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

The 20th July 2017 edition of Andrew’s Previews has it all, with eight resignations and one disqualification. There is scandal and intrigue, Saints and sinners as we discuss several cases of councillors behaving badly: from the minor embarrassments of drink-driving, irregular expense claims, business failures and disagreeing with Jeremy Corbyn to the more serious stuff of planning offences, solicitors in trouble and five-figure fines. There are, like the TV schedules at this time of year, Channel 4 reality TV shows interspersed with rather a lot of repeats. There are market towns in Kent, Staffordshire and Cumbria, rural villages in Sussex and Rutland, suburban estates in south London, Merseyside and the Tees Valley. There are four Conservative defences, three Labour, one Liberal Democrat and Britain Elects’ favourite type of by-election, a free-for-all. There really is something for everyone this week. Last week’s column went from south to north, so it’s time to reverse direction and travel the length of England, starting in Cumbria. Read on…


Alston Moor

Eden council, Cumbria; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Thomas Sheriff after less than a year in office. He was elected for the ward in a by-election in August 2016.

When reading something, it’s traditional to start at the top, and Alston Moor certainly counts as the top: it’s one of the highest wards in England. Alston itself vies with Buxton for the title of England’s highest market town, lying in the valley of the South Tyne over 1,000 feet above sea level. The town’s economy was traditionally based on mining: there are large deposits of lead, silver and coal in the area. The nearby village of Nenthead, at over 1,500 feet, dates only from the mid-eighteenth century: built by the London Lead Company to serve the Nenthead mines, it was the UK’s first village to have electric street lighting. Tynehead, once another thriving mining village but now reduced to a single house, was once the location of England’s highest primary school, while Garrigill lies on the Pennine Way at the end of the descent from its highest point, Cross Fell. With the end of mining in the area (although there are thought to be significant zinc deposits below Nenthead) the population of Alston Moor parish and ward, which includes the town, all those villages and a large amount of moorland and was a Rural District of its own until 1974, has crashed from over 6,800 in 1831 to around 2,100 today, and Alston’s Wikipedia page paints a picture of a town in serious decline: its last bank closed in 2015 and Channel 4 were in town in 2006 with a documentary examining a serious male : female imbalance in the local population. When Eden’s ward boundaries were last reviewed in 1997 Alston Moor ward was very lucky to get away with unchanged boundaries given that its electorate was then nearly 20% below quota. Tourism, farming and metalworking are now the main local employers; self-employment rates in the ward are high and there is a relatively old age profile.

Despite its location in South Tynedale, Alston is included within Eden district council which is based in Penrith and covers a large and very sparsely populated swathe of eastern Cumbria. Eden council is traditionally dominated by independent councillors, but Alston has had some very strange election results over the last year. The Conservatives have held one of the ward’s two seats since 2011, but in 2016 the Conservative councillor David Hymers, who held the economic development portfolio on Eden council, resigned after his business affairs were featured in the Rotten Boroughs column of Private Eye. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t exactly flattering coverage – essentially his business Totalpost Services, a distributor of airport x-ray equipment, had gone into liquidation owing a seven-figure sum. The resulting by-election in August 2016 saw the Tories being beaten 55-45 by the Lib Dems in a straight fight, but the Lib Dem councillor has since resigned to cause this by-election. The strangeness continued with the county elections in May, in which the ward’s independent county councillor Mary Robinson was unexpectedly defeated by Labour who have no track record in the local county division (Alston and East Fellside).

So anything could happen here, but one thing is guaranteed: there will be a gain because there is no defending Liberal Democrat candidate and the seat is up for grabs. Taking the four candidates in ballot paper order, the Conservatives have selected Jim Clapp from Garrigill, who is the parish’s vet and therefore had a high profile during the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis which hit Cumbria hard. There is one independent candidate, Lai Heung “Holly” Ho who is an Alston Moor parish councillor. The Green Party have selected their local party secretary Richard O’Brien – no, not that one – who fought Kirkby Stephen in the county elections in May, and the Labour candidate is youth worker Lissie Sharp.

