The tranquil surroundings of the Wells constituency formed the backdrop to our best result of the day, where a Lib Dem gain from the Conservatives put us only one seat behind the Tories on Mendip D.C. and brought the council into No Overall Control. Candidate Garfield Kennedy led from the front, knocking on every door in the ward, building on Tessa Munt’s election to parliament in May. Swiftly acquiring a number of strategic sites on the approach to a popular local supermarket for our superboards and a further forty different stakeboard locations, made it a high visibility campaign. Our messages were spread, and some new members signed up, by the candidate hiring a stall in town on market day. The Coalition was generally well-received on the doorstep and we found ourselves on the right side of local planning concerns and a parking charges controversy that were hurting the (Conservative-run) Mendip District Council. Postal votes arrived before the budget, and the P.V.-targeted blue letter dropped onto doormats on the same day – in the end, the postal vote broke approximately two-thirds in our favour. The campaign also made good use of ALDC’s Focus and Good Morning templates to help tailor their local literature output, templates for all occasions can be found in the members’ area of www.aldc.org.
Our second gain of the day was the Clee ward of Shropshire Unitary Authority, where candidate Richard Huffer built on his established reputation as a dedicated community worker to take the ward from a complacent local Tory party. A range of literature, beginning with the post-General ‘Thank You’ Focus and including letters targeted geographically to capitalise on the range of local issues affecting specific areas. Richard succeeded in converting a number of disillusioned soft-Conservative votes on the basis of his prodigious door-knocking efforts and his long record of action on local issues. The prospect of Conservative-run Shropshire cutting funding for ‘Meals on Wheels’ and local mobile library services also helped seal the deal by keeping the focus firmly at local level.
In other developments, the Tories gained a seat on Fylde Borough Council from an Independent and they held the Huntingdon and Hatherton ward of South Staffordshire District Council by the princely margin of two votes. It was a reasonable day for Labour, holding the three they were defending. Finally, the non-principal by-elections saw a Lib Dem loss to an Independent on Chard Town Council in Somerset, and our own Town Councillor Michael Reginald Lock successfully defending a seat on Yeovil T.C.