By-elections on 1 December 2016:
House of Commons; caused by the resignation of Conservative PM Zac Goldsmith in order to seek re-election. He had served since 2010.
We are cleared for takeoff in this by-election which Zac would dearly love you to think is all about Heathrow Airport. Perhaps it’s worth starting by discussing the airport, for which it is proposed to build a third runway after decades of dithering over whether Heathrow, or Gatwick, or somewhere else in the generalised London area, should get a new runway. This, it is argued, will better connect London with the rest of the UK and world and generate a net positive for the economy.
It’s unarguable that Heathrow has no spare capacity. The financial crash of 2008, despite depressing demand for airline travel around the world, made not a jot of difference to its arrival and departure list. The major problems with expanding Heathrow are that its constrained site makes a third runway ruinously expensive without government help, and the position of its runways mean that takeoffs and landings have to occur with noisy planes at low levels over west and central London. There’s also the fact that public transport options for the airport are either ripoffs even by London standards (Heathrow Express, I’m looking at you) or timesinks. Unfortunately the alternative options for expanding Heathrow tend to have poor connections by road or public transport, be in the wrong place for the rest of the country necessitating a time-consuming journey around London (Gatwick, I’m looking at you), involve newbuild options which are prohibitively expensive (see the Maplin Sands proposal from the 1970s and the more recent kite of Boris Island) or all three. Another obvious problem with closing Heathrow is that it would take the floor out of the economic base for much of west London; the ONS recognised the airport’s importance in 2011 by making it the hub for a statistical Travel to Work Area.
For someone looking at this from 200 miles away, the main questions which come to mind are, firstly, if you’re going to plan ahead for the future, why build only one new runway in the London area when surely building more than one would futureproof London even more against future demand? Secondly, what sort of demand is it going to be? There’s a lot of talk about the third Heathrow runway attracting new transfer passengers from Scotland and the North of England, people like your columnist. Your columnist, however, is used to the idea of flying from Manchester (which, incidentally, opened its second runway in 2001 and has plenty of spare capacity) to a transfer airport at Helsinki, Dusseldorf, Zurich, wherever on the continent is appropriate for an onward connection. The problem with Heathrow trying to attract transfer passengers is, first, that Heathrow’s landing charges price that option out of the market (a problem which the cost of building the third runway is going to exacerbate); second, that BA are not interested in UK regional destinations (possibly for that reason); and, finally, that decades of horror travel stories make some people want to avoid transferring in London at all costs.
Anyway, that’s my view on the Heathrow question and presumably the electors of Richmond Park have theirs. Richmond upon Thames, as a town, was founded by King Henry VII who built the long-gone Richmond Palace at a location which had previously been called Sheen; the name came from Henry’s title as Earl of Richmond, itself derived from Richmond Castle in Yorkshire. The area is still in favour with royalty – one of the electors in this by-election is Princess Alexandra – but its development is the usual London story of suburban development and eventual incorporation into Greater London. At the eastern end of the seat is Barnes, which is surprisingly close to central London, and the constituency includes the National Archives and Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew before running down the east bank of the Thames to take in northern Kingston-upon-Thames and the Coombe area. In the centre of the ward is the open space of Richmond Park, still home to a large number of deer. Er…
Jesus Christ, that dog gets everywhere.
The census statistics show that this – particularly the Richmond end – is a constituency where the elite live. The standout figure comes from Mortlake and Barnes Common ward, which has the third-highest figure in the whole of England and Wales for the ONS’ “lower management” category at 36.9% of the workforce; six of the seven Richmond wards make the top 100 in England and Wales for that category. All of those six wards are also in the top 100 in England and Wales for degree-level qualifications, South Richmond having the highest figure with 63.6% of the workforce. South Richmond also has the seventh-highest figure in England and Wales for the ONS “higher management” employment category at 30% of the workforce, and three other Richmond wards make the top 100 for that statistic. Other top-100 performances include three wards for population born in the EU-14 countries; and Mortlake and Barnes Common for people in the 30-44 age bracket.
