Dormers Wells ward is in the Ealing Southall constituency in the south west of the London Borough of Ealing. The most common view over it for the outsider is of a stretch of parkland to the north side of the main railway line out of Paddington as it crosses a long viaduct near Ealing Hospital. The west of the ward itself is emphatically a residential part of Southall town, nearly touching Southall Broadway, while the north end shades into Greenford as far as the open space of Greenford Park. The eastern boundary follows the River Brent, which is distanced from the residential areas by a golf course and a larger area of open space that Ealing council designated the Brent Valley Park in 1976. Dormer’s Wells itself is near the geographical centre of the ward, a corner by a stream that flows into the Brent.
The social characteristics of the ward reflect its position at the interface of Southall, long famous as one of the centres of Britain’s South Asian community, and Greenford, a neighbourhood that has changed from being white working class – with some Polish influence – to ethnically mixed in the last couple of decades. The ward’s population is majority Asian (mostly Sikh and Hindu) and 82 per cent BAME, a little less than in nearby wards like Southall Green and Southall Broadway, but a high proportion by most measures. Dormers Wells is a more settled community than many, with owner occupation being the main mode of housing along with a significant element of social housing (mostly at the Greenford end).
Politics in Dormers Wells can be read across from its social and ethnic composition. It has been a solid Labour ward for decades, with a Conservative share that was once sustainable at around 30 per cent but which has tended to wither over time. Labour has not suffered as much from defections or Independent challenges as the wards in central Southall, nor from the occasionally wild swings to the Tories that have happened in Greenford and north Ealing. The Labour team in the ward has in the past included Virendra Sharma (now the MP for Ealing, Southall) and long-serving councillor and mayor of Ealing in 2014 Tej Ram Bagha, whose death in September brought about the by-election held yesterday.
Labour’s replacement candidate was Mohinda Kaur Midha, formerly councillor for neighbouring Lady Margaret ward. It was no surprise that she held the seat for her party by a landslide margin, with a very similar disposition of votes to that in the full borough elections in May. For those keeping score, there was a swing of just over one per cent from Conservative to Labour. Turnout was a poor but not disastrous 26 per cent. Ealing Labour has had a succession of strong election results in recent years, and this was yet another example in a borough that has gone from being a suburban marginal to a Labour stronghold.