward from 2015 to 2019. UKIP have not returned. The Lib Dem candidate is Gilbert Yates, who stood in 2019 in the ward of Churchdown Brookfield with Hucclecote, closer to Gloucester. Completing the ballot paper is Joseph Ambrose for Labour.

Parliamentary constituency: Tewkesbury
Gloucestershire county council division: Brockworth
ONS Travel to Work Area: Gloucester
Postcode district: GL3

Joseph Ambrose (Lab)
Ronald Furolo (C)
Charlotte Mills (Ind)
Gilbert Yates (LD)

May 2019 result Ind 352/324 C 227/184 UKIP 140 LD 120/70 Grn 89
Previous results in detail

Clubmoor; and

Liverpool council, Merseyside; caused respectively by the deaths of Ros Groves and Tim Jeeves and the resignation of Malcolm Kennedy, all of whom were Labour councillors.

Liverpool, Clubmoor

We now travel to north-west England for three by-elections in adjoining wards in north Liverpool. Let’s start with Clubmoor ward, which is a residential area of inter-war housing straddling Queens Drive, the inner ring road, about four miles north-east of the city centre. In the 2011 census Clubmoor made the top 100 wards in England and Wales for long-term sickness or disability (11.3%) and the top 80 wards for Christianity (80.4%).

Liverpool, Anfield

To the west of Clubmoor ward lies Anfield ward, which is famous the world over as the home of Liverpool FC. The ward boundaries take in Anfield Stadium as well as the whole of Stanley Park and some very deprived Victorian and Edwardian terraces to the east and south-east of the park. According to the 2019 indices of multiple deprivation, two of the fifteen most-deprived census districts in England are in Anfield ward. Anfield Stadium itself shows up in the 2011 census, with the output area covering the stadium reporting that almost half of the people who work there are in the “arts, entertainment or recreation” sector.

Liverpool, Kirkdale

The western of the three polls today takes place in Kirkdale ward, which covers the Mersey waterfront north of the city centre. All of the waterfront here is dockland, and Liverpool’s docks aren’t nearly as busy as they used to be: a trip along Regent Road, with its buried railway tracks crossing at regular intervals, can give the impression that this is a land which time forgot. It’s a reflection of how many jobs the docks once provided, and the scale of Liverpool’s depopulation. that the boundaries of the modern Kirkdale ward aren’t too dissimilar to those of the old Liverpool Scotland parliamentary seat. That constituency famously returned an Irish Nationalist MP, T P O’Connor, to Parliament from 1885 until his death in 1929. All the main transport links going north from the city centre pass through here – the main roads towards Bootle and Preston, the Northern line of Merseyrail (Bank Hall, Kirkdale and Sandhills stations are within the boundary), and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, while the Wallasey Tunnel also surfaces here. Kirkdale ward is in the top 50 wards in the UK for long-term sickness or disability (12.6%) and has very high levels of social renting. All three wards have very low levels of car use for a location outside London, with corresponding high rates of bus travel and (in Kirkdale, which goes up to the edge of the city centre) walking to work.

One of the docks within Kirkdale ward is Bramley Moore Dock, which Everton FC have their eye on as the site of their new stadium. This hasn’t impressed UNESCO, who earlier this year took the rare step of revoking the status of Liverpool’s waterfront as a World Heritage Site in response to this and other developments.

But that is a long way from being the worst controversy which has attached itself to Liverpool council. For a couple of years now Merseyside Police have been conducting Operation Aloft, an investigation which has resulted in a number of arrests on suspicion of fraud, bribery, corruption and misconduct in public office. In December 2020 Inspector Knacker arrested the then Liverpool mayor, Joe Anderson, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.

Although Operation Aloft is yet to reach its conclusion this arrest was something central government really couldn’t ignore, and they sent in Max Caller to look into Liverpool’s governance and see what was going on. Caller, who had previously done something similar in Northamptonshire, produced a report which detailed a number of failings by the council relating to highways, regeneration, property management, audit and governance arrangements. He recommended that the government send the Commissioners in to run those things and change the electoral cycle for the city to all-out whole council elections. Accordingly, the May 2022 elections to Liverpool city council have been cancelled, with the Mayor’s and councillors’ terms varied to end in May 2023 when a whole council election will be held.

