There are two local Council by-elections taking place today and they are both in what on paper are safe wards. We are back in Gwynedd (Wales) for the fifth time since the 2010 General Election, with Plaid Cymru the defending party on this occasion. Elsewhere, the Conservatives are looking to hold a seat on the Wokingham Unitary Authority (Berkshire).
I'll start in Gwynedd, who have kept us rather busy over the last 14 months and the Welsh County Council is showing no signs of abating! This latest by-election is taking place following the death of Plaid Cymru Councillor Dai Rees Jones. Jones easily won his seat three years ago with almost two thirds of the vote in a straight fight with the Liberal Democrats. For this contest both Labour and the Conservatives are fielding candidates but given Plaid's by-election record in Gwynedd over the last year this is unlikely to affect the outcome all that much. The Welsh nationalists have managed to gain two seats in by-elections a narrowly missed out on a third by four votes so it's hard to see past a Plaid Cymru win in today in what is one of their strongest areas.
Following the 2008 elections Plaid Cymru controlled Gwynedd as a minority administration but their recent by-election victories have given them a slim majority on the Council. They will have a chance to extend that in the near future as the Diffwys & Maenofferen is again vacant following the resignation of Llais Gwynedd (Voice of Gwynedd) Councillor Richard Lloyd Jones, who won his seat in a by-election barely a year ago. The next full Council elections are due to take place next May.
Gwynedd County Council
Elin Walker Jones (PC)
Doug Madge (LD)
Jennie Lewis (Con)
Martyn Singleton (Lab)
The other by-election taking place today is for the Wokingham Unitary Authority and this is also likely to result in a hold. The vacancy in the Remenham, Wargrave & Ruscombe ward has arisen following the resignation of Conservative Councillor Claire Stretton, who has moved from the area and managed to win a seat on the neighbouring Windsor & Maidenhead Council two months ago. She won her Wokingham ward in emphatic style three years ago with almost three quarters of the vote and although the Tories majority dropped slightly in 2010 they are unlikely to lose this seat, despite the circumstances surrounding the vacancy. The Conservatives currently control the Council with a large majority with partial Council elections due to take place next May.
Remenham, Wargrave & Ruscombe (Wokingham)
John Halsall (Con)
Martin Alder (LD)
Matthew Dent (Lab)
Martyn Foss (Grn)
Andy Heape (UKIP)