Parliamentary constituency: Penrith and the Border
Cumbria county council division: Alston and East Fellside

August 2016 by-election LD 302 C 251
May 2015 result Ind 710/446 C 487
May 2011 result Ind 436/177/161 C 390 Lab 242
May 2007 result Ind 533 Ind 498 Ind 235
May 2003 result 2 Ind unopposed
May 1999 result Ind 489/466/285 Lab 155
May 1995 result Ind 550/329/193
May 1991 result Ind 503/326/321/196
May 1987 result Ind 353/320/279 Lab 225
May 1983 result Ind 417/412 Lab 249/228
May 1979 result 2 Ind unopposed
May 1976 result 2 Ind unopposed
May 1973 result Ind 415/403/283


Billingham North

Stockton-on-Tees council, County Durham; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Stephen Parry. Parry resigned shortly before the general election in opposition to Jeremy Corbyn.

We seem to having a glut of by-elections in the Tees Valley conurbation at the moment, with already two polls in Middlesbrough and one in Yarm since the general election. This time we move to the Durham bank of the Tees and to a collection of housing estates on the northern edge of Billingham off Marsh House Avenue which have mostly gone up since the 1970s. Billingham is one of the UK’s most important centres for chemicals: ICI Billingham and associated companies (like the Nobel dynamite works and Tioxide, where your columnist’s father once worked) was one of the North East’s most important employers back in the day, and ICI paid well enough that many of its employees ran two cars. (They needed to: the staff car park was placed directly under the fallout from the chimneys, so anything parked there on a regular basis would turn into a rustbucket within months.) The business rates paid by ICI meant that the old Billingham Urban District Council was able to afford modern amenities such as a shopping centre and theatre (the Billingham Forum) much earlier and to a higher standard than towns of a comparable size. Chemicals are still important to Billingham’s economy, and this ward is less than a mile away from the fast-growing Wynyard Business Park on the far side of the A19 which is described as one of the North East’s most prestigious business addresses. It’s not surprising that Billingham North ward is within the top 60 wards in England and Wales for population educated to Apprenticeship level (7.3% of the workforce) or that employment levels within the ward are high.

Interestingly this is not a safe Labour ward and never has been. Billingham North (and its predecessor on the 1979-2005 boundaries, Marsh House ward) has generally been a close Labour versus Lib Dem fight since the Alliance gained a seat in the ward in 1987. Boundary changes in 2005, as well as cutting out the village of Wolviston and renaming the resulting ward Billingham North, granted an extra councillor to the ward to reflect strong population growth. The Lib Dem councillors for Billingham North left the party in 2010 over the creation of the Coalition and rebadged themselves as the Billingham Independents Association, under which label they have not been quite as successful: Labour gained a seat in the ward in the 2011 election, and rode the general election turnout to a full slate of three seats in 2015. Shares of the vote that year were 35% for Labour, 24% for the Independents, 21% for UKIP and 20% for the Conservatives.

Without a general election turnout it’s not a guarantee that Labour can hold this if the independents get their act together. The defending Labour candidate is Paul Weston who works in the housing sector. The independent candidate is Jennifer Apedaile, Lib Dem and then independent councillor for Marsh House ward 2003-05 and Billingham North ward 2005-15. There is no UKIP candidate. Standing for the Tories is Sam Linley, who according to his Twitter is a second-year physics student at the University of York. Completing the ballot paper are Mark Burdon for the North East Party (a devolution campaign group) and official Liberal Democrat candidate David Minchella.

Parliamentary constituency: Stockton North

May 2015 result Lab 1633/1405/1390 Billingham Independents Association 1137/1060/822 UKIP 964/786 C 913/841/641
May 2011 result Billingham Independents Association 1039/980/905 Lab 935/888/882 C 637/574/535 LD 145/106/88
May 2007 result LD 1107/1092/998 Lab 714/691/654 C 592/567/565 BNP 341 UKIP 191/181
May 2005 result LD 2160/2053/1835 Lab 1493/1476/1424 C 804


St Michaels

Knowsley council, Merseyside; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Vickie Lamb. She had served since winning a by-election in April 2013.

The two by-elections above may look like a certain change and a possible change, but only the most deluded gambler would bet against a Labour hold in this week’s Merseyside by-election. We’re in St Michaels ward, post-war suburbia on the eastern edge of Huyton along the Liverpool Road and Huyton Lane.

