Local Government By-election Report – December 2017
December saw the usual reduction in by-elections given the Christmas holidays with elections being held in just the first two weeks of the month.
Enfield saw the last London by-election of the term on the 7th with the Highway ward being held comfortably by Labour where two-thirds of the UKIP vote looks to have gone to them rather than the Conservatives.
In the Newport ward of North Devon the Lib Dems snatched a seat from the Conservatives in a marginal ward after their vote increased by 9% and the Conservatives dropped 6% after Labour stood a candidate (having not done so in the previous 2015 elections) and took 8% of the vote share.
The Lib Dems also took a seat from the Conservatives in the Godalming and Ockford ward of Waverley. This time the Lib Dems were a fresh entry having not stood in 2015 and took 37.8% of the vote to win by 20 votes. The win is the first Lib Dem seat on the Council and is the third loss by the Conservatives out of four recent by-elections after two Farnham Residents Association victories in October 2016.
In Barnsley the Rockingham ward was had easily by Labour but was interesting in that UKIP had been second in 2016 with 32.5% of the vote. They once again failed to stand a candidate and their vote split across all three main Parties.
In Newcastle-Under-Lyme, there were two by-elections on 14th December. Labour narrowly held Bradwell ward after the (once again) removal of UKIP gave the Conservatives a 31.8% boost in their vote share. In Newchapel an already Labour/ Conservative split ward saw Labour’s seat taken by the Conservatives. Both Parties lost vote share to a local Independent, it was just the Conservatives lost less overall. Newcastle remains a highly split borough with Labour the largest group with 25 Councillors followed by the Conservatives 23 (who form the administration) with eight Independents, three Lib Dems and one UKIP.
In Torridge in Devon, the Conservatives lost a seat in Westward Ho! to a local Independent and in Welwyn Hatfield the Lib Dems comfortably held their seat in a split ward with the Conservatives after a 17% increase in their vote share couple with s drop of 9.3% for the Conservatives.
Amongst the by-elections still pending is still one in Crawley where Labour are defending a seat in a split ward held 2-1 in their favour with the Conservatives. Labour currently lead the Council with 20 seats to the Conservatives 17, so a switch of the seat will make the Council a knife edge majority.
The Thanet by-election is now set for 11th January where the Conservatives will defend a seat in a ward split three ways between Conservative, UKIP and an Independent. UKIP have lost their majority through defections and dropped from 33 Councillors to 25. They are still the largest group and run the administration so will presumably target this by-election to try and get back closer to full control.
In Falkirk, the SNP defend a seat in a three way split ward with the Conservatives and an existing Independent. The borough is currently very split with 12 SNP, 9 Labour, 7 Conservative and 2 Independents.
Finally for the year, in East Staffordshire there is a by-election to replace a Councillor only elected by another by-election in September 2017 and who has already resigned.