We're back in the Midlands for this week's English by-elections and I'm not going to lie; they aren't exactly marginals! We have a couple from Scotland too though so look out for Kristofer Keane's article on them later this evening. First, here's Andrew Teale's preview of the elections in Leicestershire and East Staffordshire. TH
Syston Ridgeway, Leicestershire County Council; caused by the death of Conservative Councillor Mike Preston.
Located six miles north-east of Leicester on the Fosse Way and the road to Melton is the town of Syston. These days it's a commuter town for the city of Leicester, with Syston station having hourly trains to Leicester and Nottingham on the so-called Ivanhoe Line, and its politics basically reflects that. This county division combines the eastern half of the town with the even richer villages of Queniborough and Rearsby to the north and a rural area to the east as far as South Croxton. Only one of the division's six-and-a-half census areas (in central Syston) is within England's most deprived 40%, while two-and-a-half (Queniborough, Rearsby and another part of Syston) are in the least deprived 20%.
In 2009 there was a large Conservative majority with the British National Party finishing a rather distant second with 19% of the vote. The BNP have performed well in this part of Leicestershire over the last few years and in May they held their seat in East Goscote ward of Charnwood council (one of only two seats the BNP won in May). East Goscote ward borders this county division and the BNP councillor is standing in this by-election against the three main parties.
Syston Ridgeway (Lei'shire)
Stephen Hampson (Con)
Cathy Duffy (BNP)
Richard Miller (LD)
Colin Lovell (Lab)
Yoxall, East Staffordshire; caused by the resignation of a Conservative councillor who "wants to spend more time on his farm" - he was elected for the first time in May so perhaps decided that being a local councillor wasn't for him.
East Staffordshire is a starkly divided local government district, with the usually-Labour brewing town of Burton-upon-Trent normally outvoted by the Tory town of Uttoxeter and the rural area of which this ward is a part. It consists of several villages on or just off the A515 Lichfield-Ashbourne road, with Yoxall itself at the south end, Newborough at the north end and Hoar Cross in between.
May's result was an easy victory for the Conservatives, although from Labour's point of view is an improvement on the 87%/13% drubbing they got in 2007. The by-election is another straight Con/Lab fight.
Yoxall (E. Staffs)
Beryl Behague (Con)
John McKiernan (Lab)