Huyton will forever be politically associated with Harold Wilson, who wherever he is now is presumably looking down on Huyton (or up at it, depending on your political tastes) and tut-tutting at the Knowsley branch of Labour for letting one-party representation on Knowsley council slip in 2016. That was in connection with a boundary review which cut the size of Knowsley council from 63 councillors (all Labour) to 45 (42 Labour and 3 Lib Dems); while St Michaels ward survived in name it has very different boundaries from the 2004-16 St Michaels ward where Labour were perfectly capable of exceeding 90% in a good year. The only previous result on these boundaries is from 2016 when Labour, who were guaranteed a seat in the ward due to insufficient opposition candidates, beat UKIP 74-17.

Defending for Labour is Mike Kearns, who is hoping to resume what thus far has been a distinctly chequered career on Knowsley council: he was councillor for Longview ward from 1994 to 2008 when he was deselected following a drink-driving conviction, returned in 2012 by gaining Prescot West ward from the Liberal Democrats, but lost his seat in that ward back to the Lib Dems in 2016. There is no UKIP candidate this time so Kearns is opposed by Dean Boyle of the Lib Dems and Kirk Sandringham of the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Knowsley

May 2016 result Lab 1200/1185/1156 UKIP 279 C 134


Leek East

Staffordshire Moorlands council; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Rebecca Done. A professional singer, she had served since 2015 and in 2016-17, at the age of 37, became the youngest-ever Mayor of Leek.

In this week’s progression from north to south Andrew’s Previews may now have officially entered the Midlands, but culturally we are still in the North. Rather like Alston, Leek is a rather poor fit for the county it’s in, being the southernmost of the old Pennine textile towns and traditionally a silk-working and agricultural centre. As in the rest of the Pennines, the textile industry declined decades ago and in recent years the town’s major employer was the Britannia building society, until the financial crisis led to the Britannia being taken over by the Co-op Bank, which then nearly choked while trying to swallow it. Don’t let that put you off visiting Leek, which has an attractive town centre – almost all of which is within Leek East ward.

Leek East is traditionally a contest between the Conservatives and a localist slate which presently goes by the name of Moorlands Democratic Alliance. The localists won all three seats in the ward in 2003, but lost them to the Conservatives in 2007 and the Conservatives easily held a by-election in March 2009. The Moorlands Democratic Alliance came back in the 2011 election, tying with the Conservatives for first place and winning two seats to the Tories’ one; the Tories recovered one of their seats in 2015. The 2015 result was rather fragmented with 28% for the Conservatives, 21% for the Moorlands Democratic Alliance, 19% for Labour, 15% for UKIP and 11% for the Greens. Just to make things more complicated, at county level the ward is part of Leek South division, which voted Conservative in 2005, UKIP in 2009, Conservative in a February 2012 by-election, and Labour in 2013 and 2017 – the Labour county councillor is the former Staffordshire Moorlands MP Charlotte Atkins.

So this is an idiosyncratic ward where anything could happen. The defending Tory candidate is Roy Tomkinson, a Leek town councillor. There is no Moorlands Democratic Alliance candidate, but bracketed in the localist category could be independent candidate Nick Sheldon, an IT worker at Leek United building society who is standing on a single issue of saving Leek Moorlands Hospital from closure; Sheldon stood in last month’s general election on this issue, polling 3.4% – which was good enough for third place ahead of the Lib Dems. Labour’s Darren Price, an architecture and urban design consultant, is seeking to return to the district council after losing his seat in 2015; he won a by-election in May 2013 to Leek North ward, which is more Labour-inclined, and was Labour candidate for Congleton in the 2015 general election. There is no UKIP or Green candidate, so the ballot paper is completed by the Lib Dems’ Roy Gregg.

Parliamentary constituency: Staffordshire Moorlands
Staffordshire county council division: Leek South

May 2015 result C 997/866/659 Moorlands Democratic Alliance 734/519 Lab 694/640 UKIP 537 Grn 407 LD 211
May 2011 result Moorlands Democratic Alliance 699/697/607 C 699/635/485 LD 253
March 2009 by-election C 452 LD 238 Ind 197 Staffs Ind Group 189 Grn 91
May 2007 result C 784/751/735 Ratepayers (Staffs Moorlands) 565/535/496 Lab 346
May 2003 result Ratepayers (Staffs Moorlands) 603/552/525 C 486/477 Lab 472/448 LD 194


Ketton

and

Whissendine

Rutland council; caused respectively by the resignations of Conservative councillor Diana MacDuff and Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Thomas. MacDuff had served since 2015, Thomas since winning a by-election in February 2016. Both councillors resigned due to work commitments.

