There were two principal local council by-elections held on Thursday 1st March. The Lib Dems lost one seat to Labour but gained one seat from the Tories.  There were four parish or town council by-elections result reported to ALDC, two Lib Dem holds, a gain from the Tories and one from Independents.

Shrewsbury’s Abbey ward is an urban unitary Shropshire county council division that surrounds the shire hall. It’s one of those many seats we all know from around the country where we always thought we’d have a good chance if we had the time and resources to fight a full campaign. In common with many other by-elections it was predictable but what was good was that we not only saw it coming but we actually did something about it in advance. We found a good local campaigner to be the candidate and two leaflets went out in a largely unworked ward before the election was formally called.
In 2009 we had run a largely paperless campaign in the ward, and lost by 254 votes. Labour stood in 2009 and polled 269 votes. In the by-election they failed to nominate a candidate.  We also benefitted from news breaking on polling day in the local media that Shropshire taxpayers must pay £820,000 to fund the unpopular Shrewsbury incinerator appeal –  90% of the appeal hearing costs.
Our sure footed campaigners made sure that our knock up leaflets on the day got that message across.
We ran a strong campaign including calling back three times on properties to make sure we got the maximum voter contact, and the biggest, freshest shuttleworth to knock that we could. The Tories were not complacent and had a local ex-policeman as their candidate, but to no avail. Beating the Tories by eight votes after recounts was brilliant but it again showed the need to carry on knocking till the close of poll.
In the Castle Ward, Carlisle in Cumbria things did not go so well. We were defending a county council seat won in 2009 that we had lost on co-terminus district boundaries in 2010 and 2011 so it was always going to be hard, and in the end we did improve our vote but not sufficiently.  When we win wards on 34% of the vote they are always vulnerable. 

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