In the latest batch of by-elections, the Greens continued to make gains, one each from Labour and Conservative, but lost a seat of their own.
The Conservatives made a rare gain from Labour in Cambridge, while Labour also suffered a setback in one of its strongest councils.
The Green Party’s Terry Wheeler was forced to resign his Tavistock North seat in West Devon – won only last May – when he had to leave his rented home and was unable to find an affordable alternative.
His replacement, Annabel Martin, performed well, but fell just short of retaining the seat. The two candidates ahead of her tied on 233 votes. Independent Ursula Mann and Liberal Democrat Holly Greenbury-Pullen then drew lots to settle the matter, which went in Mann’s favour.
Better news for the Greens came a week later with a gain from Labour in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s East Cliff and Sherbourne ward.
The result last May saw a close finish in the three-member ward, with Labour taking two seats and the Conservatives one. The leading Green candidate, Sara Armstrong, fell 13 votes short of taking the third seat.
But five days after being elected, Labour’s Martin Bedford resigned, citing health reasons, giving a second opportunity to Armstrong, which she duly took.
The Green’s second gain came courtesy of a split within Conservative ranks in Norfolk.
Conservative Beverley Spratt had represented the West Depwade county division, regularly re-elected by large margins. Before the 2021 elections, however, he was de-selected.
Undaunted, he stood again, this time as an Independent, but lost heavily. The by-election, caused by the incumbent Barry Duffin’s death, saw Spratt return as an Independent and, with the Conservative vote split, the Green’s Catherine Rowett, a former Member of the European Parliament, eased to victory.
Many councils are considering schemes for traffic regulation and Labour-run Cambridge is one. The plan is to implement a congestion charge for vehicles between 7am and 7pm.
These schemes often divide local communities and opposition parties provide a means of giving electors a voice.
The Conservatives campaigned against the charge in last May’s elections and saw their vote rise. The vacancy in King’s Hedges came after recently elected Alex Collis, at odds with the Labour administration, not only resigned her seat, but also party membership. The Conservatives won by just 24 votes, providing its first council victory here since 2012.
Council by-elections continue to focus strong feelings about local issues.
The Conservative hold in Rotherham’s Dinnington ward proved easier than expected given the vacancy arose from the sitting councillor’s disqualification under the six-month rule. Despite this, Julia Hall defended the seat and, afterwards, referenced a controversial housing development plan proposed for the ward as a factor in her win.
A disappointing set of elections for Labour culminated in the party losing a seat in Newham, one of its strongest councils.
Although it easily retained the Wall End seat, there was a different outcome in Boleyn ward.
Here, Mehmood Mirza, standing as an Independent, produced an upset, overturning a large Labour majority and winning by almost 300 votes.
Mirza contested Newham’s 2022 mayoral contest, finishing fourth on that occasion, and is clearly establishing a local campaigning base.
29.7% over Lib Dem
|Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, East Cliff and Springbourne
GREEN GAIN FROM LAB
9.5% over Con
|Cambridge, King’s Hedges
CON GAIN FROM LAB
1.3% over Lab
|Dorset, Sherborne West
LIB DEM HELD
9.4% over Con
|Haringey, Hermitage and Gardens
45.7% over Green
|Kent, Maidstone Central
LIB DEM HELD
6.1% over Con
IND GAIN FROM LAB
10.4% over Lab
|Newham, Wall End
33.9% over Con
|Norfolk, West Depwade
GREEN GAIN FROM CON
3.5% over Con
9.8% over Lab
29.7% over Lib Dem
|West Devon, Tavistock North
IND GAIN FROM GREEN
0.1% over Lib Dem
For more details on these and other recent results, please view the full elections spreadsheet.