There are three by-elections taking place this week and Conservatives are yet again defending them all. They won't be easy holds either as the vacancies are all in fairly marginal wards. Labour will be looking to take a seat of the Tories in Brent (London) whilst the Liberal Democrats seem best placed to worry them in Shropshire and South Cambridgeshire.
We'll start with the South Cambridgeshire DC by-election, which has the most at stake locally. The Bourn ward is up for grabs following the resignation of Conservative Councillor David Morgan, who has taken a new job overseas. The vacancy has left the controlling Tory group on the Council with exactly half the seats. Morgan was elected last year in a close fight with the Liberal Democrats and they will be looking for a 3.1% swing from last May to take the seat. However, Labour have been consistently increasing their vote share in by-elections at the Lib Dems' expense. If this is repeated in this contest it will help the Conservatives hold the seat. A win for the Tories would give them a one seat majority until the partial Council elections in 11 weeks time.
South Cambridgeshire District Council
Clayton Hudson (CON)
Nick Glynn (LD)
Gavin Clayton (LAB)
The situation in Shropshire is very similar to that in Cambridgeshire. The Quarry & Coton Hill ward for the Unitary Authority is vacant following the resignation of Conservative Councillor Maxwell Winchester, who is moving back to his county of birth - Australia. The Liberal Democrats were only 73 votes behind the Tories in 2009 so they will be hoping for a gain in this by-election. They have kept their candidate from the last election and he will need a 3.8% swing from that result to take the seat. Labour didn't field a candidate in 2009 but they have for this by-election, whilst the Greens are absent despite a strong showing last time around. The Tories have a large majority in Shropshire so they can cope with a loss. As the Lib Dems have struggled recently in battles with the Tories we are likely to see a couple of holds in these contests.
Quarry & Coton Hill (Shropshire)
Judie McCoy (CON)
Andrew Bannerman (LD)
James Gollins (IND)
John Lewis (LAB)
The final by-election today is taking place in the London Borough of Brent. The death of Conservative Councillor Arthur Steel has left a vacancy in the Kenton ward. Labour were the runners-up here last May and they require a 5.8% swing to gain the seat. A recent poll has shown a 7% swing to Labour from the Conservatives in London since the last General Election so this should be close, although the red's performance in this particular ward last May was already an improvement from 2006. The Tories will have to deal with one of their former Councillors standing against them as an Independent which could work in Labour's favour. If Labour do manage to take the seat they will add to their comfortable majority in Brent.
Suresh Kansagra (CON)
Ellie Southwood (LAB)
Chunilal Chavada (LD)
Alan Mathison (GRN)
Robert Dunwell (IND)