Another bumper set of council by-elections this week: eleven in total, of which nine have Liberal Democrat candidates. The two missing out on candidates are at least seats the party has in one case never and in the other case only once fought before – though even in the weakest of areas, every by-election can be a useful step in building up the party if the opportunity can be taken.
There was due to be a twelfth by-election this week too. At least 754 postal votes had even already been cast in the contest. However, the contest in Bryn ward, Wigan was called off after a councillor successfully argued in the courts that he hadn’t really resigned.
That’s not the only unusual political news to report, as in York the council has just acquired a Liberal Democrat leader:
YORK’S outgoing council leader David Carr has sensationally quit the Conservative group and party, accusing a faction within the authority’s group of committing an ‘act of betrayal’ against him…
His move left City of York Council with no leader, with Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Waller as acting leader…
The meeting was immediately adjourned by acting leader Andrew Waller. When it reconvened, he made a bid to defer the appointment of the new [leader] but that failed in the face of Conservative opposition, and when the Conservative’s new group leader Cllr Ian Gillies was proposed as new council leader he was opposed by Labour and Lib Dem councillors – meaning Cllr Waller was left in interim charge…
With the Lib Dems and Conservatives now tied on 12 councillors each, Cllr Waller said his group would have to talk about whether to nominate one of their own members as council leader.
“The change in numbers does change the dynamics, but I am confident there is a willingness to work through it.” [York Press]
On to the results, and they kick off with a Lib Dem gain. Congratulations to Benet Allen and the team for winning a seat in a ward the party hasn’t fought before:
In another contest the Lib Dems moved up from fourth to second, achieving another of those important second places outside areas of traditional strength thanks to David Payne and the team:
A second gain from the Conservatives too, this time in West Sussex with Matt Stanley winning a ward the party didn’t even contest last time:
Alas, also a pair of losses to the Conservatives in what were split Conservative/Lib Dem wards (previously 2 Con – 1 Lib Dem) in the same place, one at county level and one a district level:
A solid Lib Dem hold in Chichester, however, for Adrian Moss:
Elsewhere, the Conservatives both gained and lost a seat:
As for the two contests without a Lib Dem standing:
These by-election results round-ups cover principal authority by-elections. See my post The danger in celebrating parish and town council wins for your own party for the reasons to avoid straying too often into covering town, parish or community council by-elections.