There has been a constituency based on Richmond, Surrey since 1918; its first MP was the couponned Conservative Clifford Edgar, who in that election soundly defeated the militant suffragette and independent candidate Norah Dacre Fox. Edgar lost his seat in 1922 to Harry Becker, who had stood as an independent Conservative endorsed by Lord Rothermere’s Anti-Waste League. Becker was re-elected in 1923, this time as the official Conservative candidate, but stood down in 1924.
Becker’s replacement was the Australian Sir Newton Moore, who had been Premier of Western Australia from 1906 to 1910 before moving to London, and during the Great War had been GOC Australian Imperial Forces in the UK with the rank of major-general. Moore had served in the Commons before – winning the St George’s Hanover Square by-election in October 1918 before transferring to Islington North in the general election two months later, serving there until 1923.
Sir Newton Moore resigned from the Commons in 1932 shortly after being re-elected by the score of 85-15 in a straight fight with Labour. His replacement was another knight of the realm, Sir William Ray who won the by-election unopposed. Ray resigned in his turn in 1937 and the by-election was won by George Harvie-Watt, a barrister and TA figure who had previously been MP for Keighley from 1931 to 1935; Harvie-Watt easily defeated the Labour candidate George Rogers, a Wembley councillor and railway clerk who would go on to serve for 25 years as MP for Kensington North.
Harvie-Watt had a long career at the lowest rungs of government, immediately becoming PPS to the Board of Trade and serving as PPS to Winston Churchill during Churchill’s wartime premiership; after the war he was appointed Baronet, became ADC to George VI and was kept on by Elizabeth II. He eventually stood down from the Commons in 1959.
The 1959 election saw Harvie-Watt succeeded by another Tory figure, Anthony Royle, who had had the dubious distinction of losing the Torrington by-election to the Liberals the previous year. A former army figure who had served in the Life Guards and the SAS before polio put paid to his military career, Royle was working as an insurance broker before entering politics. Like Harvie-Watt, he had a long parliamentary career, peaking during the Heath administration in which was a junior Foreign Office minister.
In the 1970s Richmond suddenly became a marginal seat, falling to the Liberals in the 1973 Greater London Council election. The GLC councillor, Stanley Rundle, was the Liberal candidate here in February 1974 and cut Royle’s majority below nine points. Rundle was replaced as Liberal candidate in the October election by Alan Watson, against whom Royle – who had been knighted between the two elections – increased his majority to just over ten points. Another notable figure on the Richmond ballot that October was the barrister Bob Marshall-Andrews, who would later serve as Labour MP for Medway during the Blair and Brown years. The 1979 election was a rematch between Sir Anthony Royle and Alan Watson, with Royle’s majority down to its lowest level of six points; further down the ballot paper was a vestige of the short-lived political career of then pop mogul Jonathan King, who stood under his real name (Kenneth George King) and failed to break 1%.
The Richmond constituency was renamed Richmond and Barnes for the 1983 election, and got a new Tory candidate to match as Sir Anthony Royle retired. Jeremy Hanley, a chartered accountant from an entertainment family – his parents were the actor Jimmy Hanley and the actress Dinah Sheridan, his sister was the former actress and Magpie presenter Jenny Hanley – who had contested Lambeth Central in the 1978 by-election and the following year’s general election, faced off against Alan Watson, fighting the seat for the third time but now under the Liberal/SDP Alliance label; the Labour candidate, some way behind, was Keith Vaz, who got into Parliament four years later for Leicester East and still represents that seat today. In one of the closest results of the 1983 election, Hanley prevailed by 20,695 votes to 20,621, a majority of 74. A rematch between Hanley and Watson in 1987 led to Hanley increasing his majority to 1,766 or four percentage points, and Hanley’s lead went up again in the 1992 election in Richmond and Barnes, an election where all three major party candidates ended up in the Commons at some point; the Labour candidate was Don Touhig, who won the Islwyn by-election after Neil Kinnock’s translation to Europe, and the Lib Dem candidate was Jenny Tonge.
