By-election report – December
Now that the dust has settled from last month’s General Election, Cratus has returned with its first instalment of the by-election report series 2020. Along with the 650 parliamentary seats being up for grabs, there were also just under 40 local council seats being contested up and down the country.
Only one contest took place at the start of the month and it came from Wales. In Rhondda Cynon Taff, Plaid Cymru were dealt a blow as Labour’s Julie Edwards took the Ynyshir electoral division. This further tightens Labour’s grip on the authority as they now hold 47/75 seats.
The bulk of the action came as a double whammy on the day of the General Election. As one may expect, voting trends at the local level closely followed the national trend with the Conservatives retaining all their seats which were vacated and picking up a handful of seats across the country. As there were over 30 on this day, we have noted some of the most significant results.
In London, the Conservatives managed to gain a seat on Hounslow Borough Council from Labour, taking the Feltham North seat. Kuldeep Tak is the new ward councillor for Feltham North. In Heston West however, Labour held on to the seat by a comfortable enough margin, but there was a surge in support for the Conservatives in comparison to the results from 2018 – from 16% to 24%. Islington also held a council by-election and although it was a woeful night for Labour, they were not moved in Jeremy Corbyn’s borough- Gulcin Ozdemi was elected in the St George’s ward with more than 45% of the vote. Labour also successfully defended the Cissold ward in Hackney.
Moving away from the capital, the only other seat to have changed hands was the Upwell & Delph seat on King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Council. The seat was vacated by an Independent and the Conservatives will be extremely relieved to now have 29/55 seats and command a slightly more convincing majority.
Casting an eye up to the North, the Conservatives’ strong performance across the ‘red wall’ was backed up by their successful defence of the Church ward seat on Bury Council.
The only bad news for the Conservatives from this week came from Aberdeen, where a defection by Cllr Alan Donnelly leaves their coalition and places the administration in an extremely precarious position.
Three Aldermen were re-elected in the City of London without opposition. Peter Estlin for Coleman Street, Alison Gowman for Dowgate and Vincent Keaveny for Farringdon Within.
The other action at the end of the month came from the Midlands. In Staffordshire and Tamworth, the Tories successfully defended the Watling South division and Mercian wards respectively.
The month was very busy, but only a handful of seats actually changed hands. These changes came in favour of the Conservatives, in line with their thumping victory in the General Election. The impact of the month’s elections is that there will be a number of big changes and subsequent by-elections due to high-profile councillors being elected to Parliament. Among these changes will be a new Leader at some point for Westminster Council, as Nickie Aiken has succeeded Mark Field as the Cities of London and Westminster MP. Gagan Mohindra’s election will also possibly trigger an election in Epping Forest. It is worth noting that it does not necessarily mean these MPs will resign as councillors, former Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad continued to hold her council seat for the duration of her Parliamentary term.
As the weeks roll on, these dates will be announced so watch this space!