Thursday, 8 July 2010

By-Election Preview (8th July)

There are six by-elections taking place today, and one or two could produce some interesting results. We have two in London, two in Wales and one each in the Unitary Authorities of Brighton and Darlington.

The one I expect to be the most interesting is the Chadwell Ward on the London Borough Council of Redbridge. It's being held because the recently elected Councillor, Mark Gittens, was disqualified as he was employed as a teacher in the Borough. The local Labour party claim it was an 'innocent error', but as this mistake has cost the Council thousands of pounds to hold a by-election the electorate may not be too lenient. Two months ago Labour gained 14 seats on the Council forcing, the Conservatives into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. This coalition has a slim majority so an extra seat would be very welcome. In May Labour gained all three seats in Chadwell off the Lib Dems so they're best placed to take the seat. John Tyne will be their candidate tonight and he'll be hoping to regain the seat he lost in May.

The other by-election in London has also been trigged by a disqualification. This will take place in the Goresbrook Ward for the Barking & Dagenham Borough Council. Louise Couling was one of Labour's 19 newly elected Councillors in Barking & Dagenham after they took all 51 seats in May. In 2006 Goresbrook had elected 2 BNP Councillors and so the result was a ringing endorsement of a great campaign in the area. However, Couling was employed by the Council as a Lollipop Lady and so therefore illegible to stand. She has decided to resign her Council job to contest the re-run but it will be interesting to see how the voters react to cost of the new election. The BNP were the only serious contenders in May, and they have selected their former Councillor Richard Barnbrook to try and regain his seat. Obviously, Labour's majority on the Council won't be affected if they lose, but it will be a moral blow in their ongoing battle with the BNP.

In Brighton there will be a by-election held in the St. Peter's and North Laine Ward. As the Green Party's leader Caroline Lucas has become the MP for Brighton Pavilion she had to resign her seat as an MEP for the South East. Her seat in the European Parliament then shifts to the Green's next candidate on their list, which is Keith Taylor. He happened to be the Councillor for this ward in Brighton and hence the by-election. Follow all that?! St. Peter's and North Laine is where the Green Party's first Brighton Councillor was elected and they'll be hoping to hold onto this symbolic seat. The Council is currently run by a minority Conservative administration and as the nearest challenger here is Labour this election shouldn't affect the balance of power too much. The Greens have a big majority to defend so they should hold on anyway.

There's a similar, but simpler, situation in Darlington where the Council seat vacated by the new Labour MP for Darlington, Jenny Chapman, needs to be filled. Labour should hold her Cockerton West Ward with ease and shore up their smallish majority on the Council.

In Wales there is an interesting contest for the Blackwood Ward on the Caerphilly County Council as popular Councillor Keith Etheridge has stood down for 'personal reasons'. He was popular in the sense that he received almost twice as many votes in 2008 than any other candidate in this multi member ward. But Nigel Dix was less than 150 votes away for gaining a seat for Labour two years ago and so he'll fancy his chances of picking up this seat. The Plaid Cymru/Independent coalition in Caerphilly do not command a majority so if Labour do manage a gain tonight it will be fairly significant to the Council's balance.

Finally, the death of Labour Councillor Derek Morris has triggered a by-election in the Tredegar Central and West Ward on the Blaenau Gwent County Council. The main parties are not contesting this seat, nor are Plaid Cymru or The Peoples Voice. This leaves just one Independent to try and prevent a Labour hold so it's likely their candidate, Tony Gregory, will prevail.

Chadwell (Redbridge)

Goresbrook (Bark. & Dag)





Wes Streeting (LAB)


Louise Couling (LAB)


John Tyne (LD)


Richard Barnbrook (BNP)


Gary Monro (CON)


Paul Ayer (CON)


Wilson Chowdhry (GRN)


Felicia Taiwo (LD)


Paul Wiffen (UKIP)


Warren Northover (IND)


Julian Leppert (BNP)


Nobby Manning (UKIP)




Faruk Choudhrury (IND)


St. Peter's & N Laine (Brighton)

Cockerton West (Darlington)





Lizzie Deane (GRN)


Jan Cossins (LAB)


Tom French (LAB)


David Davies (CON)


Rob Buckwell (CON)


Brian Jefferson (LD)


Trefor Hunter (LD)


Paul Thompson (BNP)


Gerald O'Brien (IND)




Blackwood (Caerphilly)

Tredegar C & W (B Gwent)





Claire Louise (IND)


Tony Gregory (LAB)


Nigel Dix (LAB)


N/C (PC)


Andrew Farina-Childs (PC)


N/C (Peoples Voice)


Ian Chivers (CON)


N/C (LD)




Bernard Willis (IND)



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