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Local Government By-election Report – July 2017

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Given the hectic nature of elections and by-elections in May and June, July was unsurprisingly, a relatively quiet month for sending the public to the polling stations.

In Middlesbrough Labour held one seat on 14th July, but lost a second in the Park End and Beckfield ward to a local Independent. On the same day the Conservative resurgence in Scotland continued when they took a seat from the SNP in Elgin in Moray, but in the Three Rivers Council in Hertfordshire they failed to win a seat off of the Lib Dems, one that they would have been targeting. Instead of closing to only two seats behind the Lib Dems and removing the slim Lib Dem majority on the Council, they instead handsomely lost the by-election by 830 votes, in what is a split ward between the two parties.

In Eden in Cumbria, Labour gained a seat from the Lib Dems on 21st July, but this only really moved the seat around the opposition parties and left the Conservatives with a continued two seat majority; whilst in Rutland the Lib Dems had an amazing reverse when they lost a seat to an Independent candidate, and saw their own vote share decrease by an amazing 56.9%.

In Leek in Staffordshire, the Conservatives lost a seat to Labour with the winners jumping 25.6% in their vote share but the political intelligence was that this was the most local of local by-elections, with issues such as the areas hospital taking a central position.

In Merton, Labour held their seat in the St Helier ward with an impressive 74% of the vote. In the Billingham North ward of Stockton, Labour also held their seat, but did so in the face of a Conservative surge by 19% of the vote to win by only 32 votes. This was important locally as Labour hold a slim four seat majority on the Council.

In the last week of July only three by-elections were held. Manchester saw Labour retain a seat and cement their control of the Council (95 and of the 96 Councillors!). In Blandford Forum in North Dorset the Conservatives managed to take a seat from an Independent in a ward split between the Independent and Lib Dems in 2015, but they only just managed the win after Labour surged 25% to miss taking their first seat on the Council by just three votes.

By-elections still to come include one on 3rd August in the central King’s Lynn ward of St Margarets with St Nicholas in North West Norfolk Council that is currently a split ward between Labour and Conservative.

The 3rd August sees an important by-election in Kent. The Margate Central ward in Thanet is voting to replace an Independent who was elected for UKIP in a ward split one each with Labour. Thanet is the UKIP standard bearer having given the Party full majority control of a Council for the first time in 2015. This majority has since been whittled down from the original 10 to their current position of one short of a majority after the recent defection of a Councillor to the Conservatives (the fourth since 2015), therefore UKIP will be very keen to get the seat back.

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