As with my overview of the (at that time) forthcoming elections last April, I decided it would be fun to follow (as far as possible) the old district and borough boundaries.
The last time that local council elections took place in the now defunct (as of 2009) Caradon District Council, these were the results:
Party Votes Percent Seats
Liberal Democrat 11167 37.8% 23
Conservative 10062 34.0% 9
Independent 5413 18.3% 9
Mebyon Kernow 939 3.2% 1
UKIP 860 2.9% 0
Labour 825 2.8% 0
Green Party 294 1.0% 0
The Liberal Democrats had a very good election in 2007 and stood for every seat in the 22 wards. The Conservatives stood in every ward, but only had 36 candidates (a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-member wards). Despite polling well, they did not manage their vote as well as the Liberal Democrats.
Their were 16 assorted Independent candidates in 12 wards, and 9 victories for the various candidates was pretty good.
Mebyon Kernow only won 1 seat (Andrew Long in Callington) and fought only 2 in total.
UKIP fielded seven candidates in 6 wards, by far their best result being in Menheniot and St.Ive where Stephanie McWilliam took 18.3% of the vote (pointing to her future success in 2013).
Labour only had a candidate in Calstock where the late Thomas Smale took 30.2% of the vote and lost his seat by 57 votes.
The Green Party only stood a candidate in Landrake and St. Dominick, taking 19.5% of the vote.
In 2009, the Unitary Council replaced the County and District/Borough Councils and the results for what would have been the old district were:
Party Votes Percent Seats
Conservative 11436 40.4% 9
Liberal Democrat 9898 35.0% 9
UKIP 2701 9.5% 0
Independent 2206 7.8% 1
Mebyon Kernow 1253 4.4% 1
Green Party 708 2.5% 0
BNP 115 0.4% 0
Something of a disappointment for the Liberal Democrats to slip behind the Tories in vote share but winning pretty much where they would expect to.
For the Conservatives, a great result in taking 9 divisions. Winning the plurality of votes was excellent for them.
UKIP made good progress in the 9 divisions in which they stood, better than UKIP did countrywide.
There were only 6 Independent candidates standing in 5 divisions, one of whom was Dorothy Kirk in Gunnislake who was, in reality, the Labour candidate. The only victor was in Saltash Pill where Derek Hooley won the day.
Coming to the 2013 Unitary Elections.
Party Votes Percent Seats
Liberal Democrat 7372 30.2% 7
Conservative 6463 26.5% 4
UKIP 5171 21.2% 1
Independent 3920 16.1% 6
Mebyon Kernow-PC 851 3.5% 1
Labour Party 477 2.0% 1
Green Party 140 0.6% 0
A mixed result for the Liberal Democrats here as, although they have 2 less councillors than in the old Divisions from 2009, they retained most of their vote share, much more difficult when facing a stronger challenge from Independent candidates who hardly figured at the last Unitary Elections. They suffered some appalling collapses in vote share in some of the divisions (Callington, Looe East, Saltash East, Torpoint West) but topped the poll and had the most seats.Nonetheless, continuing to slip back in vote share is a worry for them.
On a reduced turnout across the district, the real losers were the Conservatives, who saw a big drop in their share of the vote from 44.4% to 26.5% and slipping to second place in terms of votes cast. They appear to have been particularly hit by sitting councillors having defected and standing under new labels and by the strong vote for UKIP and Independent candidates.
For UKIP, this was a good election, with the increase in their vote share only being partly explained by having fifteen candidates this time, as opposed to nine last. Coming third with 21.1% of the vote is a solid advance and they will be very disappointed to have only gained one seat, but in the formidable form of Stephanie McWilliam, now the UKIP group leader on the council. They came very close in Rame Peninsular, just 12 votes from the Independent in a close third place and were only 41 votes behind the Conservative victor in St Germans and Landulph, and 99 behind in Menheniot.
The Independent candidates did very well, given that they are not so dominant in this area, taking 5 more divisions than in 2009. It helped that two sitting councillors had defected from the Tories and Councillor Armand Toms in Looe East brought a big chunk of votes with him. More unexpected was the victory of 'off again/on again' candidate George Trubody who, having quit as a Conservative councillor, returned and was elected (by 3 votes) as an Independent. There were other impressive victories (see below) and, given that they only stood in 10 divisions, there were some very well executed personal campaigns on what was only a 16.5% share of the old district-wide vote.
Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall (as they are now named), stood in two wards and won a safe victory in Callington. Only fielding 2 candidates this time (the other in St Dominick, Harrowbarrow and Kelly Bray division), they improved their vote share from last time when they fielded 4 candidates.
Labour only stood in one division, Gunnislake and Calstock, and gained it which, given the history of the palae, should have been expected. Labour had no candidates in 2009 but Labour's victorious Dorothy Kirk had stood as an Independent in the old Gunnislake division and come second (I assume there was a registration error given her long Labour pedigree). One could argue that they had a 100% success rate but, given the level of poverty and low wages in the area, they should really be fighting in more places.
For the Green Party, two candidates with no real success.
As predicted, this was an easy hold for MK-PC Councillor Andrew Long over the second-placed UKIP challenger, Dave Williams. UKIP's 27.4% is a good result for them and is no doubt due to the party's high-profile campaign and visit by UKIP's leader, Nigel Farage.
For the Conservative's Sue Nicholson, it was little short of a disaster with their vote share falling by two thirds since 2009 and coming in third with only 9.1% of the poll.
The Lib Dem's flag-bearer, Muriel Merrett-Jones, saw her party's vote collapse to a miserable 2.9%.
Gunnislake and Calstock
I am pleased with myself with this Division, correctly predicting a narrow win for Labour's Dorothy Kirk. Defending Conservative Councillor Russell Barlett had taking the Division in 2009 with less than 30% of the vote and it is not the most obvious Conservative area. As it turned out, he could only manage 30.1% of the poll this time and that was never going to be enough.
Cllr Kirk had been second as an Independent in 2009, which I assume was due to a mistake in the nomination papers and is a well-known Labour activist; her 34.4% is almost double what she managed in 2009.
UKIP's Sam Gardner will be disappointed not to have increased his vote by more since 2009 but he did claim third place from the Liberal Democrat's Martin Emery. Labour only contested this Division in the old Caradon area. All in all, a satisfactory result for Labour.
I predicted a Lib Dem hold here but speculated that Independent Sally Hawken might eat into their vote. Well, she did more than that and gained the seat with a 51 vote majority and pushing the hapless Lib Dem, Tony Powell, into second place. I had wondered why the youthful sitting Lib Dem Councillor Jay Schofield had decided not to stand again; he might have known this was coming.
The Conservatives had a very disappointing result with only 14.5% of the vote and a dismal 4th place, not helped by the intervention of UKIP's Oliver Challis who took 23.5% of the vote.
This was a strange one with the defending councillor, Jan Powell, having defected from Conservative to Liberal Democrat and her main challenger from 2009, Mebyon Kernow's Roger Holmes, now standing as an Independent. I predicted that it could be close but that Ms Powell would hold on and be a technical Lib Dem gain. Well, it was close, but Mr Holmes won by 6 votes over Ms Powell. Indeed, there were only 41 votes between Mr Holmes and the 4th placed UKIP challenger, Jenifer Lucas, who was pushed out of third place by 5 votes by the Tory standard bearer, Thusha Balalojanan.
Liskeard West and Dobwalls
I predicted an easy hold here for sitting Councillor Michael George, and so it proved, with him reaping 68% of the vote over UKIP's Patricia Kareen Mary Marris and achieving a comfortable 421 majority. Nothing to see here is the best reflection on this result.
This beautiful division was being defended by the long-time Conservative councillor Armand Toms who defected to the Independent group on the Authrity just 2 months before the election. A Cabinet Member, it might have been thought that Cllr Toms might suffer from local dissatisfaction with the administration, but he easily held this Division with 58.6% of the vote. I predicted he would win but thought he might suffer some more vote slippage so congratualtions to him. The Conservatives hopes of reclaiming this division rested on the shoulders of financial advisor James Gowing who managed only 19.2% of the vote although he had the small comfort of being in (a distant) second place.
UKIP's Les Richmond might have hoped to do better than the 15.6% and third place he achieved. It seems, as with many seats where UKIP has some history of standing, they did somewhat worse than where they hadn't stood before.
Rick Harmes of the Greens won't have been shouting from the rooftops about his 4th place and 4% of the poll, but he will be happier than the dismal placing achieved by the Liberal Democrat's Sandra Preston, whose vote seems to have gone to Cllr Toms under his new Independent flag - 2.6% is pretty awful.
