After a couple of busy weeks there are only two top-tier by-elections and one District poll taking place tomorrow. But sometimes quality is better than quantity, and the two top tier elections are both interesting contests. Despite the lack of election activity in principle authority Councils this week, there are still 5 Town and Parish vacancies to be filled.
We'll start in Wolverhampton where the death of Conservative Cllr. Gill Fellows has left the City Council on a knife edge. The 2010 election left the Conservatives needing a little help from the Liberal Democrats to stay in control of the Council. Although Labour won 29 of the 60 seats the other two parties combined to run the Council on a wafer thin majority of two. With that in mind the last thing the Coalition needed was a vacancy in a Ward they will find very difficult to hold. In 2008, Fellows won her seat in Bilston North by only 92 votes but in May this year Labour comfortably carried this ward. The third seat in the multi-member ward is also held by Labour, and so things don't look to good for the Tories. They might have been helped by the Lib Dems standing aside, but their coalition partners decided against this and they are fielding a candidate for the by-election. It's debatable whether this would have saved the seat for the Conservatives anyway as their 2010 vote combined with the Lib Dems' total was still less than Labour's. It seems probable that Labour will gain Bilston North tomorrow leaving Council split 30/30. The Liberal Democrat Mayor would then possess the casting vote.
Bilston North (Wolves)
Marlene Berry (CON)
Linda Leach (LAB)
Darren Friel (LD)
Stewart Gardner (BNP)
Barry Hodgson (UKIP)
The Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council is also very tight, but in this instance it is run by a minority Conservative administration. They currently hold 31 of the 64 seats on the Council but they are unlikely to gain the Radstock Ward up for grabs tomorrow. The by-election is taking place following the death of Independent Councillor Alan Hall. In 2007 Labour won the most votes in this multi-member ward, however they only fielded one candidate. Second place was a close battle between five Independents, in which Hall came out on top, and the Conservatives were quite a way behind. The vote percentages given below are of each party's* best candidates total, however the combined votes breakdown very differently: LAB 20.6%, IND 65.6%, CON 13.9%. It will be interesting to see where the votes from the Independent candidates go tomorrow, especially as a Liberal Democrat is standing this time around.
Lesely Mansell (LAB)
Keith Pate (IND)
Deirdre Horstmann (CON)
Simon Allen (LD)
The sole District Council by-election this week is for the Haywards Heath – Franklands Ward on the Mid Sussex Council. The Conservatives run the Council with a majority of seven. They are also the defending party in this tomorrow, but it's a ward they easily won in 2007 so I doubt they'll be unduly worried.
The five Town and Parish by-elections are all taking place in the South West: Keynsham South, Keynsham Town Council (Somerset); Mount Hawke, St Agnes Parish Council (Cornwall); Bolslowick, Falmouth Town Council (Cornwall); South, Redruth Town Council (Cornwall); Crewkerne Town Council (Somerset).
* Independents counted as one 'party'