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Local Government By-election Report – September 2017


After the summer off-season, the by-elections taking place picked up the pace in September with 14 on the first Thursday of the month alone. In our August report we highlighted a few interesting polls confirmed as taking place early in the month, such as the double by-election in Cannock Chase or the split wards in places as far apart as Colchester, Tiverton or Adur, and September proved to be electorally eventful with several seats changing hands.

In Cannock Chase, the Conservatives were defending both seats and duly managed to lose both of them, one to Labour and one to the Greens. The Labour victory was significant, as a recent defection from their ranks by a Councillor going Independent had meant they had lost their majority on the Council, so winning the extra seat at the by-election has given Labour their single seat majority back on the Council.

In Colchester the Lib Dems failed in their defence of the seat, falling to third place, behind Conservatives and Labour. Conservatives move further ahead of the Lib Dems as the largest Party but the Council remains hung.

In East Cambridgeshire the swing went the other way with the Conservatives losing what should have been a fairly safe seat in Ely to the Lib Dems, although the Conservatives remain firmly in charge of the Council.

In Babergh in Suffolk, Labour took a seat from Conservatives in a marginal ward by a single vote. In Lewes the Greens have turned the Ouse Valley into a three way split ward with the Conservatives and Lib Dems by taking a seat from the Conservatives. Both Council’s remain Conservative controlled.

On 14th September there were only three by-elections held but, unusually, all three seats changed hands from where they had been previously. In Trafford the Conservatives lost a seat to Labour (but maintain a small majority on the Council) and in West Dorset they managed to lose a safe seat to a local Independent. On the flip side, in the Mid Devon by-election in Tiverton the Conservatives took the seat from an Independent, who had been elected as UKIP in a ward already split between the two. UKIP didn’t even bother standing a candidate.

On 21st September, the Lib Dems made two gains from Labour, one in Chesterfield in a previously Labour ward and one in Oadby and Wigston in Leicestershire in what was a split ward between the two. Oadby and Wigston was Lib Dem run already, and this result just knocked out Labour from the Council. Chesterfield remains safely Labour controlled.

At the end of the month, UKIP were theoretically defending a seat in Thetford, Breckland (although the Councillor who resigned to cause the by-election had already defected to the Conservatives). Neither Party won the by-election though with the seat falling to Labour after they surged by 29.5% from third to first.

In Harlow, Labour kept its Toddbrook ward seat in a by-election that saw UKIP collapse and both Labour and Conservatives increase their vote share evenly.

In the upcoming elections for October, there is what should be a safe Lib Dem seat in Redcar where Labour were 400 votes behind in 2015. Labour are only 2 seats short of a majority, so if they can snatch this seat they will creep a little bit closer to full control.

The Adur by-election mentioned last month- with UKIP defending- is also on the 5th and in Sherwood on the 12th the Conservatives are defending a seat in a ward they split with Labour, although Labour have a solid control of the overall Council administration.

On the same day in Watford the Conservatives are defending a split ward seat that also has a strong Labour presence and in Aberdeenshire they defend a seat that could be won by virtually anyone as it currently is a four member ward split one each between Conservatives, Lib Dem, SNP and an Independent.

Hartlepool has an interesting by-election on 19th October that is split three ways between UKIP, and Independent and the hyper local Party Putting Hartlepool First.

Still to set a date though is the Wandsworth by-election in Thamesfield ward, where the Conservatives should win easily having held the ward in 2014 by 1500 votes, but given the current political climate in London, you never know what might happen.

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