Local elections

Latest by-election results: Tories and Lib Dems trade gains

All of seats up for grabs in this week’s council by-elections changed hands.

The Tories took one from the Lib Dems – but the Lib Dems took two from the Tories in return.

The most startling result was the one in Conservative-run Guildford, where the Lib Dems managed an astonishing 47.2% swing and moved from third place to first:

Guildford by-election result

A major campaign issue was concern over proposals to allow development in parts of the local green belt.

The Lib Dems’ second win came in Conservative-run Epping Forest, in a ward where they already hold the other two seats:

Epping Forest by-election

But the Tories were able to exact a sort of revenge in the third and final of this week’s contests, in Somerset:

Somerset by-election

The party will be buoyed by the location of this particular seat. It lies within the constituency of Somerton and Frome: a key Tory target for the 2015 election, where the Lib Dems currently have a majority of just 1,817.

The Tories’ win in Frome North increases the party’s majority on the council to five seats.

The Press Association’s analysis of 12 comparable by-elections this month suggests a 5.9% projected Labour lead over Conservatives.

A calculation based on eight wards fought both times by all three major parties gives a line-up of Labour 34.7%, Conservative 26.6%, Lib Dems 23.7%. The Lib Dem figure is clearly inflated by the Guildford result.

Ukip’s vote share averaged 18.7% in the 12 contests it fought.

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