Local Government By-Election Report – March 2017
On the 2nd March the Conservatives managed to take a seat from Labour in Salford. Labour collapsed by 21.5% but given they hold 51 of 61 seats the loss of the marginal ward is not of immediate concern to the Administration.
In the two Redcar and Cleveland by-elections, Labour had a chance to gain majority control if they could snatch both seats from the Conservatives and Lib Dems. As it turned out both incumbent parties easily held their seats with Labour going backwards in both by losing vote share (in the Hutton ward they collapsed 15% into third place).
In the Roxbourne ward in Harrow, Labour held the seat they were defending and did so comfortably by increasing their vote share by 10.8%, whilst the Conservatives remained static. On the same day in Waltham Cross they lost their seat to the Conservatives in a ward where they had previously held all three seats. Possibly the decline in Labour nation-wide has yet to hit London where they remain stronger than the rest of the country.
In Derby City, the four way marginal being defended by UKIP saw a Conservative surge from 9% vote share in 2014 and the vote parity with Labour in 2016 to comfortably taking the seat on 9th March with a 28% increase compared to when the deceased UKIP Cllr had been elected in 2014. The loss sees UKIP reduced to two Councillors and Labour retaining its one seat majority in the City.
It was not all good news for the Conservatives as a ward they should have held in West Oxfordshire fell victim to the Lib Dem resurgence when they went from third to first with a 34% increase in their vote. The Conservatives at least have the consolation of a healthy majority still with 39 out of the 49 Councillors but the Lib Dem revival continues.
On the 23rd March the Lib Dem improvement continued when they took a seat in Dunster in West Somerset from the Conservatives in a ward they did not even contest in 2015. Conservatives retain 20 of the 28 seats.
In the pending list there are currently 86 by-elections scheduled for 4th May to coincide with the local elections taking place across all of Scotland, Wales and most of England.
Some of the interesting ones include polls in Manchester and Trafford on the same day as the Greater Manchester Mayoral election. Two in Rugby have the potential to give the Conservatives 21 of the 42 seats (assuming they hold the one they are defending); three in Chichester; three in Watford; two opposition seats in Dover where UKIP are defending and a strong second. Therefore it will be interesting to see if their vote holds up or if the Conservatives can strengthen their majority; two Labour held marginal seats in Gravesham where the Conservatives will be looking to boost their slim majority there; a Conservative defended seat in South Somerset where if the Lib Dems can continue their recovery and win the by-election then it would give them majority control of the Council.
Within April there are still a few by-elections, with an interesting one in the Clacton area of Tendring Council where a Conservative/ UKIP split ward is being contested following the death of the UKIP Cllr (who had already split from them to sit as a Coastal Independent).
In Aylesbury there is another split ward involving UKIP and Lib Dem. Harrow have another by-election as there are no scheduled elections in London this year, but this time it’s in the Kenton East ward, which is much closer politically between the Conservatives and Labour. In 2014 only 240 votes separated the third Labour candidate from the top Conservative candidate.