The biggest election news of October has of course been the calling of a General Election in December, but in the midst of this, local authorities up and down the country continued to fill their vacant seats.
The month began with six elections being held on the 3rd. In Aberdeen, two seats were up for grabs in the Bridge of Don ward, Sarah Cross (Conservative) and Jessica Mennie (SNP) both held seats for their respective parties. Mia Rees was elected as a ward member for Whitchurch and Tongwynlais on Cardiff City Council which meant the Conservatives held the seat. The Conservatives retained their Syston West ward seat in Charnwood, where Sue Gerrard topped the poll, narrowly beating the Green Party candidate- the Greens’ share of the vote surging by nearly 20% in comparison with their result in May. In Clacton an Independent candidate was elected in a seat vacated by another Independent. Mark Stephenson, a former Tendring UKIP councillor and ex-leader of the UKIP group joining Essex County Council as the member for Clacton. Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats gained a seat in Somerset West and Taunton- Andy Sully winning the Norton Fitzwarren and Staplesgrove seat previously held by an Independent.
The biggest story emerging from the elections on the 10th October came from Basingstoke & Deane, where Chris Tomblin, an Independent, un-seated the Conservatives to put the Council into no overall control.
There were significantly fewer elections this week than last; the Liberal Democrats held their Tudor ward seat in Watford thanks to Bill Stanton winning. In Corby, Alison Dalziel held Labour’s Beanfield seat. Other council news from the week also included Cllr Angela Hamilton, a Labour member of South Tyneside Council having the whip withdrawn due to her support for a Green Party motion on environmental policy.
Elections held on 17th October saw the Conservatives gain two seats, one from Labour in Gravesham and another from an Independent in North Yorkshire. In Gravesham, the previously Labour-held seat of Westcourt was won by Helen Ashenden for the Tories. Their share of the vote rose by 21% since contesting the same seat in May- Labour only actually lost 5.5% of their vote but the dramatic drop in support of UKIP, down by half to 11% will likely have helped Cllr Ashenden to victory. In North Yorkshire there was a huge swing, an independent group losing 23.1% of the vote allowing Yvonne Peacock (Conservative) to claim the seat. Liverpool City Council also held a by-election for the Princes Park ward, Labour further tightening their grip on the seat with a vote share of 73.1%. During this week 3 members of a Residents’ Association in Uttlesford joined the Green Party, giving the Greens their first representation on the council.
The 24th was far busier, with 8 authorities filling empty seats. The Conservatives again gained a seat from Labour but this time in Daventry. The Abbey North ward seat was won by Lauryn Harrington-Carter who increased the Tories’ share by 14% from 2018- the Labour vote collapsing and the Lib Dems beating them to second place. The Conservatives also held the Newton South seat in Powys, Cope Green & Gregson Lane seat in South Ribble, Torksey seat in West Lindsey and the Melksham Without South seat in Witshire. It is worth noting however that in Wiltshire and Powys the Lib Dems increased their share of the vote by 35.7% and 21.5% respectively, which signals potential voting intention in December. Another election took place on the same night in Powys where the Liberal Democrats managed to gain the Llandrindod North seat, Jake Berriman recording a 47.2% increase on 2017. Labour narrowly held on to the Heavitree & Whipton Barton seat in Devon by 40 votes and in their Bagillit West seat in Flintshire where Kevin Rush beat an Independent candidate.
The month was closed out with three elections, the first of which came on Wednesday 30th in which the Riverside ward of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead was contested. The Riverside ward was previously held by former leader and now Parliamentary hopeful for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. Despite the Conservatives attracting negative attention in the Borough due to their handling of local finances, Greg Jones increased the Conservative share of the vote by 5.6%. Thursday 31st October was a bad night for Labour in Worcestershire, losing 32.2% of their share from 2017 and allowed the Conservatives stormed to victory in Bromsgrove South- Kyle Daisely claiming the seat. Finally, the Liberal Democrats held the Leamington Lillington seat on Warwick County Council, improving on their performance in May to record 55.3% of the vote.
In a similar fashion to last month, the Liberal Democrats have once again performed strongly, consistently increasing their share of the vote in almost all contests and picking up 2 seats while successfully defending all the wards they previously held. The Conservatives managed to pick up 3 seats- all from Labour while losing 1 to the Lib Dems, and although their share of the vote has decreased across the board, the results signal a broadly successful month for the Tories. Labour must be seen as the biggest losers this month, losing three seats to the Tories and being beaten into third in two of them.