13 Norwich by-elections on one day – can you help?

In just one month voters in Norwich will be going to the polls again

Here in Norwich, we’re fighting not 1, not 2, not even 10 council by-elections this summer. We’ve got 13.

We won Norwich South at the General Election by just 310 votes. These elections are set to be just as close. Many people came to help us in May, and we’re appealing for even more people to come and help us now. We’re especially looking for people to make a few phone calls from home.

Back in December, following a drawn-out and bitter process that split political parties and saw pitched battles fought between councils, the Boundary Committee recommended that the county of Norfolk should become a unitary authority.

Labour ministers threw out this proposal and instead laid orders to create a unitary Norwich city, leaving the rest of Norfolk untouched. The problem is, they did this without following due process.

So after 13 years, the final months of a dying Labour Government saw a deathbed conversion to the cause of a unitary Norwich city – but their efforts were so feeble that they weren’t even lawful.

In retrospect, one wonders whether it was ever really a serious effort by Labour to create a unitary Norwich, or whether it was just a cynical last-ditch effort to shore up their vote in Norwich South for the general election.

The cost to the tax-payer of this shambles has run into millions of pounds, due to councils spending vast amounts on legal challenges and private consultants to fight PR battles against one another.

And the cost is set to continue to rise, with a High Court decision in June overturning the previous government’s unlawful orders. Those orders included axing the local council elections that would have otherwise taken place in May. The Court decision meant that those thirteen seats that should have been fought in May were vacated with immediate effect, with elections to fill them announced later for 9 September.

Sadly, it’s Norwich residents who will be paying the price for these elections, with the cost estimated at £100,000.

This election is the first time that Labour’s bosses running Norwich City Council will face the voters since news of the shameful Greyhound Opening ‘Homes-for-Staff’ scandal broke in Christmas 2008.

Then, in 2009 Norwich’s housing department was condemned by the Audit Commission as one of the worst in the country, with a rock bottom zero star rating.

With problems now emerging over the new contracts to repair Norwich’s council houses and to keep our streets clean, Labour’s record in Norwich, just as in Westminster, is one of failure.

With these unexpected elections, residents will at least have the opportunity to punish Labour for their incompetence, and to mark a fresh start for Norwich by electing more Liberal Democrat councillors.

Norwich’s Liberal Democrat councillors have punched above their weight in recent years. They were the only group to consistently champion an independent inquiry into the homes-for-staff scandal. They’ve led the fight for safer roads with 20mph limits on residential streets. Each year, they’ve produced costed plans to keep council tax rates low to help residents through tough financial times. This contrasts with the main opposition Green Party who, year after year, sit on their hands when it comes to setting the Council Tax – even when all their budget amendments are accepted!

Having gained the Norwich South parliamentary seat on the 6th May, these elections are an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to make the case for a fresh start for Norwich. We have a team of excellent candidates. But they and I need your help in the coming weeks.

As I’m sure you can imagine, fighting an election campaign over August so soon after a flat-out General Election campaign is a challenge.

With more than 16,000 postal voters set to be sent out soon in the nine wards of Norwich South alone, time really is short. The sooner you can come and help us, the more effective our campaign will be.

Our HQ, at 9 Europa Way, Martineau Lane, Norwich, NR1 2EN, is open 9am till late Monday to Friday and at the weekends from 10am. You can generate maps and directions on my website or get in touch with our Agent Simon Drage on 01603 627660 or [email protected] who will enthusiastically find ways for you to help. If you cannot help in person, but can make a financial contribution towards out efforts then please do get in touch.

Please let us know as soon as you read this what you are able to do. You can help us to make a difference.

Simon Wright is the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Norwich South

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This entry was posted in Council by-elections.


  • Technically they aren’t by-elections as they aren’t ‘casual vaccancies’ it is the third of the council who should have been up for election in May whose seats are now vaccant becauase of the High Court rulling.

  • What are the dates? When is help needed until?

  • Polling day is 9th September and help is needed now as the postal vote will be going out in a weeks time.

  • John – I can’t comment on Exeter but I can’t say that a Unitary Status for Norwich was something most residents who weren’t councillors had any interest in.

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