Local Government By-Election Report – February 2017
On 2nd February Rotherham held two by-elections that ended with both changing hands. One went from Labour to the Lib Dems with a huge increase of 48.7% in their vote and a 20.2% reduction in the Labour vote, whilst the other saw Labour replace their loss with a gain from UKIP. Labour therefore retained their healthy majority of 37 on the Council.
In Cotswold the Lib Dems took a seat from Conservatives with a 40.3% increase in their vote share. The result adds to the Lib Dem Group but the Conservatives still have a 10 seat majority over them with no other political parties getting a look in.
In the January report we mentioned about the Conservatives defending a seat in North Norfolk with the Lib Dems challenging. That challenge did indeed prove successful with the Lib Dems increasing their share by 30.5% and taking the seat comfortably. As mentioned the Conservatives still hold a healthy majority on the District Council but with Norfolk County Council a hung Council that was run by a grand coalition of Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP, Green and Independents from 2013-16, the Lib Dem resurgence could make an impact on the County elections in May and the Conservative hopes of retaking their previous majority.
In Tendring UKIP have proven that they aren’t finished yet by taking a seat from Independents. The win takes them to 22 Councillors, only one behind the Conservatives on the hung Council, with Independents, Labour, Lib Dems and Residents holding the remaining 13 seats combined.
Also noted in January, Labour successfully defended their seat in Dudley and retained their minority control of the Council with 34 out of the 72 seats whilst the Greens took the seat in Forest of Dean from UKIP in a ward that had previously been a five way fight. In Uttlesford in Essex the Lib Dems had a reverse on their recent fortunes by losing their two seats to the Residents Association in the same ward following a double resignation.
In Wokingham, the Lib Dems had another win by taking a seat in Emmbrook ward from the Conservatives but the Council remains safe Conservative with 46 out of the 54 seats and in South Hams they took a seat from the Conservatives having not even stood at the last election for the ward. The Conservatives remain in control 25-7.
In Basingstoke and Deane Labour had an important gain from the Conservatives in Winklebury ward and narrowed the Conservative majority on the Council from six to four.
Redcar and Cleveland have their two by-elections on 2nd March where both are opposition held (Conservative and Lib Dem). Labour are a minority administration with 28 of 59 seats and although the Conservatives should have a safe seat, the Lib Dems are vulnerable. Should Labour manage to win both by-elections they would take majority control of the Council.
Harrow’s Roxbourne ward remains waiting for its 9th March poll. Labour are defending the seat and should be able to hold on having held it consistently in recent borough elections but Harrow is a Conservative target borough for the 2018 London elections.
In Derby, Labour currently have control by one seat but UKIP are defending a seat on 9th March following the death of one of their Councillors. This was a close four way marginal in 2014 with the Conservatives and Lib Dems added in so could go any way but it does present Labour with a good chance to get more of a workable majority.
In Calderdale there is a by-election without a date set yet in Hipperholme and Lightcliffe ward, which is currently split between two Conservatives and an Independent. The Conservatives are defending and will be keen to stay just two seats behind Labour overall.
In Rugby, the Conservatives are the largest party with 20 of the 42 seats but Labour are defending a seat in New Bilton that the Conservatives were only 300 votes behind at the last regular election in 2014. A Conservative win would give them parity with the other parties combined. No date is yet set for the election to take place.