Friday, 8 October 2010

Labour continue to gain Council seats, but it could have been better…

Labour enjoyed the best results in last night's by-elections as they held one District Council seat, and gained two from the Conservatives. However, in two wards they have held in recent years they performed poorly in one and, due to a mistake in the nomination papers, failed to field a candidate in another. Elsewhere there were no surprises as the Tories and the Liberal Democrats held onto safe seats.

I'll start in Wales where the Gwynedd County Council were hosting their third by-election since the General Election. In the first Llais Gwynedd (Voice of Gwynedd) held a seat by just four votes from Plaid Cymru but last week they lost one to the Welsh Nationalists. Yesterday the local party made amends by making an impressive gain from no-where in the Seiont ward. The by-election was called following the death of Independent Cllr. Bob Anderson but there did not appear to be a replacement Independent candidate on the ballot. This gave both Labour and Plaid Cymru a shot at gaining the seat, with the latter tantalisingly close to a majority on the Council. However, it was James Cooke of Llais Gwynedd who the voters turned to as he comfortably won the seat. This has brought their cohort of Councillors back up to 13 and left Plaid, who run the Council as a minority, holding 36 of the 75.

Seiont (Gwynedd)



Vote %

James Cooke (LG - E)



Menna Wyn Thomas



Tecwyn Thomas



Gareth Edwards



Llinos Mai Thomas



There were no surprises in the other top-tier by-election as the Conservatives easily held the Maidenbower ward on the West Sussex County Council. The vacancy arose following the election of the sitting Conservative Councillor Henry Smith as the new MP for Crawley. Despite a swing towards Labour Cllr. Robert Lanzer won with a comfortable 600 vote cushion.

Maidenbower (W Sussex)



Vote %


Robert Lanzer (E)




Peter Smith




Sulu Pandya




John MacCanna




Arshad Khan (JP)




It was in the District Council by-elections where the interesting results could be found. For reasons unrelated to the County Council election the Tilgate ward on the Crawley Borough Council was up for grabs. Labour required a swing of just 3% to gain the seat from the Conservatives and they managed this with ease. In the absence of a Liberal Democrat or a BNP candidate they increased their vote by over 15% and won the seat by over 100 votes. This is a fairly significant gain for Labour as up until now they have been struggling to make ground against the Tories in the South.

Labour also managed to gain a seat off the Conservatives in the North. The Irwell ward on the Rossendale Borough Council (Lancashire) was going to be a tough seat to hold for the Tories considering Labour's performances in the North recently. But it was the inclusion of a Lib Dem candidate on the ballot which seemed to have hurt the Conservatives. Labour's vote stood still but the Tories' dropped by almost 14%. In another by-election in Rossendale, Labour easily saw off the challenge from a local Independent party. Ronald Alan Neal managed to hold the Healey & Whitworth ward this May against Labour, despite the General Election turnout. Neal stood under the Community First label but his success was not replicated by the party's candidate last night. Labour successfully defended the seat with a majority of almost 200 votes.

Despite these good results for Labour they missed an opportunity in East Lancashire to gain a seat from a local Independent party. They held two of the three seats in the Harbour ward, Lancaster City Council, so they would have been favourites to gain the third following the death of the other Councillor; a Morecambe Bay Independent. However, Labour failed to provide all the necessary paperwork to get their candidate on the ballot, so the local Independents held the seat comfortably from the Tories.

Elsewhere the Liberal Democrats held St James', Tunbridge Wells DC (Kent) and Saxondale, Blaby DC (Leicestershire). The Conservatives also held the safe ward of Tithebarn, Wyre BC (Lancashire). In Town Council by-elections the Tories held Castle, Oswestry TC (Shropshire) and gained two seats, Conygre and Northville, on the Filton Town Council (South Gloucestershire) from Labour.


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