Looe West, Lansallos and Lanteglos
This repeat, in terms of candidates and parties, of the 2009 election was always likely to be a somewhat safer hold for defending councillor, Lib Dem Edwina Hanniford, and so it proved with her garnering 51% of the vote and a majority of 440 over the Conservative's Brian Galipeau. It couldn't be a more different picture from Looe East for the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Gallipeau saw his vote share fall by 12.3% whilst Cllr Hanniford saw her's rise by 9.3%, a 10.8% swing - one of the few occasions in this election when one can look at a straightforward swing between parties.
The 'other' in this election was UKIP's Tony Winter, who will be disppointed to have remained in third place and only raised the vote share 3% to 21.3%
I predicted that this would be a UKIP gain for the redoubtable Stephanie McWilliam in a very divided field, and so it proved. Ms McWilliam achieved 35% of the vote and a comfortable-ish majority of 78 over the second-placed Conservative candidate, Finbar Heeley, who managed a respectable 29.2% of the vote. Christine Hordley for the Lib Dems must be very disappointed to have been just pushed into third place by three votes whilst Independent Alan Neal never really had a chance of a look in in this election.
Not surprising to note that Cllr McWilliam is the UKIP Group leader on the Council.
I incorrectly predicted a UKIP gain here as I believed that the growth in UKIP would build on the strong performance for 2009 but, as is the case in many areas, where UKIP have been previously quite strong, the swing to them was disappointing (from their point of view) at this set of elections.
Sitting councillor Bernie Ellis held on with a much reduced majority of 99 over UKIP's David Clue. The Conservative vote share was reduced by 9.6% to 38% but this was enough. I believed that this was UKIP's best hope of a gain and I cannot see anything but disappointment for Mr Clue in this result, even though he managed to snatch 2nd place and 31.2% of the vote a rise of 6.5%.
Charles Boney will be relieved that the Lib Dem share of the vote held up quite well although he might have hoped to slip through the middle but instead saw his party slip into third place.
For the Greens, Richard Sedgeley had to settle with a distant last place and 6.4% of the vote.
I predicted that this might be very close and I was right, but also wrong as I thought that the Lib Dem's Becky Lingard might take this seat. This was a weird election as the former Conservative councillor, George Trubody, resigned on the 25th January 2013 to "pursue a personal career opportunity", leaving the area unrepresented until the May elections. Well, Mr Trubody returned as an Independent candidate and, showing how forgiving the local voters are, he held his seat by only 3 votes over local farmer and Conservative candidate, Chris Wilton.
I surmised that a good result for the UKIP candidate Peter McLaren would be to double the vote share which, in a split vote, might see him close to victory. I wasn't far off there either as he came within 12 votes of Mr Trubody.
It was the the unfortunate Ms Lingard who was the distant also-ran on only 16.4% of the vote - 12.6% less than the Lib Dems got last time. She should have stayed an Independent as she was the main challenger under that flag in 2009.
Successfully defending this Division, Liberal Democrat Councillor Derris Watson will be relieved that a divided opposition makes her victory seem fairly comfortable at 115 votes despite slipping to 32.2%. UKIP's David Lucas will be disappointed to have failed to capitalise on the fall in the Lib Dem and Conservative votes as, despite taking second place, he only managed to slightly increase the vote from 2009 to 24.2%. This pattern of UKIP not doing as well as one would think in seats they have done well before is somewhat suprising but shows that where they are not a novelty, they are less likely to attract votes. The fly in the ointment was Independent challenger, Len Clark, who came within 7 votes of UKIP to take a creditable 23.7% of the vote, reflecting a strong tradition of votes for Independent candidates in this area.
St Cleer has continued to move away from the Conservatives with this result, with their candidate Lisa Sargeant slipping into fourth place with 20% of the vote.
I am fairly satisfied with my predictions with this result, I thought that UKIP might have been a bit closer though.
St Dominick, Harrowbarrow and Kelly Bray
A tough battle here saw Conservative Jim Flashman manage to safely hold the Division against a strong challenge by UKIP's Dave Lawson, who must be disappointed not to have managed to close the gap more on Cllr Flashman from a strong base in the old Kelly Bray division in 2009.
Equally disappointed will have been MK-PC's Maria Coakley, who might have assumed that she would have got better than 10.5%, although she managed to push the Lib Dem's Charles Merrett Jones into a very disappointing 4th place by just 1 vote. They must have been affected by the challenge of Independent Phillip Harriman who split the parties with a 3rd placed 15.4% of the poll.