By 1992 Hanley had joined the lower ranks of government as a junior Northern Ireland minister, and served in Major’s cabinet as Conservative Party chairman for a year which was accident-prone even by the low standards of the Major administration. As well as the collapse of Tory support, boundary changes – which had cut the number of seats in Richmond and Kingston boroughs from four to three – had merged his seat with part of Norman Lamont’s Kingston constituency, leading to a new name for the constituency: Richmond Park. In a repeat of 1992, Hanley faced off against Jenny Tonge, and this time lost by five points as the Conservatives lost the Richmond seat for the first time since its creation.
Tonge was born in Walsall and had trained as a doctor at UCL, and combined her medical career with being a Richmond upon Thames councillor from 1981 to 1990, chairing the social services committee. She became the Lib Dems’ international development spokeswoman, and was re-elected in 2001. Her time on the party’s front bench was cut short in 2004 when Charles Kennedy effectively sacked her as children’s spokeswoman for making positive comments about Palestinian suicide bombers; she refused to apologise and, even since her translation to the Lords in 2005, Tonge’s loose tongue has continued to cause embarrassment for the Liberal Democrats.
Upon Tonge’s retirement from the Commons in 2005 the Liberal Democrats managed the rare feat of passing a seat on from one MP to another. The new Lib Dem MP was Susan Kramer, who had stood for the party in the inaugural London Mayor election in 2000, polling 12%, and also fought Dulwich and West Norwood in the 1997 general election. In office as a member of the largest Lib Dem parliamentary caucus, Kramer held a number of frontbench roles and campaigned against the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
The Tories had never given up in Richmond and for the 2010 election they selected through a newfangled “open primary” Zac Goldsmith as their candidate. A former editor of The Ecologist magazine and a committed environmentalist, Goldsmith was from a long-standing political family: both his grandfathers had been Tory MPs (Frank Goldsmith representing Stowmarket from January 1910 to 1918 and Robin Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 8th Marquess of Londonderry, representing County Down from 1931 to 1945) while his father, the billionaire businessman Sir James Goldsmith, had been elected an MEP in France in 1994, served as leader of the European Parliament’s eurosceptic group, and founded the short-lived Referendum Party to contest the 1997 election. Goldsmith went on to defeat Kramer by seven points in the 2010 election, and in 2015 massively increased his majority to 58-19 over the new Lib Dem candidate, Robin Meltzer, who polled fewer than half the number of votes that Kramer had done.
As can be seen from the map above, the Lib Dem collapse in 2015 was presaged by the 2014 local elections. In the eleven wards of Richmond and Kingston making up this seat the Conservatives polled 44% to just 23% for Lib Dems and 13% for the Greens, who contested every ward, and the Tories won 32 of the 33 council seats within the constituency to one for the Lib Dems. The Tories held Tudor ward in a by-election in October 2014.
The London Assembly elections in 2016 aren’t easy to compare, partly because postal votes are not broken down to ward level and partly because the Tory candidate for London mayor this year was none other than Zac Goldsmith, who ran a surprisingly right-wing campaign; for what it’s worth, in on-the-day votes Goldsmith beat Sadiq Khan here 57-25 and the Tories carried Richmond Park on the list vote with 46%, to 19% for Labour and 12% for the Lib Dems.
These recent reverses haven’t stopped the Lib Dems from attempting to crank their by-election machine to full throttle. Their campaign is focusing on the most recent poll in the borough: the EU referendum in June, in which Richmond Park was a strongly pro-Remain area. Richmond borough as a whole was 69% Remain and Kingston borough 62% remain, and demographic-based estimates by Chris Hanretty have put the Remain vote across the constituency at 72%. Goldsmith, on the other hand, was a Leave campaigner just like his dad.