What was the effect of this on the electors of north Liverpool? Well, it certainly cut through. Big Joe was forced to announce his retirement, and Labour selected Joanne Anderson to succeed him in the 2021 mayoral election. This column covered Joanne’s first election to Liverpool city council at a by-election in October 2019 (Andrew’s Previews 2019, page 321); as I made clear at the time, Joanne Anderson is not related to Big Joe Anderson. (Big Joe does have a daughter called Joanne, but she sits on the council under her married name of Joanne Calvert.)

Joanne Anderson did eventually become Mayor of Liverpool, but her performance in May was very poor compared to Big Joe, and indeed compared to the Labour candidates for Mayor of the Liverpool City Region and for Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner, both of whom won in the first round on the same day. By contrast Ms Anderson was taken to transfers after polling just 39% of the first preferences, with independent candidate Stephen Yip on 22%, the Lib Dems on 17% and the Greens on 9%. In the runoff Anderson beat Yip by a 59-41 margin.

This Labour underperformance also fed through to the party’s results in the three wards holding by-elections today. In recent years all of these have been places where the Labour vote is weighed rather than counted, where the party’s dominance has been so great that it’s difficult to find a non-Labour voter. Although Anfield ward voted Lib Dem until 2007, it is now dominated by the red team. The runner-up position there has been filled by six different parties in the seven elections since 2012 (in order, Lib Dem, National Health Action, UKIP, continuing Liberal, Conservative, Green and Liberal again). Kirkdale ward voted 90% Labour in a by-election on general election day in 2017 (Andrew’s Previews 2017, page 151); second place there has been taken on a number of occasions by far-left candidate Roger Bannister, who has also stood in the past to be general secretary of UNISON. (Bannister should not be confused with the legendary athlete of the same name.) Clubmoor ward turned in a Labour vote of 86% at a by-election on general election day in December 2019 (Andrew’s Previews 2019, page 396).

That Clubmoor by-election returned Tim Jeeves, who was re-elected for a full term in May with a 62-19 lead over the continuing Liberals. Sadly, Jeeves passed away in September at the appallingly early age of 42. To quote from his death notice in the Liverpool Echo, he was “taken too soon from his adopted city which he loved so much”.

Jeeves’ passing came a month after the death of Anfield ward councillor Ros Groves, who had served since 2016 and had also just been re-elected in May; her final score was 67%, with second place again going to the continuing Liberals on 11%.

The Kirkdale by-election has been the result of some local controversy. Malcolm Kennedy had represented this ward and the predecessor Vauxhall ward since 1998, and had served as Lord Mayor of Liverpool. He moved to Madrid in March 2020 and has been doing his council work remotely from Spain since then. Once remote council meetings were phased out from May, as the pandemic eases, this became an untenable position for Kennedy. He was due for re-election next year, but the cancellation of next year’s Liverpool elections means that his successor will now serve an extended term until 2023. In May Kirkdale ward had the lowest Labour percentage of the three Liverpool wards up for election today, the party beating the second-placed Greens by 59-12.

Shoutouts are due to some previous unsuccessful candidates here. David Jeffery, a lecturer in British politics at Liverpool University who published the above Important Piece of Research this week, has had the thankless task of being the Conservative candidate in Kirkdale on a few occasions. The Lib Dem candidate for Clubmoor in 2016 was former city councillor Paula Keaveney who, like your columnist, is a former Mastermind semi-finalist. Finally, commiserations are due to George Edwards who was the continuing Liberal candidate for Kirkdale ward in 2006 and was declared as polling zero votes. Legend has it that the Liverpool Liberal leader and talisman Steve Radford demanded a recount after the declaration, by which time it was of course too late to change the result.

In wards like this the Labour selection is often more important than the actual poll. With the Labour party in Liverpool being in special measures following the recent scandals, the NEC has had rather more control of the selection process than some local members might like. The Labour party’s branch for the Liverpool Walton constituency, which covers Anfield and Clubmoor, went so far as to put out a statement saying they weren’t particularly happy. There are certainly some interesting choices there.

Defending Anfield for Labour is Tricia O’Brien, who had been the chair of the council’s planning committee until she lost her seat to the Lib Dems in Cressington ward this May. It may not be unfair to suggest that she has taken the flak for a number of the committee’s more controversial decisions. The Liberal candidate is Jimmy Richardson, who returns after his second-place finish in May. Also standing are Daryl Hodge for the Green Party, Alma McGing for the Conservatives, Wiebke Rueterjans for the Lib Dems and independent candidate Adam Heatherington, who has previously stood for election in Liverpool on the tickets of UKIP (he was the UKIP mayoral candidate in 2012), Five Star Direct Democracy and the Brexit Party.