The result was pretty much as I predicted but I thought that UKIP might have had a stronger voter share behind Mr Flashman.
St Germans and Landulph
I saw this as being a three-way split and a very close contest but, assuming as in several other predictions that the Lib Dem recovery from 2009 would be stronger in what used to be a bit of a banker for them, just gave it to their candidate, Jesse Foot. In the event, the Conservative's Daniel Pugh held the seat on a much reduced vote share of 31.5%.
UKIP have a strong electoral history in this area (they took 28% of the vote in the old Caradon district ward of St Germans in 2003) and their candidate Joseph Cummins might have hoped to snatch the seat, but they failed by 41 votes, managing to garner 28.4% of the poll. In the event, Mr Foot came in a close third with a poll share of 27.4%, just 55 votes from victory.
Mervyn Ellis's Independent run achieved a last place with 12.7%, which may well have robbed Mr Foot (or, possibly, Mr Cummins) of victory if he picked up the strong Green vote of 2009.
An absolute slamdunk of a victory for defending Independent councillor Derek Holley, who took 80.5% of the vote and a 731 majority over the Conservative's David Ward who managed only 12.9%. A huge swing in the order of 26.7% from Tories to Cllr Holley.
The Liberal Democrats were crushed under Mr Holley's steamroller seeing a big drop in their vote share with their candidate, James Shepherd, only managing 6.7%.
I predicted Mr Holley would win, never expected him to do this well.
I predicted that this would be a Lib Dem hold for their candidate, Denise Watkins, but that the high-profile local Independent Joe Ellison would run her close. I was wrong, he ran her over.
With 45.6% of the vote, Mr Ellison pulled off a good victory with a majority of 102. I hadn't realised that the new councillor formerly ran in a neighbouring Division as a Conservative candidate so he is no neophyte when it comes to party campaigning.
A very disappointing result for Ms Watkins with 33.1% of the vote.
Bringing up the rear, Independent candidate John Joseph Brady achieved a respectable 21.3%
As I predicted, an easy victory here for the Liberal Democrat's Hilary Frank in a straight fight with Beryl Rosekilly for the Conservatives. Taking 70.3% of the vote, Ms Frank has one of the more encouraging results which have eluded the Liberal Democrats in much of the old Caradon council area. I am sure her 396 majority will keep her warm at night.
Very like the result in Saltash South, in a straight fight with the Tories, the Lib Dems have done very well here. Defending councillor Bob Austin took 62.5% of the vote and has a majority of 251 over the Conservative candidate, Gloria Challen.
It was always going to be interesting to see who would suffer most from the intervention of the UKIP candidacy of Rob White, and it was certainly more painful for Conservative John Drago whose vote share fell by almost 15%, but defending Lib Dem Councillor Brian Hobbs also saw his vote fall by around 11%, revealing that UKIP can eat into Liberal Democrat support as well. As I opined at the time, defence cuts might well have played a part in UKIP's aupport as the only non-Coalition party standing in an area with a strong Naval connection.
I never saw the Lib Dem's losing here but they will have some food for thought.
Well, no excuses here, the Lib Dem's were blown out of the water by sitting Councillor Michael Pearn, who, on a much reduced poll turnout, had a swing 20.1% from the Liberal Democrats. I can only assume that the Liberal Democrats did just about no campaigning in this Division and much of their vote stayed at home as well as some switching across to Cllr Pearn. Given that the Lib Dem candidate, Adam Killeya, is an Oxford graduate in Politics and Philosophy and Head of Politics at the interestingly-named Saltash.net Community School, an Academy Trust comprehensive school, he must only just be getting over the ribbing from his pupils and colleagues.
Cllr Pearn was always going to win, but this was stellar.
Losing the old Pelynt division had been a real blow to the Liberal Democrats in what was a tough electoral cycle in 2009, so gaining it was a must. As predicted, former county councillor Jim Candy comfortably regained this seat from Conservative Peter Hunt by 43.4% to 32.1%, and as the Division is the same except in name we are able to calculate a straight Tory to Lib Dem swing of 10.4%, a comfortable swing much exacerbated by the growth in the UKIP vote from 14.4% to 24.5%, which appears to have eaten heavily into the former Cllr Hunt's vote.
This is one of the Lib Dem's better results in what was a pretty disappointing set of results in this part of east Cornwall.