As stated, Zac Goldsmith is standing for re-election; he does not have the Tory nomination, but is standing as an independent without Conservative opposition and is also endorsed by UKIP.
The Lib Dem candidate is Sarah Olney, an accountant working at the National Physical Laboratory. An opponent of Heathrow expansion, she is endorsed by the Green Party and the Women’s Equality Party.
Of the other parties who stood in 2015 only Labour are left standing: their candidate is Christian Wolmar, a journalist focusing on transport and railway issues who had also sought the Labour nomination for the London Mayor election.
Five candidates complete the ballot paper. Regular by-election candidate and Monster Raving Loony Party leader Howling Laud Hope is back for his umpteenth attempt to get into Parliament. The One Love party leader Ankit Love, standing under the pseudonym “Maharaja Jammu and Kashmir” is hoping to improve on the twenty on-the-day votes he polled here in May’s London Mayor election. Turning to the more serious wing, management consultant David Powell is standing as an independent candidate; the evangelical Chistian Peoples Alliance have nominated Dominic Stockford; and independent candidate Fiona Syms, estranged wife of Tory MP Robert Syms, is standing as an anti-Goldsmith spoiler candidate with a pledge to take the Conservative whip if she is elected.
Constituency polling in the UK has a poor track record, but one poll taken at the start of the campaign conducted by BMG Research for the London Evening Standard (which, for what it’s worth, was strongly in favour of Goldsmith in the mayoral election) had Goldsmith on 56% to 29% for Olney and 11% for Labour. It remains to be seen whether a month of campaigning has had any effect on these figures. Whatever happens, remember that we are in the crazy year of 2016 and the only thing that can be confidently predicted is that all bets are off.
May 2015 result C 34404 LD 11389 Lab 7296 Grn 3548 UKIP 2464
May 2010 result C 29461 LD 25370 Lab 2979 UKIP 669 Grn 572 Christian Peoples Alliance 133 Ind 84
May 2016 GLA elections (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: C 20391 Lab 9123 LD 2334 Grn 2042 Women’s Equality 728 UKIP 467 Respect 225 Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol 193 Britain First 136 Ind 82 BNP 49 One Love 20
List: C 16465 Lab 6711 LD 4442 Grn 3773 Women’s Equality 1661 UKIP 1446 Animal Welfare 388 Respect 277 Britain First 243 CPA 220 House Party 140 BNP 95
City of London corporation; caused by the resignation of Independent councilman Lucy Frew.
Richmond Park isn’t the only poll in London this week as there are also two local by-elections in the capital. One of them is to the Walbrook ward of the City of London Corporation, the financial centre of the UK. Well, it has to be; this ward is centred on the Bank underground station and includes the Mansion House, residence of the Lord Mayor of London, and the Bank of England.
The City Corporation is a hangover from local government in olden time, with one of the hangovers being plural voting: the 343 electors in this by-election are almost all sole traders or nominated by businesses within the ward rather than being local residents, because there are very few local residents here. The council has the non-partisan politics of a parish council and this by-election fits the mould with three independent candidates. Peter Bennett, a chartered surveyor and Bridge Master of the City, would appear to be the City establishment candidate; he is opposed by Xuelin Bates, the wife of the former MP for Langbaurgh and Paymaster General in the Major government Lord Bates, and independent media consultant Sophia Morrell. Whoever wins will be straight back onto the campaign trail to seek re-election at the next City elections in March.
Tower Hamlets council, North London; caused by the disqualification of Shahed Ali who is now serving a five-month prison sentence for housing fraud.