In Clubmoor the defending Labour candidate is Matthew Smyth, who is in his late twenties and works in a call centre. Smyth has done a lot of campaigning about Universal Credit, having been the victim of an error a few years ago which left him unable to claim a free prescription. The Liberals rather give the game away as to the secret of their success in Liverpool with their ballot paper description “Steve Radford’s Candidate”: Steve Radford’s candidate for Clubmoor ward is again Liam Buckley, who was second here in May and lives and works in the ward. Also standing here are former Green Party European Parliament and leadership candidate Peter Cranie, Steve Fitzsimmons (the last Conservative to sit on Liverpool city council, after holding Woolton ward by seven votes in 1994) for the Lib Dems, Wendy Hine for the Conservatives, Ann Walsh for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, and independent candidate Laura-Jayne Wharton who appears to be standing after being disillusioned by the Labour selection process.

Finally we come to Kirkdale where the Labour selection has produced another ex-councillor. Dave Hanratty represented Fazakerley ward from 1992 to 2018, when he stood down apparently under threat of deselection; for some years he was chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. The Greens ran second here in May, but their candidate from that election Peter Cranie is, as stated, contesting the Clubmoor by-election; for the Kirkdale by-election the Green candidate is instead local resident Maria Coughlan. Also standing are the aforementioned Roger Bannister for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Jenny Turner for the Lib Dems, Kate Burgess for the Conservatives and Peter Furmedge, who is associated with a new party called Beacon Liverpool; the paperwork for the party wasn’t filed with the Electoral Commission in time, so Furmedge is on the ballot paper without a party description. As per the usual practice this column follows for undescribed candidates, Furmedge is listed in the table below as an independent.


Parliamentary constituency: Liverpool Walton
ONS Travel to Work Area: Liverpool
Postcode districts: L4, L6

Adam Heatherington (Ind)
Daryl Hodge (Grn)
Alma McGing (C)
Tricia O’Brien (Lab)
Jimmy Richardson (Lib)
Wiebke Rueterjans (LD)

May 2021 result Lab 1520 Lib 247 Grn 171 C 120 LD 104 Ind 94
May 2019 result Lab 1448 Grn 193 Lib 141 LD 97 C 97
May 2018 result Lab 1777 C 140 LD 134 Grn 114 Lib 56
May 2016 result Lab 1601 Lib 132 Grn 120 LD 120 C 89 TUSC 65
May 2015 result Lab 4276 UKIP 568 Lib 281 Grn 261 C 126 TUSC 68
May 2014 result Lab 1850 National Health Action 245 Lib 146 Grn 145 C 97
May 2012 result Lab 2312 LD 193 Grn 116 Lib 95 C 88
May 2011 result Lab 2223 LD 643 BNP 105 C 94 Lib 83 Grn 50
May 2010 result Lab 2817 LD 1526 BNP 278 Lib 274 C 185 Grn 88
May 2008 result Lab 1521 LD 1077 Lib 133 C 97 Grn 96 Ind 27
May 2007 result LD 1324 Lab 935 Lib 237 Grn 96 C 76
May 2006 result LD 1101 Lab 824 Lib 448 Grn 133 C 95
June 2004 result LD 1586/1500/1328 Lab 836/719/680 Lib 688/519 Ind 335 Socialist Alliance 108/55
Previous results in detail


Parliamentary constituency: Liverpool Walton
ONS Travel to Work Area: Liverpool
Postcode districts: L4, L9, L11, L13

Liam Buckley (Lib)
Peter Cranie (Grn)
Steve Fitzsimmons (LD)
Wendy Hine (C)
Matthew Smyth (Lab)
Ann Walsh (TUSC)
Laura-Jayne Wharton (Ind)

