So, there are just two weeks to go now before 2017’s main electoral course of the general election. There is just one local by-election remaining before then, but if you were looking for insights into the national picture you’re likely to be disappointed for this is a ward that behaves in its own way. Without further ado, we’re off to the end of the Thames Estuary…


Shoeburyness

Southend-on-Sea council, Essex; caused by the death of independent councillor Mike Assenheim at the age of 74. He had served since 2008 and was a cabinet member in 2014-15, holding the regulatory services portfolio.

Defence is a subject we have already heard a lot about in this general election campaign, mainly thanks to the issues the present Labour leadership has over the Trident missile system; no doubt we shall hear more about this when the Conservatives (as appears likely) gain Barrow and Furness on 8th June with an enormous majority. In an earlier age of naval-based conflict Shoeburyness was in the front line, as the northern gateway to the Thames Estuary. The army have been here for centuries, and the East Beach still contains the remains of a Second World War defence boom to stop enemy ships progressing towards London; the discovery in the offshore mud of an enemy magnetic mine around this time enabled the Navy to take countermeasures against hitherto unexplained ship losses (such as making minesweepers out of wood).

The Army’s work in Shoeburyness didn’t just extend to wartime. We discussed last week the impact of the various Enfield rifles on the area where they were manufactured; since the Crimean War Shoeburyness has been an artillery testing and training centre, and MOD Shoeburyness is still in operation today for weapons testing and bomb-disposal training. The effect of all this is that Shoeburyness is traditionally a garrison town, although there was some fishing here (as depicted two centuries ago in Turner’s painting Shoeburyness Fishermen Hailing a Whitstable Hoy, the town’s high-quality beaches bring some tourists and its location at the end of the London, Tilbury and Southend railway line results in some commuting to Fenchurch Street in London.

Southend in the 1930s and the present ward was created in 2001. It has an interesting educational profile, making the top 100 wards in England and Wales for those educated to what the census codes as “Level 1”, which in real money translates to 1-4 GCSEs or equivalent, and making the top 200 wards for “Level 2” education (5 or more GCSEs or equivalent); both of these levels account for between 19% and 20% of the workforce, and may be explained by the military effect.

At its first election in June 2001, on the day of Tony Blair’s second landslide, Shoeburyness ward split its three seats. Two went to the Conservatives and one to the lead Labour candidate Anne Chalk, who was immediately forced to resign as at the time she was ineligible to be a councillor. The Conservatives gained the resulting by-election a month later, and Chalk made several attempts to get her seat back as a Labour candidate in the following years. In the meantime Mike Assenheim arrived on the scene, finishing fourth behind Chalk in the 2006 election (which was a double vacancy) as an “Alliance Southend” candidate, then second in the 2007 election as an independent before finally winning the ward in 2008.

With the Tory stranglehold on Shoeburyness broken, Anne Chalk returned to the fray as an independent candidate, finishing second in 2010 and finally winning in 2011. By now in some disarray, the Conservatives lost their final Shoeburyness seat in 2012 to a third independent, and have since won the ward only with the general election turnout in 2015, when they narrowly defeated Chalk 39-35 with 18% for Labour. This prompted Chalk to try to return to Southend council in 2016 by challenging Mike Assenheim: while Assenheim was re-elected it was only with 29% of the vote, to 24% for the Conservatives, 21% for Chalk and 12% for UKIP. Going into that election Assenheim had been part of an independent-led coalition running Southend council, but the Conservatives are now in minority control with UKIP support which may make this ward more difficult to gain. In case you’re wondering what all this means for the local parliamentary seat in two weeks’ time, the answer is “not a lot”: Rochford and Southend East is a safe Tory constituency.

So, an interesting contest is in prospect. Anne Chalk is the defending independent candidate. The Tories have selected Val Jarvis, who is the husband of Roger Jarvis (councillor for the neighbouring West Shoebury ward) and fought St Luke’s ward in 2015. UKIP, who won five seats on Southend council in 2014 only for their group to fall apart in typical UKIP fashion, have reselected their 2016 candidate for this ward Edward McNally. Completing the ballot paper are Maggie Kelly for Labour, Paul Hill for the Greens and Gavin Spencer for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Rochford and Southend East

May 2016 result Ind 728 C 607 Ind 527 UKIP 309 Lab 236 Grn 57 LD 50
May 2015 result C 1991 Ind 1783 Lab 929 Grn 289 LD 138
May 2014 result Ind 1243 C 909 Lab 404 LD 77
May 2012 result Ind 1098 C 610 Lab 271 EDP 145
May 2011 result Ind 1326 C 960 Lab 328 Grn 110
May 2010 result C 1782 Ind 1132 Lab 579 LD 556 BNP 265 UKIP 242 Grn 73
May 2008 result Ind 1009 C 659 Lab 250 BNP 211 LD 75
May 2007 result C 788 Ind 658 Lab 481 BNP 315 LD 107
May 2006 double vacancy C 1071/884 Lab 707/438 Alliance Southend 629 LD 232/150
June 2004 result C 1274 Lab 561 LD 283
May 2003 result C 810 Lab 472 LD 147
May 2002 result C 675 Ind 535 Lab 479 LD 103
July 2001 by-election C 509 Lab 400 LD 133
June 2001 result C 1877/1536/1415 Lab 1485/1264/1148 LD 419/347

Andrew Teale edits the Local Elections Archive Project and sometimes tweets at @andrewteale.

