ALDC by-election report 29th February

It has been rare leap year by-election week. Thursday’s 5 council by-elections were the first to be held on February 29th since 1996 and though they were a mixed set of results we can still celebrate 2 excellent Lib Dem wins – and the fact that we stood in every single contest.

There were 2 by-elections on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council in Minster & Woodmansey and Tranby wards, both of which were Lib Dem defences. We recorded stonking victories in both of them thanks to a brilliant effort from the local team.

Councillor Tony Henderson held Minster & Woodmansey ward with over 50% of the vote and a majority of over 700, moving the Lib Dem share of the vote forwards by 9% too.

In Tranby ward Councillor Ross Harrison received 55% of the vote and a majority of 550. The Lib Dem vote share increased by 4%.

Congratulations to Tony, Ross and the Lib Dem team in the East Riding of Yorkshire on two brilliant wins!

East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Minster and Woodmansey
Liberal Democrats (Tony Henderson): 1438 (51%, +9%)
Conservative: 706 (25%, -4%)
Labour: 495 (17%, -12%)
Green Party: 198 (7%, new)

East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Tranby
Liberal Democrats (Ross Harrison): 958 (55%, +4.1%)
Labour: 408 (24%, +3.1%)
Conservative: 268 (15%, +3.7%)
Green Party: 97 (6%, -2.5%)

There were also 2 by-elections on Horsham District Council on Thursday.

In Southwater North ward we sadly missed out to Conservatives in a tough defence. Thank you to Gary Hayes and the local Lib Dem team for standing here. It wasn’t our night but hopefully you will get the ward next time.

Horsham DC, Southwater North
Conservative: 618 (49%, +11.2%)
Liberal Democrats (Gary Hayes): 388 (30.8%, -13%)
Green Party: 162 (12.9%, +3.8%)
Labour: 92 (7.3%, -2%)

There was also a by-election in Henfield ward. Thank you to Nico Kearns for flying the flag for the Lib Dems. The Green Party gained the ward from an Independent councillor.

Horsham DC, Henfield
Green Party: 668 [44%, +20%)
Conservative: 569 (38%, +13%)
Labour: 215 (14%, -5%)
Liberal Democrats (Nico Kearns): 59 (4%, -2%)

The fifth and final by-election of the night was on Great Yarmouth District Council in Central and Northgate ward. Thank you to Tony Harris for standing, and not just making sure the Lib Dems were represented in this election but also finishing a good third with a healthy 15% of the vote. A base from which to build.

Great Yarmouth DC, Central and Northgate
Labour: 482 (52.6%, +6.6)
Conservative: 296 (32.2%, +7.7%)
Liberal Democrats (Tony Harris): 139 (15.2%, +3.4%)

Thank you once again to everyone who stood or campaigned for us this week.

A full summary of all results can be found on the ALDC by-elections page here.

* Charles Quinn is Campaigns Organiser for ALDC and a local councillor in Hull.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • With all that the conservatives are going through and putting us through we should have done much better in Horsham.You cannot explain away the results as a tough defence in a blue wall county.

  • We’re in control of Horsham so might have been due to local factors. Possibly a load of NIMBYs got upset about a housing development.

  • Paul Barker 2nd Mar '24 - 2:59pm

    Meanwhile the UK Polls continue largely unchanged except that the Average Tory score has fallen to 24% – the same as We got in 2010.

  • Graham Jeffs 2nd Mar '24 - 3:24pm

    I have commented before that a weakness in our organisation is that it is often on a DC Party basis rather than a Constituency Party basis. Constituency Parties have a vested interest in promoting activity in the District Council areas that they cover – unfortunately District Parties may put little effort in promoting activity in areas that they consider peripheral to their parliamentary ambitions.

    Several weeks ago I asked HQ whether this is a standard pattern of organisation in counties across the country. Needless to say I have not had a reply.

    Henfield is outside the Horsham constituency. For the past forty years the Horsham Party has shown very little interest in this whole area. De-motivation of the membership is the order of the day – we were not allowed to distribute leaflets at the last local elections. Now you see the result.

    So we have no knowledge of who any other party members are and no idea how the constituency in which we live is to be organised. It won’t work.

  • Kevin Hawkins 2nd Mar '24 - 4:15pm

    For those interested in taking a longer term view rather than one week’s results here is my monthly data for the last fifty local by-elections up to the end of February:

    Liberal Democrats 32.3%, Conservatives 28.0%, Labour 23.1%, Greens 8.7%, Reform UK 0.4%, Others 7.6%

    The loss of a seat to the Conservatives in Horsham was the first seat lost by the Lib Dems since 13th June 2023, and the first we have lost to the Tories since 3rd November 2022.

    Gains and losses are:
    Lib Dems: Net gain of eight: 9 gains, 15 held, 1 lost
    Green: No change: 1 gain, 1 held, 1 lost
    Plaid Cymru: No change: 1 gain, 0 held, 1 lost
    Independents: Net loss of one: 3 gains, 1 held, 4 lost
    Conservatives: Net loss of three: 3 gains, 9 held, 6 lost
    Labour: Net loss of four: 1 gain, 7 held, 5 lost

    Liberal Democrats won 24 seats, Conservatives 12, Labour 8, Independents 4, Greens 2, Plaid Cymru 1. (Does not add up to 50 because of a double-election in one wards)

    This data is for the most recent 50 by-elections in England & Wales (22nd November to 29th February). Parish/Town councils are not included.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Mar '24 - 7:06pm

    We’d have to see several similar results to Horsham before we could conclude that the tide is now turning against us in the Blue Wall.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Mar '24 - 8:34pm

    @Graham Jeffs

    The local authority / constituency boundary problem will be around until there is wholesale reform of our fossilised political system. In some areas it might be better to be organised by local authority.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Mar '24 - 9:41pm

    “Henfield is outside the Horsham constituency.”
    Indeed – it’s in Arundel & South Downs – a no-hoper. We’re usually 2nd but a very long way behind the tory.

  • @Nonconformistradical
    We shouldn’t be completely wrighting off seats like this one. If things don’t get any better for the Tories it’s possible that the anti Tory wave could still be large enough to carry us to victory in places where we had been a very distant second place. Yes we can’t afford to prioritise them, but we should at least do just enough campaigning to make sure voters know that it’s us they need to vote for and not labour.

    Indeed it’s possible that the main reason we don’t do better there in the first place is because it’s split between several local parties which mostly correspond to other seats and thus ignoring it.

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Mar '24 - 8:53am

    @David LG
    “Yes we can’t afford to prioritise them, but we should at least do just enough campaigning to make sure voters know that it’s us they need to vote for and not labour.”
    I wouldn’t disagree with that.

    But how are you going to achieve it?

    Please look at the constituency and district boundaries on election maps. Much of it countryside. Not good public transport – difficult to get around. It’s split between 3 district councils.

    How are you going to achieve a viable campaign structure in a constituency like that? Especially given the pressure of the party centrally to focus on target areas, hence drawing resources away from non-target areas.

  • My understanding is that the councillor who was elected in May 2023 resigned in January because he had got a new job which would regularly take him out of the country. Nothing improper there but whatever the other factors in losing the Southwater North seat that must have presented its own problems.

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