May 2021 result Lab 1647 Lib 510 Grn 207 LD 147 C 139
December 2019 by-election Lab 6276 Lib 420 Grn 328 LD 243
May 2019 result Lab 1770 Lib 203 Grn 195 LD 118 C 98
May 2018 result Lab 2136 Lib 129 C 127 Grn 104 LD 75
May 2016 result Lab 2072 Grn 244 LD 204 Lib 200 C 105
May 2015 result Lab 5493 UKIP 711 Grn 260 Lib 221 C 184 LD 157
May 2014 result Lab 2201 UKIP 686 Lib 130 Grn 117 C 75
May 2012 result Lab 2587 UKIP 215 Lib 124 LD 106 TUSC 97 Grn 85 C 81 British Freedom Party 26
May 2011 result Lab 2904 LD 232 C 184 Lib 166 Grn 125
May 2010 result Lab 4245 Lib 1073 BNP 364 C 281 Grn 148
May 2008 result Lab 1341 Lib 859 BNP 358 C 150 Grn 68 Ind 18
May 2007 result Lab 1366 Lib 999 BNP 210 C 147 Grn 99
May 2006 result Lab 1440 Lib 791 LD 410 C 132 Grn 120 Soc Lab 71
June 2004 result Lab 1844/1626/1624 LD 1542/1445/1230 Lib 466/432/377 Soc Lab 72
Previous results in detail


Parliamentary constituency: Liverpool Riverside
ONS Travel to Work Area: Liverpool
Postcode districts: L3, L4, L5, L20

Roger Bannister (TUSC)
Kate Burgess (C)
Maria Coughlan (Grn)
Peter Furmedge (Ind)
Dave Hanratty (Lab)
Jenny Turner (LD)

May 2021 result Lab 1703 Grn 334 TUSC 324 LD 231 C 168 Lib 107
May 2019 result Lab 1935 UKIP 182 Grn 149 LD 95 Socalist Alternative 69 C 31
May 2018 result Lab 2094 TUSC 149 Grn 104 C 103 LD 76 Lib 23
June 2017 by-election Lab 6416 C 346 Grn 177 LD 154
May 2016 result Lab 2166 TUSC 276 Grn 181 C 105
May 2015 result Lab 5280 UKIP 442 Grn 318 TUSC 236 C 210 Ind 70
May 2014 result Lab 2303 TUSC 206 Grn 177 Lib 140 C 100
May 2012 result Lab 2771 TUSC 143 Grn 89 Ind 76 C 59 LD 38 Lib 13
May 2011 result Lab 3001 TUSC 162 C 128 Grn 106 Lib 78
May 2010 result Lab 4284 BNP 403 Lib 336 C 246 Grn 133 Ind 86
May 2008 double vacancy Lab 1971/1737 BNP 389 Ind 146 LD 144/107 Grn 96/95 C 95/61 Lib 46
May 2007 result Lab 1927 BNP 169 LD 147 UKIP 109 Grn 84 C 66 Ind 47 Lib 37
May 2006 result Lab 1958 LD 232 UKIP 182 C 69 Grn 64 Lib 0
June 2004 result Lab 2378/2315/2145 Liverpool Labour Community Party 365/258/243 LD 274/260/250 Lib 125/125/105 Grn 125/121/115
Previous results in detail


Manchester council; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Matt Strong.

Manchester, Chorlton

We now move east up the Mersey to the major city of north-west England. Chorlton-cum-Hardy was historically a village on the north bank of the Mersey, three miles from the growing industrial town of Manchester. The village grew rapidly in the late Victorian era as a middle-class suburb within easy striking distance of the city, and Chorlton was incorporated into Manchester in 1904. Chorlton tram stop, on the Airport and East Didsbury lines, has linked the ward to the city centre since 2011.

For those of a certain age, it’s impossible to talk about Chorlton without mentioning some of the classic pieces of children’s television. Chorlton was the home of the Cosgrove Hall animation studios, which gave us such great artistic works as Chorlton and the Wheelies, Danger Mouse and Count Duckula, together with feature-length versions of The Wind in the Willows and Roald Dahl’s BFG. Cosgrove Hall’s employees included a very young Bernard Sumner, before he found fame in the bands Joy Division and New Order. The studio ended up as part of ITV, which wound it up in 2009.

Modern-day Chorlton still has that middle-class vibe, with urban professionals dominating its current demographic. In the 2011 census Chorlton (which then had slightly different boundaries) was in the top 50 wards in England and Wales for those educated to degree level (60.6%), and 30.8% of its population was aged between 30 and 44: that was the highest figure for any ward in north-west England and in the top 100 wards in England and Wales. A majority of the workforce are in middle-class occupations and full-time employment is very high. Less salubriously, Chorlton’s M21 postcode was reported in 2014 to be the most burgled postcode district in the UK.

