No history of success

The Green Party continues to succeed in some Conservative-supporting areas, despite little or no former presence. 

Rutland’s Ryhall and Casterton ward provides the latest example. Since the current boundaries were established in 2003, the Greens have not fielded a candidate at any scheduled election.

In May 2019, the two sitting members, one Conservative, the other an Independent, were re-elected unopposed. However, the long-standing Independent, Chris Parsons, did not sign his acceptance of office, which led to his disqualification and a September by-election, in which the Conservative, Richard Coleman, gained the seat, despite a challenge from a Liberal Democrat and a Green. Coleman’s own resignation and the absence of a Lib Dem candidate from this by-election gave the Green’s Rick Wilson an opportunity, which he took by 13 votes.

The Conservatives suffered a second defeat in the soon-to-be-abolished South Somerset district. Neroche ward was established in 1973 and had returned a Conservative in 13 successive elections since then. The party faced no challengers at all until Labour triggered a contest in 1983, and in 1991 and 1995 the Liberal Democrats came within sight of victory. Persistence pays, it seems, with the Liberal Democrats’ Ray Buckler, a local parish councillor, overturning a 36 per cent Conservative majority.

Conservative defeat in Spelthorne’s Stanwell North ward was not unexpected. In 2019, the ward elected two Labour councillors and a single Conservative, who received rather more votes than his colleagues on the party’s slate. The Labour candidate to miss out then was Jon Button, but he made it over the line this time, albeit by only 38 votes.

The vacancy in East Lindsey’s Halton Holegate ward, prompted by the death of Independent Councillor Jim Swanson, gave the Conservative Party its only gain in a simple two-way fight with Labour.

Labour will be celebrating a gain from UKIP in Sunderland as it continues to face a strong challenge in some of its wards. Redhill was one of three seats won by UKIP in 2019. But while the challenge from that quarter has now largely disappeared, Labour continues to lose vote share, with both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats advancing in the 2021 elections.

Labour’s second gain saw the party win Durham’s Ferryhill ward. In 2021, as in previous years, voters divided their three ballot choices, electing Independent, Labour and Conservative councillors. Given that background, Labour’s 16-point margin of victory appears rather impressive.

Sadly, almost a third of the vacancies were caused by the deaths of councillors elected to district and county councils. 

Conservative Bob Adams had represented Isaac Newton ward on South Kesteven, and Colsterworth Rural division on Lincolnshire, for some years. Liberal Democrat Paul Clark was elected to North Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire in 2021. 

Fellow Liberal Democrat Craig Cannell, who died aged just 32, not only sat on Essex and Rochford councils but also Rayleigh Grange town council. He first won a seat at a 2018 by-election and was re-elected to the county and district only last May.

local by-elections
Castle Point, St. Peters
CON HELD
5.6% over Ind
Turnout 21.5%
Durham, Ferryhill
LAB GAIN FROM IND
16.4% over Ind Turnout 26.2%
East Lindsey, Halton Holegate
CON GAIN FROM IND
32.5% over Lab Turnout 21.8%
Essex, Rayleigh North
LIB DEM HELD
25.2% over Con
Turnout 21.9%
Herefordshire, Bromyard West
IND HELD
28.7% over Ind
Turnout 23.5%
Hertfordshire, Hitchin South
LIB DEM HELD
51.1% over Con
Turnout 31.3%
Lincolnshire, Colsterworth Rural
CON HELD
42.9% over Lib Dem
Turnout 22.8%
Maldon, Wickham Bishops and Woodham
CON HELD
29.9% over Ind
Turnout 23.4%
New Forest, Hythe West and Langdown
LIB DEM HELD
4.9% over Con
Turnout 25.2%
North Hertfordshire, Hitchin Highbury
LIB DEM HELD
42.6% over Con
Turnout 30%
Rochford, Downhall and Rawreth
LIB DEM HELD
44.9% over Con
Turnout 21.4%
Rutland, Ryhall and Casterton
GREEN GAIN FROM CON
2.4% over Con Turnout 23.9%
Sevenoaks, Brasted Chevening and Sundridge
CON HELD
21.2% over Lib Dem
Turnout 28.2%
Southend On Sea, Southchurch
CON HELD
45.8% over Ind
Turnout 21.2%
South Kesteven, Aveland
CON HELD
44.9% over Lib Dem
Turnout 25.9%
South Kesteven, Isaac Newton
CON HELD
31% over ND [checking]
Turnout 21.5%
South Somerset, Neroche
LIB DEM GAIN FROM CON
10.1% over Con Turnout 35%
Spelthorne, Stanwell North
LAB GAIN FROM CON
3.1% over Con Turnout 21.1%
Sunderland, Redhill
LAB GAIN FROM UKIP
21.4% over Lib Dem Turnout 25.4%

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