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

One by-election on Wednesday 21st December 2016:


Waverley council, Surrey; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Brian Ellis. He had served since 1995 and was the Mayor of Waverley in 2002-03; he was retired after a long career in the IT industry.

What’s Christmas without a brass band?

The Houghton Weavers had the right idea, and the electors of Cranleigh will have the opportunity for a rare music/democracy crossover this Wednesday when the Cranleigh Band Room hosts the polling stations for a council by-election. One of many claimants for the perennially-contested title of England’s largest village (this column has visited a few others over the years), Cranleigh can be found in rural Surrey around ten miles south of Guildford; its famous sons include the great English mathematician G H Hardy, while in the 1920s there was a group of artists living in the village including the landscape painter Joseph Longhurst and the cartoonist Heath Robinson. However, the village’s most famous resident is Ringo Starr, who lived here with his wife Barbara Bach until 2014. Cranleigh is probably best known for its large public school, whose alumni include at least one current MP (Adam Holloway, C, Gravesham); the presence of the boarders rather skews Cranleigh West’s census statistics, putting it in the top 40 wards in England and Wales for 16- and 17-year-olds.

This is a true blue area and its recent election results have been a family affair: Brian Ellis and his wife Patricia had been the ward councillors since Cranleigh West took on its current boundaries in 1999. Last year the Ellises were re-elected with a 56-30 margin over the Lib Dem slate. The Tories also safely hold the local county seat.

Defending for the Conservatives is Liz Townsend, a small businesswoman and Cranleigh parish councillor who also promotes girls’ rugby in Surrey. The Liberal Democrat candidate is former parish councillor Richard Cole, and the ballot paper is completed by UKIP’s Rosaleen Egan.

Parliamentary constituency: Guildford
Surrey county council division: Cranleigh and Ewhurst
ONS Travel to Work Area: Guildford and Aldershot

May 2015 result C 1269/1155 LD 695/515 Lab 321/192
May 2011 result C 975/929 LD 402/338 Ind 317
May 2007 result C 906/879 LD 551/529
May 2003 result C 694/655 LD 571/566 Lab 90
May 1999 result C 723/711 LD 404/397 Lab 217