Manchester is a monolithically Labour council these days: the latest composition has 93 Labour councillors plus this vacancy, opposed by one Lib Dem (John Leech, who represented Chorlton from 2005 to 2015 as the MP for Manchester Withington) and one Green (for the unlikely-looking Green ward of Woodhouse Park, in Wythenshawe). Chorlton ward last failed to vote Labour in 2010, when the Liberal Democrats won. In May this year Labour won with a 68-17 lead over the Green Party, and the Lib Dems fell to fourth place. Matt Strong had represented Chorlton since 2011, gaining his seat from the Lib Dems.

Defending this by-election for Labour is Matthew Benham, who describes himself on his Twitter as a “Volunteer, Allotmenteer and Leafleting Specialist”. The Green candidate is Simon Milner-Edwards, who describes himself as a single-issue candidate: the single issue being stopping development on Ryebank Fields, an open space in the ward. Also standing are Kathleen Fitzgibbon for the Conservatives, Rosie Hughes for the Liberal Democrats, regular candidate Jo Heathcote for the Women’s Equality Party, and independent candidate Paul Harnett.

Parliamentary constituency: Manchester Withington (most), Manchester Gorton (small part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Manchester
Postcode districts: M16, M21

Matthew Benham (Lab)
Kathleen Fitzgibbon (C)
Paul Harnett (Ind)
Jo Heathcote (Women’s Equality)
Rosie Hughes (LD)
Simon Milner-Edwards (Grn)

May 2021 result Lab 3656 Grn 917 C 368 LD 291 Women’s Equality 141
May 2019 result Lab 2574 Grn 950 LD 575 C 212 Women’s Equality 146 Ind 59
May 2018 result Lab 3175/3165/2974 Grn 731/728/653 LD 614/507/463 Women’s Equality 465 C 301/242/221 Ind 145
Previous results in detail

Bamber Bridge East

South Ribble council, Lancashire; caused by the death of Labour councillor Christine Melia at the age of 72. She had served as a councillor since 2019.

S Ribble, Bamber Bridge E

For the last of the five Labour defences this week in north-west England we travel north to the edge of Preston. Bamber Bridge lies a few miles to the south-east of Preston, forming another link in the chain of towns which connects Preston to Chorley. This a major location on the motorway network: the ward includes the original southern terminus of the UK’s first motorway, the M6 Preston Bypass, while the later M61 and M65 motorways also pass through the ward. Also here is the unnumbered Walton Summit motorway, a spur road which is one of the few places in the UK where you can legally do 70mph on a single-carriageway road.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about the ethnic profile of this ward, but Bamber Bridge has gone down in history as the unlikely location of an American race riot. The so-called Battle of Bamber Bridge occurred in June 1943, starting at a pub in the modern-day Bamber Bridge East ward called Ye Old Hob Inn. At the time the 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment, a logistics unit of the US Air Force with almost entirely black GIs commanded by almost entirely white officers, was stationed in Bamber Bridge. Its soldiers often socialised in Ye Old Hob with the locals, in a way they couldn’t do back home in segregated America. News had come through of race riots in Detroit earlier in the week, and the author Anthony Burgess – who lived in Bamber Bridge for a time – recounted that the US authorities demanded a colour bar in Bamber Bridge’s pubs in response. The landlords promptly put up signs saying “Black Troops Only”. Then a cack-handed attempt by white US military police to arrest a black soldier in Ye Old Hob, for not wearing the proper uniform, was thwarted by British servicewomen and local civilians; the military police subsequently came back in numbers for another go, and there was a firefight which lasted most of the night. One GI died. All the other soldiers involved were back to normal duties within thirteen months, which was a very light punishment considering that this was a mutiny in wartime; the Eighth Air Force commander preferred to put most of the blame for the incident on the behaviour of the MPs.

These days the East ward of Bamber Bridge has a lot of industry, and it has been Labour-voting throughout this century. In the May 2019 elections to South Ribble council Labour polled 47% here, the Conservatives 30% and UKIP 24%; that election led to the Conservatives losing control of the council, and South Ribble is now run by a minority Labour administration with Lib Dem support. Until the death of ward councillor Christine Melia in September, the Labour and Conservative groups were tied on 22 seats each; accordingly, if the Conservatives gain this by-election they will become the largest party on the council.

