There was one principal local council by-election held on Thursday 2nd February. The Lib Dems gained one seat from Labour. There was one parish or town council by-election result reported to ALDC, a Lib Dem gain from the Tories.
Madeley is a pretty, vibrant and successful village just inside Staffordshire, between Crewe and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and is on the border between Staffordshire and Cheshire (and close to the Shropshire border too!) . The two member ward is in Newcastle Under Lyme. The Labour vote has historically been based in the old pit village area despite the pit closing in 1957.
Over the years its often been a close three way fight. In 2006, for instance, there were just 75 votes between the Labour victor and ourselves in third. In 2010 we took the seat off Labour. Labour’s candidate won the second seat off the Tories in 2011 but his death led to the by-election.
So how did we win our first principal council seat from Labour in 2012?
Some key factors:1. The strong record of our existing councillor Billy Welsh in the ward. We then emphasised the team with our newish candidate who had built his personal record since he fought in May and was well-known as the owner of an award-winning guest house.
2. The record of our group on the council which is in coalition (since 2006) with the Conservatives on issues such as the environment, recycling and carbon reduction improvements, new developments and a brand new leisure centre. We specifically highlighted the contributions of LD cabinet members and how those actions made a difference to Madeley.
3. Both the Tories and Labour ran lacklustre campaigns – perhaps due to complacency and the inclement weather.
4. The Tories failed to oppose the Boundary commission’s plans to abolish the Newcastle Under Lyme parliamentary constituency and put Madeley into a Stoke seat. We did not.
5. We expected and duly got attacked (largely on local issues) by Labour but we anticipated and rebutted their main attacks.
6. A small but dedicated cohesive Lib Dem team who ran their best campaign for years.
To top off a good day we won a parish seat off the Tories in Amersham, by four votes in the Old Town ward. Vera Head, of conference office fame, was our successful candidate. The two big issues that dominated the campaign were the HS2 route going through the ward and Buckinghamshire County council wanting to set up Waste Transfer Station in the ward
People forget that if the Tories were even to get a hung paneiamlrt . that would be a HUGE swing to us and a massive blow to the Labour party. Labour will take a much deserved hammering in the next election. Despite that little poll' I would put money on the result being a 40-60 seat majority for the Tories.