Graham Pooley, our Chelmsford candidate out campaigningThere were four principal local council by-elections held on Thursday 9th June 2011. The Tories held two seats and gained one from the Lib Dems. There were no parish or town council by-election results reported to ALDC.

The Chelmsford Central Division by-election for Essex County Council was caused by the death of the Lib Dem councillor.  In May the two borough wards that form the county division had elections. In Moulsham Lodge –  a historically safe Lib Dem ward we won. In Moulsham and Central the Conservatives won. The aggregate vote put the Tories around 480 ahead just a few weeks ago. We did a very full campaign, but so did both the newly invigorated Tories and Labour. Labour in particular did far more than usual; very negative and national, no local issues.

As usual in local by-elections the postal vote was critical. 63% of postal voters voted! Yet the overall turnout was only 29%. Our efforts were hampered by a slow start on our canvassing, and particularly phone canvassing of postal voters in the weeks immediately following the local elections. Our response on the doorstep was notably better than for the May borough elections and we edged closer to the Tories but we still failed to squeeze the resilient Labour vote. Labour was 10% higher than 2009 but slightly lower than the 20.2% they got in May.

In Scotland the Tain and Easter Ross ward of Highland council reflected the national swings to the SNP.  In 2007 the Independents (a strong force on Highland council) topped the poll to win a seat over quota and the Scottish Lib Dems picked up the second, the SNP who had been third on first preferences got pipped at the post by another Independent for the third. In the by-election the SNP surged but an Independent hung on to win at the fourth stage.

The two wards that were held by the Tories in Kensington and Chelsea, Brompton  and Queens Gate were both well established, and the results surprised nobody.

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