There were four principal council elections held on the 4th February. The Tories held one seat. The Lib Dems held one seat but also lost two seats to Labour. There were three Parish council elections reported to ALDC.
Rarely, thankfully, do we have to report on an utter disaster, but that was the case in the Holmewood and Heath by-election in North East Derbyshire. In 2007 two Labour councillors were elected for the ward un-opposed. In fact they had been unopposed for the last 20 years and only Labour had ever been elected in this coal mining and largely council housing renting area. In April 2008 there was a by-election that we won with 42% and a 26 vote majority. Our sitting councillor resigned after 14 months non-attendance due to ill health and we failed to stand a candidate to defend the seat. The problem may have come from the ward switching from the North East Derbyshire constituency to Bolsover in the boundary changes but whatever the reason conceding without a fight borders on the politically criminal.
Further bad news came in the form of a loss to Labour in the Queens Park Ward of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. The Lib Dem’s in Blackburn form part of a joint administration. The seat was vacant beacuse the councillor resigned – he had been expelled from the Group for non-attendance and he subsequently resigned from the Council The council’s weekly bin collections and Housing Market Renewal scheme were popular, its gritting and ensuing bin collection problems were not – particularly when polling day itself involved snow related traffic problems.
The line was finally drawn at the Whyteleafe Ward of Tandridge District Council in Surrey, where recently appointed PPC David Lee led the party to a successful defence. A general ‘anti’ vote drove the UKIP vote share well beyond the likely return on their limited campaign, and a half-hearted Tory effort failed to register dramatically. The Labour party failed to field a candidate. Creating a legacy of new canvass data, in addition to returning a Liberal Democrat Councillor to Tandridge DC, makes the Lee campaign a bright spot in an otherwise dreary February week.
The only other principal election this week was an unremarkable Conservative Hold in the Newchapel Ward of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. The Tories held off UKIP by only 60 votes, an early indication, perhaps, of the electoral dangers currently facing the Conservatives in 2010’s new political climate.