The Liberal Democrats were the big winners in the byelections held on St George’s day, 23 April, making three gains on the night. Two of their gains came in the north of Scotland, where they took a former Independent seat on Highland council in Inverness ward, and then won a former Conservative seat on Aberdeenshire council in Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside ward. This ward includes Balmoral Castle, and the election made history as for the first time the successful councillor (Rosemary Bruce, wife of Malcolm Bruce MP) was behind on first preferences but elected after transfers.
The third Liberal Democrat gain saw Labour lose a seat at Totteridge ward of Wycombe district council, and the incumbent party fell to a poor third place. There was better news for Labour in Derby Road West ward of Erewash borough council (which is based around Ilkeston in Derbyshire), where Labour gained a seat from the Conservatives.
The Conservatives also kept two seats in the south of England. On Redbridge borough council they defended Wanstead ward, and on Waverley borough council in Surrey they kept hold of Alfold, Cranleigh Rural and Ellens Green ward.
North Devon district council now has a Conservative-dominated executive. The Conservatives won a narrow overall majority in May 2007 but incoming council leader Michael Harrison kept to the tradition established when the Liberal Democrats had occasionally held majorities whereby all parties had members on the executive. Harrison has been succeeded by Des Brailey as council leader, who has decided that the Liberal Democrats’ vote against the council budget amounts to distancing themselves from cross-party working. The Liberal Democrats are not pleased.
Details about candidates fighting local byelections are often available on the invaluable and politically neutral Votewise site which can be found at the end of this link.