Whitechapel may only be a mile away from the Bank geographically, but politically and demographically it’s another world entirely. Entirely south of the Whitechapel Road and served by Aldgate East and Whitechapel underground stations, the modern ward does not include the sites of the Ripper murders but does have some more modern history: within the current boundaries are Cable Street, where the 1936 battle started, and Sydney Street, scene of the 1911 siege which failed to flush out Peter the Painter and is now commemorated by two modern-day blocks of flats called Siege House and Painter House. Slightly more tasteful is the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, still in operation today, while major public buildings within the ward include the controversial PFI Royal London Hospital and the equally controversial East London Mosque.
While Whitechapel took its name from the former church of St Mary Matfelon, which didn’t survive the wartime bombing, it was once a centre of the Jewish community and the predecessor St Mary’s ward returned Communists to Tower Hamlets council as late as 1971. Boundary changes confuse the issue slightly, but this is now a Bangladeshi centre – the former Whitechapel ward made the top 100 wards in England and Wales for Asian ethnicity (49.7%), those born in the EU-14 (8.0%), Islam (42.4%) and those who did not answer the census’ religion question (17.0%).
Accordingly the ward tends to elect a full slate of Bangladeshi councillors, with Shahed Ali topping the poll in 2014. Ali was first elected in 2006 as a candidate of George Galloway’s Respect party, being re-elected in 2010 on the Labour ticket and in 2014 as a supporter of then Mayor Lutfur Rahman under the label “Tower Hamlets First”. He was named in the court case which removed Rahman from office, the court noting that Ali was registered to vote at two different addresses in Whitechapel ward and two votes were cast in his name in the 2014 election. One of those addresses was a council property in Christian Street, Aldgate, and Ali had accepted that flat in 2009 without having disclosed to his own council that he also owned a string of other properties both within and outside the borough.
In 2014 – the only previous result on these boundaries – the Rahmanite slate had 40% of the vote to 26% for Labour and 13% for a single Green Party candidate. The London Assembly results from May suggest that this is very safe Labour without a Rahmanite on the ballot paper: Sadiq Khan beat Zac Goldsmith 67-14 and in the London Members ballot Labour led the Tories 60-13.
With the dissolution of Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First the defending Rahmanite candidate is Shafi Ahmed, standing as an independent. Labour have selected Victoria Obaze, a Fabian member and secondary school governor from Mile End who has twice previously stood for the council. The Greens have selected local housing campaigner James Wilson, and the ballot paper is completed by Will Fletcher for the Tories, Emanuel Andjelic for the Lib Dems and Martin Smith for UKIP.
Parliamentary constituency: Bethnal Green and Bow (part north of Fenchurch Street railway line); Poplar and Limehouse (part south of Fenchurch Street railway line)
May 2014 result Tower Hamlets First 2139/2117/2088 Lab 1359/1190/1188 Grn 703 C 409/405/345 LD 358 UKIP 199 TUSC 139
May 2016 GLA result (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Lab 2301 C 491 Grn 248 LD 130 Respect 117 Women’s Equality 69 Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol 39 UKIP 30 Britain First 14 BNP 8 One Love 6 Ind 6
List: Lab 2084 C 465 Grn 352 LD 187 Respect 151 Women’s Equality 120 UKIP 56 Animal Welfare 21 Brtain First 16 BNP 16 House Party 13 CPA 11
Chichester district council, West Sussex; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Bruce Finch. He had served since 2011.
Moving out of London, we are on the coast in the south-eastern corner of Sussex. Southbourne is the place where the Portsmouth conurbation ends and Sussex begins, a village of a little over 6,000 souls; it is sufficiently close to the Hampshire boundary to have a Hampshire postcode (PO10, for Emsworth). The ward also includes West Thorney, a Royal Artillery base on an island in Chichester Harbour, home to around 1,000 people and rather more seabirds, and once a transit post for Vietnamese refugees accepted into the UK in the 1980s. Much of the ward is within the Chichester Harbour area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the area has a commuter economic profile with high employment levels.
