Our series, on the impact of the local elections on the political parties in different regions, continues. This week we consider the East Midlands.
Among unitary authorities Leicester, Nottingham and Rutland had all their seats contested. Derby had a third contested as did Milton Keynes.
Among the district councils there were no elections for Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire and Wellingborough. That is because those councils are being abolished –
along with Northamptonshire County Council. Instead, there will be two new unitary authorities. The North Northamptonshire unitary will cover Corby, East Northants, Kettering and Wellingborough and the West Northamptonshire unitary will cover Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire.
Anyway, the following district councils had all there seats up for election:
- Derbyshire Dales
- East Lindsey
- East Staffordshire
- High Peak
- Hinckley and Bosworth
- Newark and Sherwood
- North Kesteven
- North East Derbyshire
- North West Leicestershire
- South Derbyshire
- South Holland
- South Kesteven
- West Lindsay
For a couple of districts only a third of seats were up for election: Amber Valley and Lincoln.
Given the bad news elsewhere the results in this region wasn’t too bad. North East Derbyshire was gained by the Conservatives from Labour. In that one Council there were 13 seats gained by the Conservatives. Lee Rowley has written about it for us here.
North Kesteven was less cheering. In that Council, the Conservatives lost eight seats – and control of the Council – to independents. The Council still has a Conservative leader but is now run by a coalition. It does seem that dismay about the failure to deliver Brexit was an important factor. The Linconshire Independnets say that people were “fed up with voting for one thing and getting another, ending in a party political shambles.”
The Conservatives also lost control of Broxstowe – losing seats to Labour, the Lib Dems and independents. The behaviour of the local MP will scarcely have helped. There are other councils where we started in a strong position and only narrowly hung on after heavy losses – Derbyshire Dales, for example.
There were modest gains in Newark and Sherwood. But in the vast majority of other district councils there were modest losses. The Conservatives were fortunate to be in a sufficiently strong starting position that usualy they could be absorbed without losing power.
Derby saw the Conservatives gain a seat while Labour lost six. It will continue as a minority Conservative administration.
The Lib Dems gained Hinckley and Bosworth direct from the Conservatives. The Conservatives lost ten seats – none to the Lib Dems, one to Labour.
Usually, the pattern has been that the Lib Dem revival has been at the expense of the Conservatives rather than Labour. However, in Chesterfield there was quite a big shift. Labour lost ten seats, including eight to the Lib Dems.
If you wanted to make a film out of any of the local election results then Bolsover would surely be the one to pick. Labour lost 14 councillors, which meant losing control of the Council. Among the victors was Ross Walker – “a newly elected independent councillor who became visibly emotional. A bricklayer who was already a parish councillor, Walker’s voice faltered and broke as he celebrated becoming a district councillor for the first time. He wept as he explained his political career began when the council cut down a sycamore tree commemorating his grandfather, who fought on D-day.”
Ashfield saw Labour lose 20 seats to independents. They only have a couple of councillors left. Pretty astonishing. Of course, there was Brexit as the obvious explanation. But it fed in with themes about Labour “taking us for granted” and “not listening”. A much-loved town clock was removed under a town regeneration scheme. There was an outcry, which Labour ignored. When the independents took over it was taken out of storage and put back.
Nottingham City Council saw Labour lose three seats to independents – but they still won by a landslide. In Leicester they were back with all but one of the seats. As noted above they did less well in Derby but Labour generally is maintaining dominance in the cities while falling back in the towns and villages – not just in this region but elsewehere.
Labour gained High Peak from the Conservatives. Also Amber Valley. These are both councils that has long been competitve between the main parties. So they were important gains for Labour to notch up.
This region saw some of the most spectacular upsets in terms of Labour setbacks – Bolsover really stands out. Yet it also showed Labour making some predictable gains and and remaining impenetrable in some of its other safe” areas. Lib Dems progress and Conservative setbacks were widespread but rather dull. It was the independents who provided the “wow factor.”