Each week, we have been analysing the local election results for a different region. It is time to focus on the West Midlands.
No elections were held in Birmingham or Shropshire.
Among the unitary authorities, the following had all their seats up for election:
- Telford and Wrekin
With the metropolitan boroughs, the following had a third of seats contested:
The following district councils had all their seats contested:
- Malvern Hills
- North Warwickshire
- South Staffordshire
- Staffordshire Moorlands
- Wyre Forest
While these district councils only had a third of the seats up for election this time:
- Cannock Chase
There were no elections in Newcastle-under-Lyme, apart from a by-election, or in Nuneaton and Bedworth.
First the good news. The Conservatives gained control of Walsall. We only gained two seats, but that was enough. Cllr Mike Bird, the new council leader, wrote about it for us here.
There is more good news from Dudley, traditionally a key battleground. It has 36 Conservative councillors and 36 for Labour. But the Conservatives have taken charge with the casting vote of the Mayor. Cllr Patrick Harley, the new council leader, gave us an account of what happened here.
Stoke-on-Trent is still under no overall control, but the Conservatives made eight gains. The upshot is that the Council is still run by a coalition of Conservatives and independents, but that it is now the Conservatives that are the senior partner.
These are impressive results. But elsewhere, it was pretty grim. In Solihull, the Conservatives lost six seats and cling on with a majority of just one. Also, the Conservatives lost control of Wyre Forest (which is now led by the Independent Community & Health Concern group), Staffordshire Moorlands (which is still Conservative-led but in coalition with independents), Malvern Hills (now run by an independents/Green/Lib Dems coalition), and Warwick (still Conservative-led in a minority administration) among the district councils.
There was also the loss of Herefordshire. The Conservatives were down 15 seats, with the independents making the most gains, and they now lead a coalition running the Council.
Looking at the principles of the Herefordshire Independents, they are broadly conservative. But there are some independents in favour of a proposed bypass, with others independents against. So that is problematic.
As with so many other cases, opposition to development is a factor. The It’s Our County group of independents want to “revise down the development housing target” – although they do (very sensibly) say they favour building more homes on council owned land.
In some ways, this is a disappointing set of results for the Lib Dems. They notched up some gains in seat here and there – including seven seats in Warwick. They gained four seats in Malvern Hills. But there were no great breakthroughs.
Given the context, these were pretty bad results for Labour. it is true that they are still dominant in Coventry, and in Sandwell, they still hold every seat. In Wolverhampton, they lost a seat to the Conservatives, but Labour still has a huge majority. They made some gains in some districts – picking up six seats in Lichfield and another six on Staffordshire Moorlands. They also notched up a gain of nine seats in Telford and Wrekin.
But then elsewhere they made losses. Apart from what was noted above, they lost control of Cannock Chase Council. They still run the Council, but have to rely on the support of Green Party councillors. It would be startling for Labour to be losing in Walsall and Stoke at any time. For them to do so at this stage in the electoral cycle is rather astonishing; Labour has less power in the West Midlands now than they did before the elections took place.
Overall, bad news for everyone apart from the independents. Going into the details of the results in this region gives a sense of how volatile the electorate has become. A reminder that the Conservatives lost 1,330 council seats last month. But that was a net figure. Within that tally were some impressive gains – which by definition meant that the total number of losses that they offset were even higher. It was even more dramatic that the national scorebaord suggests. All the old certainities in local politics have been swept awy in the anti establishment revolt.