Local elections

Tories take the lead in February’s council by-elections

There were no local by-elections this week. Contests are starting to dry up as we get nearer to 7 May, which besides being the date of the general election is also the date of local elections in many parts of England.

We’ve reached the point in the calendar where councils holding elections on 7 May are now barred from holding by-elections. As such we’ll see very few local contests between now and polling day.

There are 279 councils scheduled to hold elections on 7 May, comprising 36 Metropolitan councils, 49 unitary authorities and 194 district councils. They are all in England, and all outside London.

This obviously means there is still potential for by-elections on councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as London. But it may be the case that councils not holding local elections on 7 May decide to wait until that date anyway, to avoid the cost of having to stage two ballots in quick succession.

Whatever happens, chances are we’re going to see very few local by-elections over the next couple of months.

In the few that did take place during February, the Tories emerged with an overall lead. The Press Association’s analysis of four comparable contests suggests a 3.7% projected Conservative margin over Labour. Ukip averaged 18.4% in the four seats it fought.

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