Southbourne ward’s three seats split two Conservative and one Lib Dem in 2003 but the Tories gained a full slate in 2007 and have yet to relinquish it. In the 2015 election the Tories prevailed 58-42 in a straight fight with the Lib Dems – a surprising candidate list because UKIP hold the local county council seat (Bourne).
Defending for the Tories is David Harwood, a private hire driver. The Lib Dem candidate is Southbourne parish councillor Jonathan Brown. Also standing are Rebecca Hamlet for Labour and Patricia Hunt for UKIP.
Parliamentary constituency: Chichester
West Sussex county council division: Bourne
May 2015 result C 1994/1865/1847 LD 1437/914/878
May 2011 result C 1158/1154/1104 LD 836/621/584 Lab 346 Ind 318
May 2007 result C 970/961/913 LD 828/827/716
May 2003 result C 743/739/679 LD 694/623/530 UKIP 170 Lab 159/149/145
Dorset county council; caused by the resignation of UKIP councillor Ian Smith who had served since 2013.
There are some wards which just can’t stop having by-elections; we were in Ferndown, Dorset only three months ago and now it’s time for another by-election to the same county division. A mostly twentieth-century development – until 1972 its parish council was still known by its former name of Hampreston – Ferndown essentially functions as a dormitory town for the Bournemouth-Poole conurbation. It’s also a retirement centre: the former Ferndown Central ward was in the top 10 wards in England and Wales for population over the age of 64 (44.4%) and in the top 30 wards for retired population (32.6% of the workforce), while another part of the division, Parley ward, is in the top 100 for population over the age of 64 (35%) and in the top 20 for owner-occupation (94% of households).
That really sets the tone for Ferndown county division’s recent election results, in which UKIP gained a seat off the Tories in the 2013 election; the UKIP slate topped the poll that year 45-44. That result came as a surprise to UKIP’s councillor Ian Smith, who didn’t turn up for the count because he didn’t think he would win. That UKIP surge didn’t follow through into the 2015 East Dorset elections; although boundary changes confuse the issue the Tories hold all the district seats wholly or partly within the division, and September’s by-election suggests that the Kippers are in trouble here: the Tories won that poll 57-30 and had a similar result in a district council by-election in Parley ward on the same day.
This by-election is the second faceoff in three months between UKIP’s Lawrence Wilson and the Tories’ Peter Stokes, both of whom contested the Parley ward district council by-election in September; but this time Wilson is the defending candidate rather than the challenger. Completing the ballot paper are Jason Jones for the Lib Dems and Peter Stokes for Labour. Whoever wins will be straight back onto the campaign trail to seek re-election in May.
Parliamentary constituency: Christchurch
East Dorset council wards: Ameysford, Ferndown Central (part), Hampreston and Longham (part), Parley
Sept 2016 by-election C 2046 UKIP 1092 LD 260 Lab 190
May 2013 result UKIP 2222/2027 C 2187/2025 Lab 567/466
June 2009 result C 3575/3460 UKIP 1780/1691 LD 913/873 Lab 368
May 2005 result C 5390/5306 LD 2422/2316 Ind 1497 Lab 1480 UKIP 1083
South Northamptonshire council; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Simon Clifford. He had served since being elected in a double by-election in October 2014.
There are some wards which just can’t stop having by-elections. We saw one last week (Carlisle, Castle) and here’s another one. Grange Park is a large village to the south of Northampton, just off the M1 motorway at junction 15. It’s also an almost completely new village, mostly developed in the last fourteen years. The 2001 census found just 327 people living in the parish; two years later there were 2,375 registered electors, and the district ward that then contained the village (Courteenhall, with two councillors) had grown so much that the entire district had to have new ward boundaries. Grange Park became a ward of its own, with two councillors of its own, in 2007. By the time of 2011 census the parish’s population was 4,404; despite this, I wrote in this column the following year that the village didn’t even appear in my 2011 A-Z road atlas. The A to Z Company have caught up and show the relevant built-up area in their 2013 atlas, although it still doesn’t have a name.