By-elections are (or appear to be) statistically random events, which means that they are subject to many of the misconceptions that people have about randomness. One is that randomness should be fairly regularly spaced out like the numbers on your bingo card, but a look at the results from a few weeks’ National Lottery draws should persuade you this isn’t true. Randomness clumps, and strangeness clumps with it. Many of the locations covered in this week’s edition of Andrew’s Previews have appeared in this column at some point over the previous six years. So it is that the largest number of by-elections for any council this week occurs in England’s smallest county, and in both cases they are wards which have appeared here before.

Whissendine ward, in fact, appears to have a season ticket for this column: this is the fourth Whissendine by-election in nine years, a very high councillor attrition rate. Whissendine is the north-west corner of Rutland, a tiny ward based on a tiny village 30 miles north-west of Peterborough probably best known for its thirteenth-century church and nineteenth-century windmill.

As befits a ward with so many recent by-elections Whissendine has a complicated electoral history. It voted Conservative in 2003 and nobody opposed the Tories in 2007, but a November 2008 by-election returned independent candidate Brian Montgomery, who had been the first chairman of the Rutland unitary council, with a majority of just six votes over the Conservatives. Montgomery died in 2014 and the resulting by-election was won by Liberal Democrat candidate Sam Asplin, a 21-year-old teaching assistant at Whissendine primary school, with a majority of just thirteen votes over the Conservatives. Asplin resigned on health grounds in early 2016 (he was a candidate for Leicestershire county council in May, so hopefully those health problems are behind him now) and the resulting by-election was won easily by new Lib Dem candidate Keith Thomas who beat the Tories 65-27. Thomas has now resigned in his turn.

Ketton ward lies at the other end of Rutland, an group of parishes running south-west from Stamford along the north bank of the River Welland: Ketton, the fourth-largest settlement in Rutland with a population comfortably under 2,000, is joined by Barrowden, Tinwell and Tixover. The ward’s economy tixover rather nicely thanks to exports of limestone and associated products: Ketton supplies more than 10% of the UK’s cement, while its Jurassic limestone was used in the building of many Cambridge colleges.

Ketton ward’s commitment to democracy is rather less deep than Whissendine’s: it elected two independents in 2003, Hugh Rees and Barry Roper, who then joined the Conservatives and were re-elected unopposed in 2007. Rees didn’t seek re-election in 2011 and his replacement, also elected unopposed, was Christine Emmett who the following year made the bad career move of being the Tory candidate who lost the Corby by-election. Roper resigned in 2013 as he was moving out of the county and the by-election was rather narrowly held by the Conservatives over an independent candidate. The 2015 ordinary election, which was contested, showed the Tory slate easily in control, beating the Lib Dems 56-27; Emmett (who now works for High Speed 2) didn’t seek re-election and was replaced on the Tory slate by MacDuff.

The Ketton by-election is a straight fight. Defending for the Tories is Gordon Brown – no, not that one – who is a parish councillor in Barrowden. Challenging for the Lib Dems is Kenneth Siddle.

Whissendine could be a more difficult defence for the Lib Dems than it looks on paper. In last year’s by-election Keith Thomas was the only candidate to give an address in Whissendine; this time round the defending Liberal Democrat candidate Johannah Randall, a former patisserie owner from Oakham now working for High Speed 2, is the only candidate not to give an address in Whissendine. Not only do the other three candidates all give addresses in Whissendine, they all give addresses on the same road in Whissendine – remember what I was saying about randomness clumping? The chief challenge is likely to come from the Tories’ Peter Jones, former councillor for Oakham South West ward who lost his seat in 2011 by just two votes. (There were apparently five recounts, which seems a little excessive given that the margin was 279-277.) Also standing are independent candidates Ian Arnold, who organises an annual road race and whose wife Linda sits on Whissendine parish council, and Whissendine parish councillor Sue Lammin.

Ketton

Parliamentary constituency: Rutland and Melton

May 2015 result C 1004/791 LD 482 UKIP 302
June 2013 by-election C 330 Ind 260 UKIP 130 Ind 24
May 2011 result 2 C unopposed
May 2007 result 2 C unopposed
May 2003 result Ind 582/567 C 379

Whissendine

Parliamentary constituency: Rutland and Melton

March 2016 by-election LD 265 C 109 UKIP 33
May 2015 result LD 511 C 265
Oct 2014 by-election LD 192 C 179
May 2011 result Ind 335 C 247
Nov 2008 by-election Ind 154 C 148 LD 71
May 2007 result C unopposed
May 2003 result C 285 Lab 186


St Helier

Merton council, South London; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Imran Uddin. Uddin, a solicitor who had served since 2014, was the Labour candidate for Wimbledon in last month’s general election; however, the day before polling day his legal practice was seized by the Solicitors Regulation Authority who are investigating allegations of dishonesty against him.

