Post by nn2019 on Apr 26, 2020 12:55:25 GMT
This parliamentary constituency was revived for the 2010 General Election, but existed albeit in a different guise from 1885-1918 and 1950-1983. The 27 year period without it's existence, it was known as Woodspring which was also the name of the now current unitary authority North Somerset. Confusing much?
The constituency has three fairly large towns that supply a core of the population. The first is Clevedon on the coast and in the West of the constituency, known for it's Victorian Pier and had a few known ITV Dramas filmed here such as “Broadchurch” and the not so popular “Sanditon” which barely anybody watched. Portishead which is North of Clevedon and on the Severn Estuary that was once a famous fishing port and is now an area that has had a lot of new build housing and serves a purpose really as a “dormitory town” for Bristol. The other large town is Nailsea which unlike the other two is more inland that has a history of being a former industrial centre based on glass manufacture and coal mining.
The constituency is mainly a rural constituency as the three towns mentioned are rather dispersed. On the border of Bristol where the constituency begins, you have Long Ashton which again is another commuter village that does have a mix of owner-occupier and some social housing. The famous Ashton Court estate is in this ward, and has is a popular tourism point and has been featured on the “Antiques Roadshow” television programme. Heading west, you've the villages of Abbots Leigh and Pill which make up the Pill ward on the local council. Abbots Leigh has a campus of The University of West of England within it's village, and Pill again another commuter village has a quite a lot of social housing in the area managed by Alliance Homes. The now defunct Ham Green Hospital was a part of this area and is now the Penny Brohn Hospice. Neighbouring to Pill in it's West are Easton-in-Gordano, Portbury known for it's docks and now becoming a hub of industry which does border into the Shirehampton area of Bristol.
Heading southwards from Long Ashton, you have the commuter village of Backwell that has the famous Backwell House that is a popular venue for weddings and now a hotel. Buckland's Pool or Backwell Lake is another point of interest in the village and recently made the local press in 2018 due to a proposed house building scheme in the area. There is also Flax Bourton which is famous for “The Jubilee Inn” public house, Barrow Gurney to the east and Winford.
The constituency is home to Bristol Airport which is based on the outskirts of Wrington village. The airport has been a hot topic lately due to it's proposed expansion which has been met with opposition by the local council and many residents in the area.
One other major village that is in the south of the constituency is Yatton known for it's famous railway station and Claverham a former farming hamlet. The Strawberry Line which got it's name through the high volume of local grown strawberries in the area runs through Yatton all the way to Cheddar and it is possible to cycle the route.
North Somerset is a fairly affluent constituency, with only Pill ward the only North Somerset area that makes the top ten deprived wards in the local authority (the rest is mainly Weston-super-Mare wards). There's a high number of owner-occupiers in the constituency and most workers do commute to Bristol or Bath to work. There is a farming industry, and Portbury Docks is starting to thrive with industries making home in the area. Bristol Airport is a very popular employer in the constituency.
It has always been a Conservative constituency and since 1992 Liam Fox has been the local MP. Dr Fox did pick up his highest majority in 2015 of 23,099 due to a split opposition vote, but this is a definition of a safe Conservative seat and love or hate the man, he seems to be a very popular local MP in the area.
Second position has alternated between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats did dent Fox's majority in 2005 to 6,016 but since then as following the uniform pattern across most of the country, their vote has slipped away. In 2015 they fell to fourth place and in 2017 despite moving up a place to third, only picked up 9.6% of the vote. Labour have become the second placed party since 2015, helped by a split opposition vote in that election and getting their best share of the vote since the October 1974 election in 2017. They held on to second in the recent election in 2019, but the vote share declined and a strong campaign by the Liberal Democrats has now opened the race up again for second.
As for minor parties performance, UKIP came third with 13% of the vote in 2015 helped by that split in the vote. The Independent councillor for Pill and now leader of North Somerset District Council Don Davies stood in 2017 and polled a respectable 6.3% no doubt helped by his local constituents and those unhappy with the mainstream parties. The Green party are a regular fixture in General Elections and have managed to have a steady vote share reaching a peak of 6.5% in 2015.
Locally, and one thing that was picked up on during the 2019 local elections in the district, was the high amount of Independent councillors elected. Portishead in particular bar one seat is now controlled by the Portishead Independents. This was set up due to the complacency of Conservative councillors and opposition to a lot of development in the area which has threatened small local businesses and pricing locals out of the property market. Another reason behind their success was a lack of transparency from the old Conservative administration. Portishead Independents do control Portishead Town Council and do engage their electorate on a lot of view points.
Pill used to be a Labour seat up until 2006, but has been under Independent control since. The local councillor for the area was actually a Labour member but resigned in the 1990s, but is described as a left-wing environmentalist and is a very popular local figure. Nailsea are another area that return Independents but have been under Conservative or Lib Dem control for a lot of it's local electoral history.
The only Labour presence within the constituency is a local councillor in Clevedon Yeo and we do have a number of town councillors in the town, most were elected unopposed. There have been Labour councillors in some of the Clevedon seats in the past, but a lot were voted out in 2007. Sadly Labour didn't stand in all seats, and the vote share within the wards they did participate in was fairly low. Long Ashton which was a top target for Labourbut their vote declined by 10% despite a good campaign. The Conservatives find themselves lonely here on the District council too as their only seat they retained in the constituency was former council leader Nigel Ashton in Easton-in-Gordano. The majority of these seats they lost have mostly been Conservative run in the past.
The Liberal Democrats have councillors spread across the constituency in Yatton, Clevedon, Long Ashton and one of the Portishead seats which was not contest by their local Independents. The Greens gained councillors in Long Ashton and Backwell, mainly because of a strong campaign and a few local issues that swung in their favour.