There were nine principal council by-elections held on the 22nd October. The Tories held seven seats and gained one from an independent unopposed and the Liberal Democrats held one seat. There were no Parish and Town council election results reported to ALDC.
In the Vale Of White Horse DC, Abingdon Dunmore Ward we held the seat seemingly comfortably. The relatively small shift between the Tories and us doesn’t really tell the whole story as this ward is half of one of the County seats we lost in June, Abingdon North, with this result:
LD 1177 37.9%
Con 1402 45.2%
Grn 334 10.8%
Lab 189 6.1%
The campaign was fought very hard by both us and the Tories. The by-election was caused by our councillor, Tim Smith, moving to Australia because of work. We were lucky to find a young and enthusiastic candidate, Julia Bricknell, who was born and brought up in the ward.
During the eight weeks up to polling day we delivered six Focuses and four sets of target letters, eve of poll and good morning. We did a very thorough canvass – 61% contact during the by-election and an overall total of 88% on Latest.
We also knocked on about half the doors in the ward with a petition on a big local issue – the need for an improved junction at north Abingdon with the A34 – an issue which put the Tories on the back foot. This issue dominated the campaign right up to polling day when Dr Evan Harris MP asked a question in parliament about it.
We concentrated hard on the postal vote, both signing up supporters and then targeting them up to when the postal votes were delivered. We did three target letters and also did targeted door-knocking in the days running up to them being delivered. The turnout of postal voters was 82% (!) and they contributed a good proportion of our majority.
In the Nevile Ward of Rushcliffe Borough Council in Nottinghamshire we lost out by just 13 votes. The huge swing was down to a lot of hard work by our team. The 84 year old Tory councillor had been on the council since 1960! Six un-wasted weeks after his death the Tories had still not called the election, so we did. The ward had been part of a targeted county division and so received some Focuses but being very rural it had not previously been seen as “good territory”. Our first leaflet was a clear guide to a new bus service establishing us as actually useful to the electorate. Our second was a survey. Our candidate lived in the ward but did not quite believe the canvass returns. It’s frustrating to lose by a small amount, after recounts but the Thank You Focus is alreadyat the printers and we are now targeting 2011!
Elsewhere in Eriswell & the Rows Ward of Forest Heath District council in Suffolk we stood a candidate and nearly pulled off another great result with a 39.6% increase in our vote.
The Tories one gain came unopposed in the Sibsey Ward of East Lindsey District Council in Lincolnshire. Technically it was a gain from East Lindsey Independent not only did we not stand in the by-election, the deceased East Lindsey Independent had been elected unopposed in May 2007. Always stand a candidate