There was one hold and one loss for the Liberal Democrats in principal council by-elections last Thursday. There was an impressive hold for the party in South Smallburgh division in Norfolk (CC), with Allison Bradnock taking victory with 56.4% of the vote. This saw an impressive vote share increase of 25.8% from 2013, with Alison holding the seat with a solid 686 vote majority ahead of the Conservatives.
Unfortunately, there was less good news in Surrey (CC), with Julie Morris falling just 25 votes short of holding the Liberal Democrat seat in Epsom West division. In what proved to be a four-way contest, the Tories clinched the seat with just 23.6% of the vote, with the local Residents Association 21 votes behind in second and Julie a further three votes adrift in third. The Lib Dem vote share from 2013 dropped by 5.4%, with the Conservatives almost doubling their vote share as they jumped from fifth to first.
In Ashford (DC), another very tight contest saw the Conservatives make a gain by just a single vote, as UKIP finished second with Labour unable to defend the seat just three votes further behind. Adrian Gee-Turner polled 9% for the Liberal Democrats, with the party not fielding a candidate in the ward’s last election in May.
Elsewhere, Plaid Cymru comfortably held their seat in Dewi ward in Gwynedd (UA) with 59.4%, whilst Andrew Joyce polled 6% for the Liberal Democrats, a slight vote share decrease of 1.9% from two years ago.
In addition, there was a gain for Plaid Cymru from Llais Gwynedd in another Gwynedd by-election, with Labour holding a seat in Carmarthenshire (UA). There also a gain for the Conservatives from UKIP in Watton division in Norfolk, the Tories polling 45.6% of the vote with UKIP not standing a candidate. There were no Lib Dem candidates in these three contests.
Alongside the principal by-elections, there was a Liberal Democrat hold on Barnoldswick Town Council, with David Caldicott taking 57.6% of the votes to hold in Craven ward in a straight fight with the Greens.
This Thursday, Liberal Democrat candidates will be fielded in six of the week’s eight principal council by-elections. The party will have representation in two contests in Fife (UA), as well as elections in Rochford (DC) , Newport (UA), Lancaster (DC) and also Wiltshire (UA), where we’ll be defending a seat. There will also be contests in Nottinghamshire (CC), Ashfield and (DC) and Gwynedd (UA).