For our visit to London this week we make a return visit to the St Helier estate, one of several 1930s “cottage” housing estates built on garden-city principles by the London County Council. By 1936 40,000 people were living on what had previously been lavender fields between the village of Morden and the town of Carshalton. The estate straddles what is now the border between Merton and Sutton boroughs, and confusingly both boroughs have a St Helier ward; this is the Merton one. At the centre of this ward lies St Helier railway station, opened in 1930 to serve the estate on what is now the Sutton Loop line, while the northern end of the ward is better served by the London Underground’s southernmost station, Morden on the Northern Line. The name of the estate, incidentally, is in honour of the former London County Council alderman Baroness St Helier.

The demographics of St Helier ward bear all the usual London hallmarks of a diverse population, and also show high levels of social renting and long-term unemployment. This is, as you might expect from those statistics, a working-class area and a safe Labour ward. At the last London local elections in 2014 the Labour slate polled 59% of the vote here, with UKIP’s 20% best of the rest despite their candidate, Andre Lampitt, having been disowned by the party during the campaign for racist tweets. The ward went to the polls twice in May 2016: at the Mayor and Assembly elections; Sadiq Khan beat Zac Goldsmith in the ward’s ballot boxes 45-33, while the list votes split 48% for Labour, 23% for the Tories and 10% for UKIP (the ward breakdowns for the Mayor and Assembly elections don’t include postal votes, so these figures aren’t directly comparable with 2014). Two weeks later Labour very comfortably held a by-election in the ward, beating the Tories 71-14, a majority which is surely scandal-proof.

Defending this by-election for Labour is Kelly Braund, a solicitor (with no links to former councillor Uddin’s practice). The Tories have selected Geraldine Kirby, a former RAF medic who now runs the breast screening programme at King’s College hospital. Also standing are Bob Grahame for UKIP (it says something for UKIP’s organisation that their only candidate in this week’s nine by-elections is for the poll in London, UKIP’s weakest area), Geoff Cooper for the Lib Dems and Phillipa Maslin for the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Mitcham and Morden

May 2016 by-election Lab 1436 C 282 UKIP 191 LD 59 Grn 55
May 2014 result Lab 2010/1916/1673 UKIP 663 C 505/435/421 LD 203
May 2010 result Lab 2385/2206/2185 C 1373/1189/1161 LD 762 BNP 426/358
May 2006 result Lab 1347/1246/1196 C 974/931/778 BNP 599 Ind 583 LD 430
May 2002 result Lab 958/947/840 C 532/519/509 LD 324 BNP 302 Grn 192/178 UKIP 164

May 2016 GLA results (excludes postal voters)
Mayor: Lab 1222 C 907 UKIP 188 Grn 112 LD 94 Britain First 50 Respect 47 Women’s Equality 35 CISTA 32 Ind 26 BNP 23 One Love 7
List: Lab 1335 C 638 UKIP 286 Grn 134 LD 114 Women’s Equality 67 Britain First 63 Respect 45 CPA 33 BNP 26 Animal Welfare 23 House Party 10


Chiddingly and East Hoathly

Wealden council, East Sussex; caused by the disqualification of Conservative councillor Barby Dashwood-Morris, who failed to attend any council meetings in six months. Originally elected in 2007 as Barby Dashwood-Hall, in May she was fined £75,000 for making changes to the interior of her home, the Grade II-listed Priest House in Hellingly, without having obtained planning permission – all this while serving as chair of Wealden council’s planning committee and having the changes filmed for a never-broadcast Channel 4 property programme.

For our first by-election of the week in the South outside London, we are a particularly rural ward of East Sussex covering a series of villages off the A22 Eastbourne-Uckfield road. Despite the order of the names, the largest village within the ward is East Hoathly, about 15 miles north of Eastbourne, while Chiddingly is a more historic village which goes on the rapidly-growing list of locations built upon seven hills (see also Sheffield, Edinburgh etc.). The area was a centre of the Weald iron industry in days gone by, but is now a rural area with high self-employment levels and a relatively old age profile.

