The Liberal Democrats had the honours of the byelections held on 29 January, winning two seats from Labour. In Valentines ward of Redbridge borough council, the party went from fourth to first place with a 182 vote majority, although the election appeared to have been fought largely on the issue of the Israeli Defence Force action in Gaza. The other gain was a less impressive 24-vote win in Fenham ward of Newcastle-upon-Tyne city council, a ward which voted Liberal Democrat by over 300 votes in May 2008 (the incumbent Labour councillor had won in 2007).
Two other byelections were held by the incumbent party. The Liberal Democrats held Didsbury West ward on Manchester city council, and Labour held Stoke Newington Central ward on Hackney borough council.
The week has seen several councillors move political groups. Aberdeenshire council‘s ruling coalition is now reliant on the Provost’s casting vote after three Liberal Democrat councillors resigned from their group and formed a separate ‘Democratic Independent’ group together with Debra Storr, who had left a few months earlier. The four were all opposed to Donald Trump’s golf resort planning application. The three defectees are Paul Johnston (Mid Formartine ward), Martin Ford (East Garioch ward), and Sam Coull (Peterhead South and Cruden ward).
David Shaw, elected as a Conservative to Bournemouth borough council from Strouden Park ward, has been expelled from the party following a row over an unpaid bill for the sale of programmes for Bournemouth air show.
Another row over money has led Richard Hall, elected as a Liberal Democrat to North Yorkshire county council from Knaresborough division, to leave his party group. He was opposed to the requirement to donate 10% of his allowances to party campaigning.
Finally, former Mayor of Trowbridge Tom James of Trowbridge North East ward has left the Liberal Democrat group on West Wiltshire district council after failing to be selected for the new Wiltshire unitary council elections.