Looking at the interesting by-elections in local government across December, the Lib Dems continued to show their recovery, as seen on a national level by the Lib Dem victory in the Richmond Park Parliamentary by-election on 1st December. On the same day in Chichester they took a seat from the Conservatives after increasing their share of the vote by 22% and the Conservatives collapsed by 37.9%. Still a healthy majority of 34 for the Conservatives though.
In Tower Hamlets the ex-Tower Hamlets First grouping (that are now badged as three different sets of Independents after their Party was banned by the electoral commissioners in the wake of the former Mayor being removed from office) retained a seat in Whitechapel after the previous Cllr was disqualified from office. Tower Hamlets seems safely back in the hands of the Labour Party.
On the 8th December Labour held a seat in Lancaster City which was important as they hold 30 of the 60 seats so govern a hung council and losing would have pushed them into a minority, leaving them at risk of being defeated in meetings if the Conservatives, Greens and Independents could act together. It was also interesting to see the low turnout as Labour won with only 98 votes!
In Telford and Wrekin Labour took a seat from Conservatives to make Horsehay and Lightmoor ward a split ward with one Cllr each, but the change will also to take the Council from no overall control to Labour having a majority of two with 28 out of the 54 Cllrs.
In the week before Christmas the Conservatives held a seat in Cranleigh West ward in Waverley, following the death of a long-term incumbent. The replacement was already a member of the Parish Council but the essential element to the controlling Conservative group, was that no resident’s candidate stood against them on an anti-development ticket. This had recently happened in Farnham where they lost two seats to the town RA over the local plan, making them wary about it happening again in Cranleigh.
In Eastleigh, the Lib Dems held a seat by increasing their vote share by 22.5%. Their majority is comfortable with 38 of the 44 Cllrs (despite losing the MP in the 2015 General Election).
In the pending by-elections, the Conservatives are defending a seat in Three Rivers District in Hertfordshire against the Lib Dems in a ward currently split 2-1 in the Lib Dems favour, who will see this as a good opportunity to clear up the ward. The Council is also closely balanced with the Lib Dems currently only two seats short of a majority. The by-election is due on 12th January.
In Rotherham, Labour are defending two seats in wards they split 2-1 with UKIP. The by-elections are due on 2nd February.
In Derby there is a pending by-election in a ward split three ways between Labour, Conservative and UKIP. UKIP is the defending Party.
In the Forest of Dean there is a similar situation with a ward split three ways between Labour, UKIP and an Independent but where the majority Conservatives are close making the ward an unusual four way marginal.