Tuesday, 26 November 2013

By-Elections Expected Following Untimely Death of Councillor

Two By-Elections are expected to be called to fill a vacancy in the Scotter Rural Division of Lincolnshire County Council and the  Scotter Ward of West Lindsey District Council following the untimely death of Cllr. Chris Underwood-Frost, Conservative (Scotter Rural Division, Scotter Ward), whose battle with cancer is now concluded.

Cllr. Underwood-Frost was first elected to West Lindsey District Council in 1999 and was subsequently re-elected in 2003, 2007 and 2011. At the 2007 local elections he was re-elected to his seat when, tied with the Liberal Democrat candidate, both having received 781 votes, the peculiarities of the electoral system came into play and Cllr. Underwood-Frost secured re-election by virtue of a coin-toss.

In 2001 he was successful during the local elections to Lincolnshire County Council in gaining the seat for the Scotter Rural Division, securing re-election in 2005, 2009 and, most recently, in 2013.

Since the boundary changes and all-out elections of 1999 to West Lindsey District Council both the ward and the division have been consistently won by the Conservatives over the last decade, both of seats came under pressure from the Liberal Democrats around the middle of the last decade. The Conservative majority was only 131 votes in the Scotter Ward in 2004 before being determined by a coin toss at the following district election. Only 170 votes in the Scotter Rural Division in 2005, after coming so close, the Liberal Democrat challenge has since faded away; the second place spot at the most recent district election in the Scotter Ward, in 2011, was taken by an Independent, while the UK Independence Party were second here in the recent County Council election.

The defending Conservative candidate for the County Division is Sturton-by-Stow resident Richard Butroid, who is a Health and Safety Specialist and who has represented Lincolnshire at clay pigeon shooting. District Councillors Lesley Rollings, Liberal Democrat (Thonock Ward), from Pilham, will make her third attempt to secure the County Council seat; whilst Cllr. Chris Darcel, Independent (Fiskerton Ward), will make a first outing for the Lincolnshire Independents into this area. Finally the UK Independence Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln, Nick Smith, will hope to replicate, and improve upon the party successful second place earlier in the year.
Above: (Left to Right) Sir Edward Leigh with Conservative
Candidates Richard Butroid and John Cox on Scotter Green

In the Scotter Ward by-election John Cox, also from Sturton-by-Stow, will defend for the Conservatives. His opposition will come from the Chairman of Scotter Parish Council, Chris Day, Independent; Barry Coward, from Gainsborough, and local party Chairman of the Liberal Democrats; and the UK Independence Party's Dr. Howard Thompson, from Claxby near Market Rasen.

The Conservatives will have hopes of retaining both seats, although supplying candidates who live some distance from the area they will eventually represent may present an additional hurdle. The Liberal Democrats, locally, have always coveted this seat and will through everything they have at it, in an attempt to show that their electoral demise, since joining the coalition government in 2010 has been greatly exaggerated. Labour have failed to field even a county council candidate, which they have done in 2009 and May 2013, suggesting that the party in the constituency is in very poor shape. The UK Independence Party has been rife with internal disagreements since their success in electing a number of councillors to the county council earlier in the year; to the extent that their group has split in to two groups, whether this has impacted on the party's brand remains to be seen. The Lincolnshire Independents have no hope of winning here. If they get 200 votes they will be having a good night. Expect them to come in fourth place.