Last night saw nine principal council by-elections take place across the country, with Lib Dem candidates standing across the board.
In Redcar & Cleveland Carole Morgan and the team comfortably held Ormesby ward following the resignation and sad passing of Ann Wilson, a tireless local campaigner and ward councillor since 2009. Carole and the Lib Dem team ran a strong campaign on protecting local green spaces and opposing the Labour controlled council. Councillor Morgan was elected with an amazing 75.4% share of the vote – up 37.3% since 2015! UKIP struggled into second place with 10.6% (down 6.8%), and Labour came in third with 9.7% (down 9.4%).
Councillor Morgan said:
“Naturally I regret the circumstances that led to this by-election. Ann Wilson was a superb representative for the area and was liked by all who knew her.
“I am delighted that the people of Ormesby and Nunthorpe have put their trust in me. I am looking forward to working with fellow Councillors Glyn and Irene Nightingale to serve the local community and protect the area from unsuitable development.
“I will try to be a councillor for all residents, regardless of how they voted.”
Elsewhere candidate David Coates fought a great campaign in Catterick, Richmondshire, gaining 37.2% of the vote. David and the local team narrowly missed out on gaining the seat from the Conservatives by only 25 votes – an impressive result considering no Lib Dem candidate stood in the ward in 2015.
Waverley Lib Dems put up candidates in three local by-elections – Stuart Edge in Farnham Castle and Sylvia Jacobs in Shortheath & Boundstone fought for borough council seats, while Joanne Alwyn in Farnham South fought for a seat on Surrey County Council. Stuart and Sylvia took 30.7% and 12.2% of the vote in their wards respectively and both ran a strong campaign against the single party dominance of the Conservative run borough council. Stuart Edge came second to the Farnham Residents (who won with 40.6%), but increased the Lib Dem vote by 6.3% and pushed the Conservatives into third place. In Shortheath & Boundstone Sylvia Jacobs came third behind the Farnham Residents (47.6%) and the Conservatives (31.1%), and Joanne Alwyn took 11.9% of the vote in Farnham South behind the Conservatives (41.2%) and Farnham Residents (33.4%).
Other by-elections contested by Lib Dems last night include Pelham ward (Gravesham), a Labour hold that did not have a Lib Dem candidate when it was last contested in 2015. Sharan Virk flew the flag for the party and came third with 9.4% of vote. Gravesham East ward in Kent saw candidate Mark Marsh represent the party in a hotly contested ward between Labour, UKIP and the Conservatives. In Tooting, Wandsworth (Labour hold) Eileen Riley Arms increased the Lib Dem vote share by 4.2% up to 10.6%, and in Thanet Jordan Luke Williams and John Finnegan both stood in Northwood ward – a ward that also had no Lib Dem candidate when it was last contested in 2015.
Strong performances were also seen in town council by-elections in Colne and Whiston. Mary Thomas gained Vivary Bridge ward (Colne) from the Conservatives with 41.8% of the vote, and Louise Whitehead came a strong second to the Conservatives in Horsfield ward (Colne) with 32% of the vote. Commiserations to Paul Shaw and the Lib Dem team in Whiston Delph ward who came within just two votes of winning the Labour controlled seat!
We have a much lighter Thursday next week, with two by-elections taking place and only one being contested by a Lib Dem candidate. In Hailsham Town Council East ward Alexa Claire Clarke will be looking to hold the Lib Dem seat following a resignation, and in Fife a by-election has been triggered by the resignation of an independent communist councillor.
A big thank you as always to those who come every week to 23 New Mount Street in Manchester to make calls at ALDC’s By-election HQ, funded through fighting fund donations. If you can help us fight in even more wards, please donate here.