Wednesday, 15 September 2010

By-Election Preview (16th September)

Following the deferred elections in Norwich and Exeter last Thursday, this week is not quite as busy. But there are still plenty of Council by-elections to keep us entertained with six top-tier vacancies along with three District Council seats and one Town. It's quite London centric with three by-elections taking place in the capital on Thursday. Elsewhere there are polls in Knowsley (Merseyside), Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire.

I'll start in London where by far the most competitive top-tier election is taking place. The New River ward in Hackney is up for election following the death of Conservative Cllr. Maureen Middleton. She was one of only four Conservative Councillors in this Labour dominated Borough and her party will struggle to defend her seat. Middleton pipped the third Labour candidate in New River to third place with a margin of just 39 votes. The other two seats in this multi-member ward are held by Labour. The Conservative candidate defending this seat for his party was 136 votes behind Middleton early this year. Labour currently hold 50 of the 57 seats in Hackney so it's not as if they need another. But given the fact Middleton's personal vote seemed to be the only reason they didn't pick up all three seats here in May a gain looks on the cards.

The two other by-elections in London are taking place in Kensington and Chelsea. Although both are in safe Conservative wards the reason for the two vacancies are noteworthy. They have arisen after an e-mail scandal engulfed the London Borough leading to the resignation of two Conservative Councillors; Barry Phelps and Mark Daley. They represented the Earls Court and Cremone wards respectively. Given the reason for these by-elections there is potential here for an upset, but there has already been a by-election in this Borough since the scandal broke. Two months ago the Tories easily held the Holland ward and so the local electorate didn't punish the party for Phelps and Daley's behaviour on that occasion. We'll soon find out if the voters who backed the pair in May take a different route. As the Tories currently hold 43 of the 54 seats in Kensington and Chelsea this result will not affect the balance of power on the Council.

In Knowsley there is a vacancy for the Park ward. This is due to the resignation of Labour Cllr. Margaret Dobbie for Personal Reasons. The ward is such a safe one for Labour no-one opposed Dobbie in 2007. This year the Liberal Democrats put up a candidate who was soundly beaten. Labour enjoy a huge majority on the Council and so even if they suffered an unlikely loss they would still control Knowsley.

In Cambridgeshire the East Chesterton ward has been vacated by the Liberal Democrat Councillor Siep Wijsenbeek, who has apparently moved to France! The Lib Dems are only defending a 10% majority in this by-election and so it's unlikely the local party are too chuffed with having to defend this seat. The Conservatives hold 42 of the 69 seats so this is yet another Council which will be unaffected by a gain.

In Nottinghamshire, there is a by-election for the Worksop West ward following the death of Conservative Cllr. Michael Bennett. Bennett easily won this seat in 2009 and so the Tories should be able to hold this on Thursday. If they fail though then their slender majority will be even smaller. The Tories currently hold 35 of the 66 seats so they'd be left with a majority of just 2 if they lost this seat.

The following by-elections will also take place on Thursday: Worksop South, Bassetlaw District Council (Nottinghamshire); Cadley, Preston City Council (Lancashire); Stanwix Urban, Carlisle City Council (Cumbria); Northcourt, Abingdon Town Council (Oxfordshire).

New River (Hackney)


Cremone (Ken. & Chel.)





Vote %

Jonathan Burke (LAB)



Gerard Hargreaves (CON)


Benzion Papier (CON)



Mabel McKeown (LAB)


Benjamin Mathis (LD)



Peter Kosta (LD)


Stuart Coggins (GRN)



David Coburn (UKIP)


Darren Fraser (IND)



Julia Stephenson (GRN)





Park (Knowsley)


Earls Court (Ken. & Chel.)





Vote %

Tony Brennan (LAB)



Malcolm Spalding (CON)


John White (LD)



Joel Bishop (LAB)


Gary Robertson (CON)



Linda Wade (LD)



Michael Enright (GRN)


E Chesterton (Camb.)


Elizabeth Arbuthnot (IND)





Jack Bovill (IND)


Ian Manning (LD)



Antony Little (UKIP)


Matthew Bradney (CON)



Gerri Bird (LAB)



Worksop West (Notting.)

Peter Pope (GRN)





Peter Burkinshaw (UKIP)



Alec Thorpe (CON)


Anna Gordon (SOC)



Kevin Greaves (LAB)



Leon Duveen (LD)



Terry Coleman (IND)



Ron Dawes (IND)



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