The Tories may take heart from the fact that they represent this area at other levels of government. Most of Bamber Bridge East ward is covered by the South Ribble East division of Lancashire county council, which is safe Conservative; however, part of it is in the Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge division which is a Conservative-held marginal. The ward is part of the Ribble Valley parliamentary seat held by Tory MP Nigel Evans, who returned to his former role as a Deputy Speaker after the 2019 general election.

Defending for Labour is local resident Clare Hunter. The Conservative candidate is Matthew Forshaw, a maintenance manager for a hospitality company. UKIP have not returned, but we will still have a three-way contest with the intervention of Rachel Knowles for the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Ribble Valley
Lancashire county council division: South Ribble East (most), Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Preston
Postcode district: PR5

Matthew Forshaw (C)
Clare Hunter (Lab)
Rachel Knowles (Grn)

May 2019 result Lab 474/433 C 303/269 UKIP 241
May 2015 result Lab 1127/1021 C 752/736
Previous results in detail


Ryedale council, North Yorkshire; caused by the death of Liberal Party councillor John Clark.

Ryedale, Cropton

As a warmup for next week’s North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner election, we finish the week by coming to, well, North Yorkshire. Yes, this means that the voters of Cropton are going to have to turn out for by-elections on two successive Thursdays. Blame the PCC by-election rules for that one.

The Cropton ward of Ryedale covers eight tiny parishes wrapping around the western and northern side of Pickering. Much of its acreage is within the North York Moors National Park, and those who have travelled the preserved North Yorkshire Moors railway – which runs along the valley of Pickering Beck which forms the ward’s eastern boundary – will attest that this is beautiful countryside. It’s not highly populated countryside even in the more lowland parishes, in the fertile Vale of Pickering: Middleton, located on the main road running west from Pickering, is the largest parish in the ward but has just 343 electors on the roll. There may well have been a larger population at the end of the 1st century, when the Romans had a camp at Cawthorne, just outside Cropton, which is thought to have been used by them as a training camp.

A look at the election results for Cropton ward reinforces the sense of historical throwback. Since the ward was created in 2003 it has had only one councillor: John Clark, one of the few remaining councillors for the continuing Liberal Party. Clark went through a number of very close elections – in 2011 he was re-elected with a majority of just six votes over the Conservatives – and it wasn’t until his final re-election in 2019 that he achieved safety in Cropton ward. On that occasion he won with a 55-25 lead over an independent candidate.

Ryedale, 2019

Clark had also served on North Yorkshire county council, representing the local Pickering division from 2009 to 2017. Again, all those elections were photofinishes: Clark won by 58 votes in 2009, was re-elected by 50 votes in 2013, and lost his seat to the Conservatives by eight votes in 2017.

The May 2021 North Yorkshire county elections were cancelled due to possible local government reorganisation in the county. Ryedale council, which is based on the Vale of Pickering and whose largest towns are Pickering, Malton and Norton, may well be one of the main reasons for this reorganisation. Although it is a coherent economic unit – the ONS recognises a Malton Travel to Work Area with very similar boundaries – the district has a very low headcount and is one of the smallest remaining shire districts in England by population. Part of the reason for that is that Ryedale came off badly from the creation of a unitary York council in the 1990s: the new York city council expanded to cover the whole of the city’s urban area and a rural hinterland, and that boundary change robbed Ryedale of a large chunk of its population and council tax base.

Ryedale council is too small to sustain a leader and cabinet system of governance, and John Clark’s position as chairman of the council’s policy and resources committee meant that he was in effect the council leader. The council chamber is hung, with currently 12 independent councillors (in at least three different groups), 11 Conservatives, 4 continuing Liberals plus this vacancy, and two new-style Liberal Democrats.

Defending this by-election for the Liberal Party is Alasdair Clark, John Clark’s son. The independent from last time has not returned, so opposing Clark junior are Greg White for the Conservatives (who is the local county councillor), Richard McLane for the Green Party and Jill Wells for Labour.

Parliamentary constituency: Thirsk and Malton
North Yorkshire county council division: Pickering
ONS Travel to Work Area: Malton
Postcode districts: YO17, YO18, YO62

Alasdair Clark (Lib)
Richard McLane (Grn)
Jill Wells (Lab)
Greg White (C)

May 2019 result Lib 362 Ind 167 C 128
May 2015 result Lib 526 C 471
May 2011 result Lib 359 C 353 LD 57
May 2007 result Lib 342 C 301 LD 86
May 2003 result Lib 368 C 306
Previous results in detail

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Andrew Teale