Perhaps because of its short life, Grange Park has a remarkable age distribution: it is in the top 10 wards in England and Wales for 30- to 44-year-olds (34.4%) and in the top 25 wards in England and Wales for under-16s (29.8% of the population). It’s also in the top 40 wards in England and Wales for full-time employment (56.9% of the workforce) and that employment is determinedly middle-class. That would appear to be borne out by the ward’s election results; the Conservatives were unopposed here in 2007 (South Northants is one of those councils that has lots of unopposed returns), beat the Lib Dems 76-24 in a 2009 by-election, a single Independent candidate 75-25 at the 2011 election, the Lib Dems 76-24 (again) in a 2012 by-election, beat Labour 63-22 in a 2014 double by-election and beat Labour 71-29 in the 2015 election. As can be seen, the ward has a high councillor attrition rate, with this being the fourth by-election and fifth vacancy in the nine years the ward has existed; one councillor for the ward (Tharik Jainu-Deen) actually managed to resign twice, serving non-consecutive terms. Northamptonshire county council was redistricted in 2013 and Grange Park ended up in a new division with Hackleton to the east, which narrowly elected the Conservatives with 42.2% of the vote, to 41.1% for UKIP.
Defending for the Tories is Andrew Grant, a former cabinet member on South Northamptonshire council who is seeking to make a quick return after losing his seat to the Lib Dems in Towcester Mill ward in 2015. Andrew is also a former Northamptonshire county councillor, losing his seat in 2013. He is not the only Grant on the ballot as Labour have reselected local resident Ian Grant, who is standing here for the third time in as many years. Completing the ballot paper are Andy Clarke for the Green Party and Rose Gibbins for UKIP.
Northamptonshire county council division: Hackleton and Grange Park
Parliamentary constituency: South Northamptonshire
ONS Travel to Work Area: Northampton and Wellingborough
May 2015 result C 1459/1032 Lab 584
October 2014 double by-election C 433/313 Lab 151 UKIP 100/84
Feb 2012 by-election C 313 LD 98
May 2011 result C 697/590 Ind 231
Feb 2009 by-election C 407 LD 128
May 2007 result 2 C unopposed
MYTON AND HEATHCOTE
Warwick coucil; caused by the death of Conservative councillor Raj Mann. He had served since 2015.
For our final preview this week we are in the town of Warwick, but this isn’t the nice-looking historic bit. Instead Myton and Heathcote ward covers south-eastern suburbs of the town on the south side of the Warwickshire Avon; Myton lies along the A425 road connecting Warwick with Leamington Spa, while Heathcote refers to a recently developed set of housing estates and business and technology parks on the edge of Leam. The business park has attracted a large number of high-end and large companies including the head office of National Grid, which moved here from Coventry in 2004; although boundary changes confuse the issue that gives the area an educated middle-class demographic. Exactly the sort of demographic that voted Remain in large numbers in June, and Warwick was the only local government district in the West Midlands which Remain carried in the referendum.
As stated, boundary changes confuse the issue here: Warwick got new ward boundaries in 2015 which redrew Warwick town from three wards to five. Myton and Heathcote is essentially a cut-down version (with one fewer councillor) of the Warwick South ward which existed from 2003 to 2015 and was normally safe Tory (except in 2003 when a Residents Association candidate topped the poll). Myton and Heathcote has continued in the same vein: in 2015 it gave 43% to the Tory slate against evenly-divided opposition (15% for an independent, 15% for the Lib Dems, 14% for the Green slate). The Tories also hold the Warwick South seat on the county council.
Defending for the Tories is Mary Noone, a solicitor. The Lib Dem candidate is property manager Nick Solman, and Labour’s Ben Wesson completes the ballot paper.
Parliamentary constituency: Warwick and Leamington
Warwickshire county council division: Warwick South
May 2015 result C 1286/1252 Ind 440/370 LD 431 Grn 427/383 UKIP 374