At the last election few parties bothered to contest the Tories dominance of certain wards in Westminster which they considered unwinnable. In 2010 Labour did not field any candidates for Marylebone High Street, the Lib-Dems only put two candidates forward, and the Greens only put up one candidate. The three seats were easily won by Conservatives Harvey Marshall, Ian Rowley, and Edward Baxter.
But next Thursday’s by-election will see Labour, the Lib-Dems, UKIP, The Greens and an independent try to prise a single seat away from the Tories who have held the ward since it was created after the last boundary change in 1999. It is not since the Homes for Votes scandal of the late 1980s that so much attention has been focussed on these streets.
Previously the Cavendish ward covered part of today’s West End and Marylebone High Street ward and it was in the mid-1980s a Conservative marginal ward. In 1986 The Conservatives only held onto control of Westminster Council by 106 votes after Labour failed to gain the marginal Cavendish Ward which was needed to give Labour the majority to take control of the council.
The Conservative candidate Iain Bott is likely to win the seat in next Thursday’s vote, but a combination of the coalition government’s austerity measures, rows over Europe, and locally the temporary closure of public toilets in Paddington Gardens run by the company of Tory donor Lord Ashcroft could stream warm, unpleasant-smelling water on his plans.
The All Souls Clubhouse in Cleveland Street are holding a hustings for the Marylebone High Street Ward By-Election at 7pm on Tuesday 30 April and have invited all six candidates. It will be an opportunity for voters to meet the candidates and ask them questions.
David Kennett manager of the Clubhouse told Fitzrovia News: “We are holding this hustings because we feel it is important to for residents to have the opportunity to ask all the candidates about what they will do for the community and how they will represent this community”.
The candidates are: Iain Bott (Conservative); Jeremy Hill (Liberal Democrats); Paul Mercieca (UK Independence Party); Yael Saunders (Fighting for Spaces for People); Nik Slingsby (Labour Party); Hugh Small (Green Party). The Westminster Chronicle has pictures and details on all six candidates, and there is also coverage of some of the candidates and links to manifestos at Marylebone London.
An Election Hustings Event will be held at 7pm to 8.30pm on Tuesday 30 April in the Upper Room at The All Souls Clubhouse 141 Cleveland Street London W1T 6QG.