Post by matureleft on Apr 1, 2020 10:55:39 GMT
South Derbyshire was re-established in 1983 after abolition in the boundary changes of 1950. From 1983 until 1997 it comprised the district of South Derbyshire with the addition of the contiguous wards of Boulton and Chellaston on the southern edge of Derby City and the ward of Mickleover on its western edge. The growth of Mickleover spelled George Brown's eventual doom in the former Belper seat in 1970 and that ward has been generally heavily Conservative. The wards of Boulton and Chellaston were seen as roughly balancing each other – Boulton Labour and Chellaston Conservative.
For the 1997 election Mickleover was omitted, reflecting substantial population increase – in the 1992 election the electorate exceeded 83,000. The change certainly favoured Labour but the result, a 16 per cent Labour margin, reflected the combination of national and regional swings plus a particularly fatalistic Conservative non-campaign by the MP since 1983, Edwina Currie. The seat was held by Labour with declining, but still comfortable, majorities in the elections of 2001 and 2005.
In 2010 the boundaries changed radically, reflecting an acceleration in population growth, and both Derby wards were omitted. By then those wards had balanced toward Labour, at least in General Elections. This change, plus the influx of many new residents and the national and regional swing shifted the seat to the Conservatives, a position confirmed at every General Election since with an increasing proportion of the vote – 63% in 2019, making it seemingly safe. The population has continued to grow with the 2019 electorate just below 80,000. Future changes could either remove elements of the rural areas to the north-west of the constituency or essentially Derby suburbs – Stenson Fields, Boulton Moor and increasingly Findern (but in the latter two cases requiring the detachment of much larger wards)
Looking at the constituency in the early 1990s, the south formed part of the former South Derbyshire coalfield with Swadlincote and its necklace of then semi-detached villages Hartshorne, Woodville, Midway, Newhall, Church Gresley and Castle Gresley and, further out Linton and Overseal. The last pit in the constituency closed in 1988 and the last nearby in 1990. The coalfield communities formed the core Labour vote of George Brown's Belper seat, with many uncontested council seats well into the 1990s. Northwards lay more Conservative territory with villages like Ticknall and Repton (home to the public school featured in the Robert Donat version of Goodbye Mr Chips) and the small town of Melbourne (which sometimes returned Labour councillors on personal votes ). A string of villages along the Trent generally leaned Conservative with the Derby suburb of Stenson Fields leaning to Labour with a growing Sikh population, the only significant minority presence in the constituency. The rural area to the north-west was heavily Conservative with the exception of the village of Hatton, home to a large Nestle factory, being more balanced. The A38 and A50 cross the constituency with Toyota's huge UK assembly plant at their junction producing its first car in 1992. East Midlands Airport lay just outside the constituency and was developing air freight dominance. Two large power stations were still active.
Housing growth since then, almost entirely private and largely substantial family properties, has filled most of the spaces between between Swadlincote and its necklace villages. Hilton, a former military depot to the north-west, has become a vast village with one of the biggest primary schools in the country. Stenson Fields has also grown, to a lesser extent. And the suburbs of Derby have also sprawled into South Derbyshire in the north-east corner of the seat in Boulton Moor., outside Chellaston and north of Findern. Those moving into the area have often been drawn from the West Midlands, attracted by the improving road links, an attractive local environment and jobs at Toyota and in its supply chain, and at the airport. While local employment around Swadlincote has grown, many commute out of the area. East Midlands Airport has grown sharply for all forms of traffic and has large air freight handling operations. Toyota employs nearly 3000 people directly. Balancing this the power stations have closed and Rolls-Royce, a major employer in nearby Derby, has repeatedly cut its workforce.
The District Council swung to the Conservatives in 2007 and has been retained by them since then, although their grip was slightly reduced in the most recent elections in 2019. The area voted 60 per cent in favour of Brexit and the former Labour strongholds around Swadlincote appeared to support that disproportionately, with significant UKIP votes in all wards in 2015. For Labour to challenge in future a very different offer will be required. The historical roots of the Labour vote are now distant, although long-serving councillors with backgrounds in the coal industry continue to serve. House prices have been competitive and new residents are not particularly affluent but, one suspects, Blair's Labour offer was closer to their agenda than anything since.