Dashwood-Morris had a safe seat: at her last re-election in 2015 she beat Labour 65-19. The local county council seat (Arlington, East Hoathly and Hellingly) is almost as safe, and that majority is surely scandal-proof.

Defending for the Conservatives is David Watts, a town councillor in Polegate some distance to the south of the ward who was Mayor of Polegate in 2016-17. Labour have selected Tony Fielding who fought the local county seat in May, and the ballot paper is completed by Lib Dem candidate Paul Holbrook.

Parliamentary constituency: Wealden
East Sussex county council division: Arlington, East Hoathly and Hellingly

May 2015 result C 1193 Lab 349 UKIP 306
May 2011 result C 865 LD 229 Lab 184
May 2007 result C 628 LD 321
May 2003 result C unopposed


New Romney

Shepway council, Kent; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Peter Simmons. He had served since 2011, serving for New Romney Coast ward until 2015 and New Romney ward since then; in late 2015 he had resigned from the Shepway council Conservative group over inappropriate expenses claims, but was subsequently readmitted after repaying some money to the council.

We finish the week as we started it, in an isolated market town in the middle of nowhere. Welcome to the main town on Romney Marsh, a sparsely-populated area of Kent sticking out into the English channel and best known for its sheep. New Romney is fourteen miles south-west of Folkestone, the nearest major centre, and it says something that one of its major links to the outside world is the miniature Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. The demographic profile is old with a large retired population.

The weather has always been, and probably always will be, a hot topic of conversation in Britain, and for decades now its political equivalent – climate change – has been one of the hottest political topics of the day. But the weather which hit the southern North Sea for three consecutive winters in the 1280s was so truly terrible it changed the course of geography and arguably history. First in January 1286 came a storm surge which hugely damaged the great East Anglian port of Dunwich; last in December 1287 was St Lucia’s flood, a storm surge which killed tens of thousands of people in what is now the Netherlands and northern Germany and created the Zuiderzee. In between was the southern England flood of February 1287, which was so violent it led to a wholesale redrawing of the coastline in what is now Kent and East Sussex. The city of Winchelsea and the port of Broomhill were completely destroyed, and the Cinque Port of New Romney, an important Channel port located at the mouth of the River Rother, almost cinq beneath mud, sand and other debris which was never completely cleared – pre-storm buildings, such as the town’s Norman church, are still accessed by steps down from street level. When the rain had stopped falling and the water had receded, the River Rother was gone – its course diverted to Rye – and the sea was more than a mile away, where it remains today. And that was the end of New Romney as a port.

Not even the Local Government Boundary Commission can redraw the map as radically as that, although they had a go in advance of the 2015 election in which Shepway district got a new and very different ward map. New Romney had previously been two wards: New Romney Coast, including the villages of Greatstone and Littlestone – named after former navigation markers in the Rother estuary – was Conservative in 2003, Lib Dem in 2007 and Conservative in 2011, while New Romney Town split its two seats Tory/Labour in 2003 but had been Conservative since then. The Boundary Commission merged Coast and Town wards into a single New Romney ward which at its only previous election, in 2015, split its two seats between the Conservatives and UKIP whose slates polled 29% each; independent candidate William Wimble – outgoing Conservative councillor for New Romney Town ward who had been deselected – polled 16% and Labour had 11%. However, it wasn’t all good news for UKIP as on the same day they lost a Kent county council by-election in the local division (Romney Marsh) which they were defending from the Conservatives, and the Tories consolidated their position in May’s county elections.

Defending for the Conservatives is Russell Tillson, who was their unsuccessful candidate here in 2015 and had served for eight years before then as councillor for the former Dymchurch and St Mary’s Bay ward. Surprisingly UKIP have not nominated a candidate, but former councillor Wimble, appearing on the ballot paper under his middle name of David, is trying again as an independent – he is now editor of a local newspaper, The Looker, and was third just behind UKIP in May’s county elections here. The Labour candidate is company director John Cramp, and the ballot paper is completed by former councillor Val Loseby (New Romney Coast ward, 2007-11) for the Liberal Democrats.

Parliamentary constituency: Folkestone and Hythe
Kent county council division: New Romney

May 2015 result C 1190/1114 UKIP 1172/971 Ind 668 Lab 451 LD 349 Grn 270