Monday, 11 July 2016

By-election Previews: 14 July 2016

Ten local by-elections this week.  Six covered over on the English Elections blog, two on the Welsh Elections blog, and two below.

Cornwall council
Caused respectively by the resignations of UKIP councillor Mark Hicks and independent councillor John Lugg.  Hicks, who had served since 2013, has resigned for personal reasons.  Lugg, who started his local government career over forty years ago and was first elected to the former North Corwall district council in 1979, is suffering from poor health.

Delabole Slate Yard, St Teath
There are two Cornish by-elections this week.  One comes in the village of St Columb Minor, once the major settlement in its area but now an eastern suburb of the seaside resort of Newquay; it is the major part of Newquay Treviglas division, whose name refers to Treviglas College, a secondary school and sixth-form college located just outside the village.

Further up the north coast is St Teath and St Breward division, which runs from the summit of Cornwall's highest point, Brown Willy, down to the sea, surrounding the town of Camelford on three sides.  The Brown Willy moorland is known for prehistoric remains and also for granite and china clay quarrying, while the divison's largest centre of population is the slate-quarrying village of Delabole, once the location of the world's deepest man-made pit and since 1991 home to the UK's first commercial onshore windfarm; Delabole's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and high altitude (around 800 feet) made it a perfect site for a windfarm.

Newquay Treviglas was created for the inaugural 2009 Cornwall council election and was won in its first contest by independent candidate Harry Heywood, who had been Restormel district councillor for the Rialton ward which covered the area before 2007.  Heywood stood down in 2013 and his seat went to UKIP on a low share of the vote, 30% to 27% for the Conservatives, 25% for the Lib Dems and 18% for Labour.

St Teath and St Breward is another 2009 creation, surviving unchanged in the 2013 boundary review except for its name - the 2009 division with the same boundaries was simply called St Teath.  Before 2009 most of this area was in the Camelot ward of North Cornwall council, which Lugg represented as an independent with large vote shares; St Breward was in a ward with Blisland to the south which was Tory unopposed in 2003 but a Lib Dem gain in 2007.  Lugg's popularity has carried over to the unitary Cornwall council, and at his last re-election in 2013 he beat the Tories 65-35 in a straight fight.

So the previous form in both divisions doesn't really tell us all that much, although it says something of the disarray that Cornwall UKIP find themselves in that they have not found a candidate to defend Newquay Treviglas.  From winning six seats in 2013, this will be UKIP's fourth by-election loss in Cornwall since then and they have another seat to defend later this year.  With Newquay Treviglas up for grabs, the Tories have selected a strong candidate in Carl Leadbetter, the Mayor of Newquay who represents the ward on Newquay town council; he is a former hotelier and had served in the RAF.  The Lib Dem candidate is Paul Summers, a former town councillor who has recently retired after 36 years as a teacher.  Julian Grover is the Labour candidate.  Completing the ballot paper is George Edwards, a former Mayor of Newquay and former Restormel councillor for the town, who lost his seat on Cornwall council in 2013 - in those previous elections he was a Lib Dem, but he is now standing as an independent.

In St Teath no fewer than three independents have come forward to succeed Lugg.  Taking them alphabetically, Eddie Jones is a former chairman of St Teath parish council; William Kitto gives an address in St Teath; and Susan Theobald is a former clerk to St Teath parish council.  On the party political side of a crowded ballot paper, the Conservative candidate is Jeremy Stanford-Davis of St Teath; the Lib Dems' Dominic Fairman is a farmer who has diversified into camping and yurts; and the Labour candidate David Garrigan has resorted to crowdfunding websites to finance his campaign.

Newquay Treviglas
Parliamentary constituency: St Austell and Newquay

May 2013 result UKIP 266 C 237 LD 218 Lab 156

St Teath and St Breward
Parliamentary constituency: North Cornwall

May 2013 result Ind 628 LD 388 C 204
June 2009 result (St Teath) Ind 957 C 512