In the third of our monthly local government by-election reports, there have been a number of important polls around the country during October.
In Haringey Labour comfortably held a seat in St Anne’s ward with 64% of the vote and the Lib Dems, who were pushing Labour for control of the borough a few years ago, a distant third behind the Greens, on only 10%.
In Hartlepool on 6th October UKIP took a seat from Labour in a ward split between the two parties. UKIP are the main opposition with 6 councillors but Labour retained control with 19 out of the 33 elected members. This is perhaps evidence of some movement in UKIP’s progress at local level in the north of England.
In Lewisham, Labour easily held their seat in Evelyn ward but also comfortably beat the Greens in Brockley. Lewisham is almost a one party state with the sole opposition councillor being a Green in Brockley, so for Labour to win this by-election with 48% of the vote is a strong showing in the borough.
In Tandridge the Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group took a second seat from the Conservatives on 13th October to join the seat they took from the Council Leader in May. While the Conservatives still retain a healthy majority in Tandridge, to have lost a second seat to the Residents on the issue of local development, in an area they should be winning comfortably, will concern them. Fortunately there are no regular elections scheduled for the district until 2018.
In Poole the Conservatives lost a seat to the Lib Dems in Broadstone ward. This is a split ward between the two parties but the Lib Dems managed to poll 69.5%, which was up from 41% the last time the seat was fought. Conservatives retain a good majority of 18 seats on the Council but will be concerned at such a swing in the Lib Dems favour. In the East Riding of Yorkshire there was another striking Lib Dem success when they took a seat in a previously safe Conservative ward by increasing their own vote from 10% in 2015 to 40%.
Interesting by elections coming up include a marginal ward in Eastleigh on 3rd November, where the Lib Dems are defending a 57 vote majority over the Conservatives from 2015 when UKIP also got 1000 votes. In Reigate and Banstead there is, what should be, a safe Conservative ward at Kingswood, with Burgh Heath as the Lib Dems and residents are not standing candidates.
On 10th November Greenwich has a by election in Eltham North, which is a split ward from 2014 of two Labour and one Conservative, so will be hotly contested between the two parties. In Wandsworth the Queenstown ward will have the same battle as it was spilt in 2014 to two Conservative and one Labour. In both wards Labour are the defending party.
On 24th November the Lib Dems defend a seat in the Valley ward of Caterham in Tandridge having only beaten the Conservatives by 24 votes in 2015. The election would have added interest if the Caterham and Chaldon Residents Association (RA) fields a candidate, on the back of the RA in Oxted and Limpsfield recently taking two seats at by-elections (albeit from the Conservatives rather than Lib Dems).
In the pending lists for upcoming by elections, Broxbourne have an election in Waltham Cross being defended by Labour but that they only won in May 2016 by 240 votes from the Conservatives. With Labour’s fortunes struggling this could be a possible loss. Also still pending is Cranleigh West in Waverley, where the Conservatives are defending the seat against a backdrop of local unrest over the Council’s development plans for the area. In West Oxfordshire the Conservatives are defending a seat that they narrowly held against independents in Hailey, Minster Lovell and Leafield having only won by 50 votes in May.