So, there are just two weeks to go now before 2017’s main electoral course of the general election. There is just one local by-election remaining before then, but if you were looking for insights into the national picture you’re likely to be disappointed for this is a ward that behaves in its own way. Without further ado, we’re off to the end of the Thames Estuary…


SHOEBURYNESS

Southend-on-Sea council, Essex; caused by the death of independent councillor Mike Assenheim at the age of 74. He had served since 2008 and was a cabinet member in 2014-15, holding the regulatory services portfolio.

Defence is a subject we have already heard a lot about in this general election campaign, mainly thanks to the issues the present Labour leadership has over the Trident missile system; no doubt we shall hear more about this when the Conservatives (as appears likely) gain Barrow and Furness on 8th June with an enormous majority. In an earlier age of naval-based conflict Shoeburyness was in the front line, as the northern gateway to the Thames Estuary. The army have been here for centuries, and the East Beach still contains the remains of a Second World War defence boom to stop enemy ships progressing towards London; the discovery in the offshore mud of an enemy magnetic mine around this time enabled the Navy to take countermeasures against hitherto unexplained ship losses (such as making minesweepers out of wood).

The Army’s work in Shoeburyness didn’t just extend to wartime. We discussed last week the impact of the various Enfield rifles on the area where they were manufactured; since the Crimean War Shoeburyness has been an artillery testing and training centre, and MOD Shoeburyness is still in operation today for weapons testing and bomb-disposal training. The effect of all this is that Shoeburyness is traditionally a garrison town, although there was some fishing here (as depicted two centuries ago in Turner’s painting Shoeburyness Fishermen Hailing a Whitstable Hoy, the town’s high-quality beaches bring some tourists and its location at the end of the London, Tilbury and Southend railway line results in some commuting to Fenchurch Street in London.

Southend in the 1930s and the present ward was created in 2001. It has an interesting educational profile, making the top 100 wards in England and Wales for those educated to what the census codes as “Level 1”, which in real money translates to 1-4 GCSEs or equivalent, and making the top 200 wards for “Level 2” education (5 or more GCSEs or equivalent); both of these levels account for between 19% and 20% of the workforce, and may be explained by the military effect.

At its first election in June 2001, on the day of Tony Blair’s second landslide, Shoeburyness ward split its three seats. Two went to the Conservatives and one to the lead Labour candidate Anne Chalk, who was immediately forced to resign as at the time she was ineligible to be a councillor. The Conservatives gained the resulting by-election a month later, and Chalk made several attempts to get her seat back as a Labour candidate in the following years. In the meantime Mike Assenheim arrived on the scene, finishing fourth behind Chalk in the 2006 election (which was a double vacancy) as an “Alliance Southend” candidate, then second in the 2007 election as an independent before finally winning the ward in 2008.

With the Tory stranglehold on Shoeburyness broken, Anne Chalk returned to the fray as an independent candidate, finishing second in 2010 and finally winning in 2011. By now in some disarray, the Conservatives lost their final Shoeburyness seat in 2012 to a third independent, and have since won the ward only with the general election turnout in 2015, when they narrowly defeated Chalk 39-35 with 18% for Labour. This prompted Chalk to try to return to Southend council in 2016 by challenging Mike Assenheim: while Assenheim was re-elected it was only with 29% of the vote, to 24% for the Conservatives, 21% for Chalk and 12% for UKIP. Going into that election Assenheim had been part of an independent-led coalition running Southend council, but the Conservatives are now in minority control with UKIP support which may make this ward more difficult to gain. In case you’re wondering what all this means for the local parliamentary seat in two weeks’ time, the answer is “not a lot”: Rochford and Southend East is a safe Tory constituency.

So, an interesting contest is in prospect. Anne Chalk is the defending independent candidate. The Tories have selected Val Jarvis, who is the husband of Roger Jarvis (councillor for the neighbouring West Shoebury ward) and fought St Luke’s ward in 2015. UKIP, who won five seats on Southend council in 2014 only for their group to fall apart in typical UKIP fashion, have reselected their 2016 candidate for this ward Edward McNally. Completing the ballot paper are Maggie Kelly for Labour, Paul Hill for the Greens and Gavin Spencer for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Rochford and Southend East

May 2016 result Ind 728 C 607 Ind 527 UKIP 309 Lab 236 Grn 57 LD 50
May 2015 result C 1991 Ind 1783 Lab 929 Grn 289 LD 138
May 2014 result Ind 1243 C 909 Lab 404 LD 77
May 2012 result Ind 1098 C 610 Lab 271 EDP 145
May 2011 result Ind 1326 C 960 Lab 328 Grn 110
May 2010 result C 1782 Ind 1132 Lab 579 LD 556 BNP 265 UKIP 242 Grn 73
May 2008 result Ind 1009 C 659 Lab 250 BNP 211 LD 75
May 2007 result C 788 Ind 658 Lab 481 BNP 315 LD 107
May 2006 double vacancy C 1071/884 Lab 707/438 Alliance Southend 629 LD 232/150
June 2004 result C 1274 Lab 561 LD 283
May 2003 result C 810 Lab 472 LD 147
May 2002 result C 675 Ind 535 Lab 479 LD 103
July 2001 by-election C 509 Lab 400 LD 133
June 2001 result C 1877/1536/1415 Lab 1485/1264/1148 LD 419/347

Andrew Teale edits the Local Elections Archive Project and sometimes tweets at @andrewteale.