Labour increased its majority over the second-placed British National Party in a byelection in Hyde Newton ward of Tameside borough council, in a byelection held on 5 February. The rest of the country may have been blanketed in snow but the byelection had seen an additional blizzard of paper in the shape of election leaflets and those distributed by groups set up to oppose the BNP; examples can be seen on the Tameside Citizen blog.
Labour also retained a seat in Heath Town ward on Wolverhampton borough council, a ward which had elected a Conservative in May 2008. The Conservatives held the other three seats which elected on 5 February: Plaistow ward on Chichester district council, Tynemouth ward on North Tyneside borough council, and Rossett ward on Wrexham county borough council.
One consequence of the Plaistow byelection in Chichester was that a split opened up in the local Conservative association, resulting in the ward’s other councillor Brian Hooton (elected for the Conservatives) endorsing the Liberal Democrat candidate and deciding to sit as an Independent on the council.
One other defection has been announced this week. Syed Hoque, elected as a Labour councillor for Haverstock ward to Camden borough council, has joined the Liberal Democrats, having only just recently realized that the Labour government had participated in the Iraq war.
There are two other developments worthy of note this week. On Lancaster city council, the all-party administration has come under strain and as a result the Leader of the council Roger Mace (a Conservative) has resigned. The Conservative and Labour members then voted in Labour councillor Abbott Bryning as the new leader, with a majority of one vote over Jon Barry of the Green Party. Also this week, the Scottish Executive’s Scottish Local Government (Elections) Bill to defer the next Scottish local authority elections to 2012 (so as to stop them from being held simultaneously with the Scottish Parliament elections) was published.