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Local By-Election Preview : June 25th 2015

June 25th, 2015

Market and West Deeping on South Kesteven (Deferred Election: One Conservative Defence and Two Independent Defences from 2011)
Result of council at last full election (2011): Conservatives 39, Independents 12, Labour 6, Liberal Democrats 1 (Conservative majority of 20)
Result of ward at last full election (2011) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives: 959, 766 (40%)
Independents: 847, 844, 533 (35%)
Green Party: 622, 330, 302 (26%)
Candidates duly nominated:
Conservative: Nick Neilson
Liberal Democrats: Adam Brookes
Independents: Ashley Baxter, Bob Broughton, David Shelton
United Kingdom Independence Party: William Learoyd, Robert O’Farrell, Roger Woodbridge

South Kesteven has always had a Conservative history but like the rest of rural Lincolnshire the Independents have always been a strong force. In 2003, there were twelve of them, in 2007 they increased to fifteen before falling back to twelve again in 2011.

However, in the local elections in the other parts of the county the Indepenents had a new opposition in the form of UKIP with a total of 33 district councillors being elected compared to just 18 Independents. There is already a UKIP councillor on South Kesteven so could UKIP take those two Independent seats or as we saw last week have UKIP peaked already?

Romsey on Cambridgeshire (Liberal Democrat defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 32, Liberal Democrats 14, United Kingdom Independence Party 12, Labour 7, Independents 4 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Liberal Democrat 1,118 (48%), Labour 741 (32%), Green Party 138 (6%), Cambridge Socialists 118 (5%), United Kingdom Independence Party 118 (5%), Conservatives 103 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Debbie Aitchison (Green), Richard Jeffs (UKIP), Nichola Martin (Lib Dem), Zoe Moghadas (Lab), Raja Rahatul (Con)

Cambridgeshire can be a rather confusing county. Not only does it have two wards that sound the same (RAMSEY and ROMSEY) but because it’s the districts that deal with the elections not the county, you need to know what part of the county is up for election before making an assessment. For instance RAMSEY is in Huntingdonshire (Con / UKIP battleground) where as ROMSEY is in Cambridge (Lab / Lib Dem battleground) and so as a result you might think the Liberal Democrats are looking at this by-election and thinking “Oh dear, here we go again!”.

Yes, Labour did indeed gain Cambridge at the general election but only on an 8% swing from Lib Dem to Lab (2% lower than the national swing) but the Liberal Democrat vote only fell from 39% to 35% (thanks in part to the Conservative vote collapsing from 26% to 16%) in other words clear tactical voting by Conservatives to keep the Liberal Democrat in. Now, I realise that in Romsey with only 4% of the vote that probably won’t happen but could another party come to the Lib Dems aid or indeed could Labour voters think that this election is not worth coming out to vote for?

Harry Hayfield